Stand By Me
By Judy Berman
Think back to your school days. If you’re still there, reach a little further back. How many of your close friends then are still a part of your life?
In Stephen King’s novella, “The Body” (the movie: “Stand By Me”), he noted that he never had any friends like the ones he did when he was 12. Friends that he was really tight with one summer became just “two more faces in the halls” later on.
“It happens sometimes. Friends come in and out of your life like busboys in a restaurant,” Richard Dreyfuss’ character says.
My closest friend, the one I could always count on whether I was having a great day or a real downer, came into my life when I was 8.
One snowy night in November, shortly after we’d moved from Pennsylvania to New York State, my Dad came home. He smiled and told me he had a surprise for me.
He pulled out a Cocker Spaniel puppy that he’d hidden under his coat. We named him Rusty for his color.
The puppy was proof-positive that Dad was a master diplomat. He knew my Mom was terrified of dogs ever since she was cornered by two dogs when she was younger. Somehow, he convinced her that Rusty was no threat and would be a real asset to our family.
He was right about the second part. Rusty, however, did turn out to be a formidable threat to anyone who he felt was a danger to our family. One night, when Dad was working late, a pushy salesman tried to gain entry into our home. When Mom went to close the door, he thrust his foot in so she couldn’t lock him out.
Rusty growled a warning that the salesman ignored. Then, the pup – now nearly a year old – bit the salesman. The salesman threatened to sue. Mom told him he was lucky the dog didn’t cause more damage, and the salesman left.
But most of our adventures were outside. Some of them were risky. I was a real tomboy then. My folks would have had more gray hairs if they knew of the time I rode a raft over a swampy area near our home. Rusty was with me, of course.
My trusty sidekick must have thought I knew what I was doing. If I fell in, I knew he would jump in after me to rescue me. Or, at least, that’s what I hoped would happen because I didn’t know how to swim.
Over the years, Rusty was a constant in my life, someone I could count on. One rainy day, when I was 18, Rusty was missing. I searched frantically for him, fearing that something was wrong.
I was relieved when I found him outside near our home. My joy did not last for long. After 10 years, my best friend was ready to cross to the other side of the bridge. Maybe, some day, we’ll meet again.
This is a tribute to my first dog, Rusty, for International Friendship Month.
Movie trailer: “Stand By Me” (1986) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUVnfaA-kp
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider, earth-rider.com, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Main photo: Cocker Spaniel awaiting. Photo taken by Sebastian Oliva, licensed under Creative Commons by Bubamara. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2e/Cocker_Spaniel_Awaiting.jpg/640px-Cocker_Spaniel_Awaiting.jpg
Photo: me holding my baby brother, Hank; Dad and Rusty
Photo: Rusty – my first dog and trusty sidekick
Judy, that’s such a lovely tribute to your dog. What a wonderful surprise it must have been when your father brought Rusty home. I really enjoyed “Stand By Me.” I think I’ve seen it a few times.
Thank you, AA. Rusty sure was a surprise gift and a wonderful companion. The movie combined a coming-of-age story, some great friendships and a mystery. I loved it and the song by Ben E. King.
A lump in my throat after that beautiful tribute to such a close friend, Judy. Having a dog that close is a gift, but we have to say goodbye far sooner than we’d like. I loved this post.
Our animal companions are our family. I know you feel the same way, Kate. It’s never easy saying good-bye. I’m glad you loved the story. Thank you.
Rusty sounds like the perfect best friend!
Rusty was a great friend. Thanks Rumpy.
makes me miss Heidi, great story Mom.
Me, too, Jenn. Heidi, our St. Bernard, was a great friend. I crack up when I think of a photo of her and Tumbleweed when she was a kitten. What a contrast.
I agree with the other readers, Judy: this is a beautiful tribute. But one of the details that jumped out at me from this post was the salesman sticking his foot in the door. Maybe our behavior really has improved, at least in some ways.
I was 10 or younger when this happened, Charles. I recall this guy was pretty pushy. Sleezy. I can’t imagine a sales person pulling a stunt like that today.
Such short lives our animal friends have to spend with us. Too short. My dogs now are my first dogs (my mother was terrified of dogs, too) and I cannot imagine life without them. Your post makes me want to hug Bruno and Jigs right now but they’re asleep and can’t be bothered. 🙂
Well, wake them up! Dang it! 🙂 I haven’t had a dog in a long time. So I shower my grand-puppy and our neighbors’ dogs with love and attention. I kid my husband that I know the neighborhood dogs’ names better than some of our neighbors. (That’s often referred to as “old-timer’s disease.”)
That’s true of me, too! I know the names of the neighborhood dogs but not that of some of our neighbors. 🙂
I have a smile on my face, and a little tear of happiness on my cheek. But of course that always happens when I think of Judy Berman… : )
A beautiful and heart-warming reflection, my friend.
Thank you, Mark. Thinking of my pets makes me smile … and a little sad. I think we all wish that we could have more time with our four-legged friends.
Been out of town and just got back from a trip and… You made me drop a tear for both your Rusty and my Rusty. We are most fortunate.
I’m glad you liked my story. Your story also made me tear up – in both a sad and happy way – as I recalled my Rusty. I think folks can certainly relate to your story about “We Thought We’d Live Forever.” Here’s the link: http://noulteriormotive.com/2013/01/30/we-thought-wed-liver-forever/
Loved your moving tribute to your first best friend Judy.
Our companions are there for us thru thick and thin, Madhu. Rusty, and all my other four-legged friends, are really missed. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.
Dogs can be such great companions, especially when we’re younger.
That’s the truth, Binky. Rusty and I did a lot of exploring together. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
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