Rusty's Chains
by Geoff Langdon

The rusty chain snaps taut as he lunges at the bucket of dirty, fly-ridden, water.
The heat is unbearable and he is dog thirsty.
The flies are maddening, attacking the open sores on his back and neck.
As he laps up the putrid water, he looks up at the house that the man and woman disappear into. He's never been inside.

Didn't people once love him and call him by his name?
Was it Rusty? He can't remember.
Maybe he never had a name or anyone who cared for him; maybe the flies and heat are making him delusional.
Every once in a great while, the man from the house un-chains him and takes him to a wooded area nearby where he has a chance to exercise and explore something new.

And he doesn't even mind when he is roughly picked up and thrown into the water for his annual bath. The last time out, he was kicked when he shook off the water too close to the man. Always he returns, fearful of the unknown, or perhaps hopeful for some affection, that he has yet to experience.

Today, he'll take no work, no play, and no love, no longer.
The man enters the enclosure and yanks the bloodied chain that cuts into his infected wound when he does not move fast enough for the man's liking. He suddenly attacks him.
He runs towards the enclosure's open gate before real harm is done to the man. The wife cuts off his escape route and empties her cup of steaming hot coffee in his direction, fortunately she's too drunk to have good aim and falls from the effort.
He then makes his way to freedom.

This is where I come into the picture. I am the Animal Rescue Officer for the area. I was called in to find this so-called half crazed dog before he hurt others and himself.
After a few hours of searching I find him in the nearby woods, the same woods I later learned the owner took him once in a blue moon.

He is a big guy, but much too thin for his red-coated frame.
He is down by the pond lapping up the cool water; he looks up and spots me. I approach slowly but apparently not carefully, for I step into a hole, fall and roll within a few feet of him.
My capture pole goes flying in the opposite direction.
Startled, he lets out a werewolf growl. I lie very still and very scared.

He approaches slowly and sniffs my shoes, I softly say, "Nice boy," and hopes he recognizes that the void in my pants is a sign of submission.
Apparently it works, as he takes a few more steps and lies down next to me, with his back pressed against my thigh.

Soon after, we both return to the truck. I let him sit up front and I drive back to the Shelter. I am to meet his owners, who are being driven there by the police.
In these cases we have no leeway, euthanasia is always the applied remedy.

This type of behavior cannot ever be tolerated.
I open the locked cabinet and get out two hypodermic needles, each containing 2cc's of the life-ending drug.

This is also my job, and I never get use to it. I try thinking of the happier times ahead for the dog, as he is going to a better place. This helps somewhat as I inject the first needle into the vein.
The fist dose is for the man, the second one is for the wife. It is fast and painless.
The behavior of these people demonstrates the necessity for a proper birth-control program. I am afraid there are too many of their kind on the loose due to indiscriminate breeding.

I return to the truck, where Rusty is waiting, seems like the appropriate name for this sweet, red coated dog. I scratch his ear and tell him it's time for us to go home and meet his new family.