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The Undeniable Appeal of a Furry Friend

The last week has been a bit rough for the Hottovy household. On Monday we put to sleep our fine, furry friend of nine years. Rusty was the most loyal, trustworthy, and loving dog that anyone could ever ask for. And because he was each of those things and more, he became a very big part of our family. I saw a post on Facebook recently that said "If you think that it's 'just' a dog, then I think you are 'just' an idiot." I have probably been that "idiot" a time or two, but now I completely understand and agree.

Looking back -- as we have been doing quite a bit this week -- Rusty almost didn't even join our family. Our youngest daughter, Lindsay, begged us for about three years to get a dog. (She also wanted a Barbie car that she could ride in, but our deprived child never did get one of those.) It took all of those three years to convince us to get a dog because we live on a state highway and that just seemed like an accident waiting to happen. We finally decided to put in an underground fence on the back acre of our property and then went in search of the perfect dog. I helped raise and train Golden Retrievers when I was growing up, so I knew that would be a great breed for kids. One day I spotted an ad in the Journal Star for a Chocolate Lab/Golden Retriever mix. So I headed off to teach school and the rest of the family went to buy a dog. When I got home that afternoon Lindsay was holding him and she said, "I just love him." It didn't take the rest of us long to fall in love with him, too.

Since my blog is usually about all things quilty, you might be wondering why I chose to talk about our dog this time. Well.......that is because he has been so much on our mind this past week and I do have a quilt-related story to share about him. Although he was definitely an outside dog, he liked to come in the house to be with us in the spring and in the fall when he wasn't shedding quite so much. One day during my break in October he was keeping me company in the sewing room while I was putting binding on a penguin quilt that I had made for Melissa. I happened to look down to find him chewing on the corner of the quilt. He got a scolding and then spent the rest of the day outside! I cut off the corner of the quilt where he had chewed and the quilt then just had one irregular corner. I sewed the chewed edge that I had cut off under the label. It made for a great story when I gave the quilt to Melissa.

We had been looking forward to our annual trip to Breckenridge, Colorado this summer as we had not gone last year due to several trips to Minneapolis for Sara's wedding and festivities. This summer the trip was put on hold while Lindsay searched for a job and we took care of our ailing pup. We were finally able to make that trip happen last Thursday morning and it was nice to get away for a few days. True to form, my husband agreed to stop at a quilt shop as we went through Denver. The one I picked was in Littleton as they had a Row By Row that I liked and that location worked well as we had decided to take the southern route into Breckenridge. As I was looking around Fabric Expressions I realized that I had the wrong shop. The row that I liked was actually at The Creative Needle. Ugh!! So we headed off to find that shop. Thank goodness for the Garmin! Their Row By Row featured mountains and several columbine flowers -- the perfect one to represent our trip to Colorado.

While we were hoping to get away from our reminders of Rusty on this trip, that did not happen. We stepped into our condo to find a painting on the wall of a man and his dog riding in a red pick-up. One of Rusty's favorite things to do was to ride in the back of Tom's red pick-up. He would lay there for hours in hopes of going for a ride. On one of our walks through downtown Breck we spotted a statue in an art gallery of a dog with a shoe in his mouth. When I would go out to the garage in the morning for my walk, Rusty would always want one of my shoes in his mouth. He would give it to me when I was ready to put it on and then I would scratch his belly. And then there was Tom's observation that there were 5000 dogs in Breck on vacation with their owners and 3000 of them looked like Rusty. That mostly just made us smile.

Now that we are home again we can start to get used to Rusty not being around. That has proven to be harder than we thought so far. He had the run of our backyard and I truly believe that he loved living at our house. And we loved having him. I wouldn't even complain if he was still around to chew on the corners of a few more of my quilts.

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