JOHN COUNTS COLUMN: Our boon companion

One year with Rudy the Wonder Dog

Rudy enjoys puppyhood at the “Water Tower” beach a week after News Advocate staff writer, John Counts, and his wife brought him home from Homeward Bound a year ago.

A year ago this week, we brought Rudy home from the Homeward Bound Animal Shelter.

There hasn’t been a dull moment since. It’s been a fantastic year with Rudy, or Roo, or Rudence, or Rude Dog, or any of the nicknames that come out of the mouths of my wife, Meredith, and I.

A lot has changed in that year, though. Believe me.

As a pup, I could hold him with one arm. Now, he’s as long as the couch when he stretches out.

Back then, he could barely climb the stairs. Now, he can hop up on a four-foot ledge in a single bound.

Lake Michigan terrified him last summer. Now, he’ll race out into the water and grab whatever you throw for him. You’d think he was part lab.

And according to his papers, he is, though you wouldn’t know it to look at him.

To us, he’s just a mighty mutt. Rudy the Wonder Dog. In the fall, he’s that elusive breed: the Manistee County Grouse Hound. All we know about him is that his mom was a lab mix and that pappa was a rolling stone.

But that hasn’t stopped people from guessing.

Walking Rudy around town is like escorting a celebrity. In fact, one day a gentlemen told me that Rudy “looked like a movie star.”

I thanked him and yanked Rudy away, hoping it didn’t go to his head. Rudy, as always, pranced off. He’s the fanciest prancer of a dog I’ve ever seen, which is why strangers stop us. He’s also chock-full of playful energy and has seemingly elastic ears that point and droop depending on his mood.

But the one thing people who stop us on the streets want to know is his breed.

I’m sorry, folks, but I don’t know if he’s part whippet, Jack Russell, dalmatian, pit bull or husky. That’s right, someone actually asked if little 60-pound Rudy was a husky.

“Well, you can always get a DNA test done,” one woman told me.

I politely nodded and thanked her, but the truth is my wife and I don’t care what breed he is. He’s our little mutt Rudy and that’s all that matters.

We love him no matter what.

Even when he passes noxious gas. Even when he tries to bring his rawhide bones into bed. Even when he eats junk.

And, for the first year, that’s been Rudy’s raison d’etre — his reason to be: finding the strangest, grossest stuff, putting it into his mouth, savoring it for a bit, then swallowing it.

A more mature Rudy enjoys a run on the North Country Trail recently.

Our neighbor has a compost pile he likes to climb up and play King of the Mountain — but in this game, His Highness Roo tries eating his way through the banana peels and yard waste.

Yum.

And then there’s fish. While many beachgoers lamented the alewife die off earlier this summer, Rudy welcomed the hundreds of dead little fish on the beach with opened chops. He doesn’t just like to lap them up, he also enjoys rolling around and rubbing himself on them.

Tasty.

Last weekend, we went to the Nordhouse Dunes where Rudy found a porcupine carcass and rolled around in that. I spent twenty minutes picking quills out of his coat.

Way to go Rudy.

Of course, there have also been chewed up shoes, “evacuation” accidents (”evacuation” being, of course, the silliest euphemism I’ve ever heard for when Rudy’s gotta take a leak or drop a deuce) and the not infrequent times he doesn’t mind his masters. He also likes to hog the bed and go outside at inconvenient times — like 4 in the morning.

But Meredith and I wouldn’t give him up for the world.

Dogs make a life more complete, and Rudy has definitely done that. He’s our inseparable boon companion.

One year was great, but we’re looking forward to many more.

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