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Rusty Rodas, A Rescued Dog Teaches Us The Power Of Kindness

08 Jul 2016 | by Prekshita Patwa | Posted in: Wag News

Immediately upon meeting Rusty, Kelsey could see how afraid he was. His legs shook, he wouldn’t approach anyone. But she also noticed something about him that would become Rusty’s signature characteristic: he was not aggressive at all. He was scared, but there was an undeniable kindness in his eyes. While other potential adopters had lamented Rusty’s lack of the usual “Golden personality,” Kelsey saw that it was still there, just buried beneath the surface. This confirmed what she already knew: she had to adopt this dog.

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Image Source: facebook.com/rustyrodasthedog

 

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It started with a photograph.

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Image Source: facebook.com/rustyrodasthedog

Rusty Rodas, Golden Retriever and Instagram golden boy, never dreamed he would be famous. His desires were grounded in a reality that left no room for opportunity. He spent the first year of his life likely wishing for little more than a good meal and a night of worry-free sleep. Eventually, for reasons unknown, his owner abandoned him in a Portland park. We don’t know exactly what happened during that first year—abuse, neglect—but by the time Rusty ended up in the custody of a local animal shelter, he was visibly shaking with fear. That’s when Kelsey Rodas saw his “mugshot” on Petfinder. She was 23 at the time, and for her, it was love at first sight. That mugshot was perhaps the most important photograph that Rusty would ever pose for although it would hardly be the last.

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Image Source: facebook.com/rustyrodasthedog

“I had to have that dog in my life,” Kelsey, now 28, tells me, recalling the moment she first saw Rusty’s picture online. We are sitting at a picnic table at Swan Island Dahlias in Canby (@swanislanddahlias), where a few other members of the Portland Instagram Group are wandering about. Rusty is under the table where he occasionally brushes against my foot, but mostly just lies there enjoying the shade. He is Kelsey’s first rescue dog, but her parents are actively involved with Northwest Animal Companions of Oregon, a volunteer-run animal shelter, so she had an idea of what adopting him would entail. Still, she didn’t hesitate to put her name on the list for Rusty, who already had five people interested in him.

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Image Source: facebook.com/rustyrodasthedog

As luck would have it, one by one the waitlist cleared until Kelsey got the call from the shelter. Unfortunately, she couldn’t make it in that day; at the time, she was caring for a foster dog from NW Animal Companions which had gotten sick. Worried she had missed her one shot at Rusty, she pleaded with the shelter to set up another appointment. They told her two new people had already expressed interest, and that she would have to start again at the end of the list. Whether by providence or another stroke of luck, both people eventually cancelled, and Kelsey got her second chance.

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Image Source: facebook.com/rustyrodasthedog

Immediately upon meeting Rusty, Kelsey could see how afraid he was. His legs shook, he wouldn’t approach anyone. But she also noticed something about him that would become Rusty’s signature characteristic: he was not aggressive at all. He was scared, but there was an undeniable kindness in his eyes. While other potential adopters had lamented Rusty’s lack of the usual “Golden personality,” Kelsey saw that it was still there, just buried beneath the surface. This confirmed what she already knew: she had to adopt this dog.

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Image Source: facebook.com/rustyrodasthedog

Then, on the drive home, something amazing happened. After spending twenty minutes coaxing Rusty into the car, Kelsey sat in the back with him while her parents drove. Not long after the car pulled away from the shelter, one-year-old Rusty scurried across the back seat, placed his paw and head on Kelsey’s shoulder, closed his eyes, and fell asleep. “He was so emotionally exhausted. He was already showing me so much trust. I knew that I had totally made the right choice,” Kelsey says.

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Image Source: facebook.com/rustyrodasthedog

But Rusty’s unforeseen path to stardom was still littered with roadblocks. Once Kelsey brought him home, she discovered that he was afraid of nearly everything, from garbage cans and mailboxes to loud noises and fast movements. He couldn’t enter through a doorway without crawling on his belly. The first two years of his new life were spent unlearning everything he learned to be afraid of in his past life. “It would take me twenty minutes to get him in the bathtub,” Kelsey says. “Now, he just gets in by himself. It definitely taught me a lot about patience, and it’s so rewarding to see him not be afraid of things.”

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Image Source: facebook.com/rustyrodasthedog

Now at age six, it’s hard to imagine Rusty was ever scared of anything. He has the calmest demeanour of any dog I’ve ever met, graciously posing for photos with fans, letting random passersby pet him, and blissfully ignoring the yipping and yapping of more aggressive, smaller dogs which tried in vain to upstage him at the dahlia fields. Rusty doesn’t try to get attention; he doesn’t need to. He simply has a magnetic personality. People would stop mid-conversation to come over and pet him. He is a rare breed, indeed: quiet, reserved, kind, yet confidently charismatic. The renown he’s garnered in front of the camera hasn’t gone to his head. (I suppose it helps that he’s a dog.)

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Image Source: facebook.com/rustyrodasthedog

Rusty’s fame is the result of Kelsey’s clever and entertaining portraits of him, which often feature him dressed up in human clothes or capture his expressions at the perfect moment. Most of his thousands of followers probably don’t know about the human behind the camera. 

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Image Source: facebook.com/rustyrodasthedog

Info by Daven Mathies

Rusty truly believes that kindness is not something that people need to earn. You be kind to people just because YOU are kind! I haven't felt this inspired by someone in a long time. I love Rusty Rodas and his values.

Share any story of kindness you experienced in the comments section below!

 

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