Rudy’s past is a mystery. He was a stray found wandering the central Minnesota countryside wearing an ancient greasy black cracked leather collar and no tags. Mark, the county animal control officer who picked him up, had never even seen a wheaten before, and had to do a bit of research before placing an ad on in an effort to find Rudy a home. When WIN volunteer, Rob Horgan, spotted the ad, I offered to drive out to visit Rudy. Rudy was happily settled into “farm” life at Mark’s house—lots of room to roam —chickens, horses, kids and an assortment of other dogs, and he got to be an inside dog at night. And though Mark and Tama had become attached to him, they had a steady stream of homeless dogs in their lives and simply could not care for Rudy long term.

Rudy greeted us with enthusiasm, and immediately jumped into my son, Colin’s van, and was eager to go with us….he was a typical wheaten, full of kisses and that twinkle in his eyes, but he had, as Colin put it “a smile only a mother could love.” Many of Rudy‘s teeth were missing, and most of the remaining ones were broken or had been filed off. He walked stiffly, his ears were infected, his was coat matted, and we all believed him to be at least 10+ years old. Still he was the sweetest most trusting grateful soul I ever met.

After getting approval to take Rudy into the WIN program, I brought him home. He patiently endured a long bath, revealing calloused sores on his “forearms” probably from being kenneled on concrete for long periods, but he licked my cheek the whole time I was cleaning him up. A trip to the vet started treatment for his ears—and a plan to get some oral surgery done soon thereafter. Rudy was an angel on the grooming table, and what emerged was a very handsome wheaten –and estimates from vets and the groomer that he may even be as young as 6-8 years—but 6-8 hard years!

Within a couple of days, Rudy was accepting my two-year old, Blue’s invitation to join him in games of chase. A week later, Rudy was WURLed to WIN volunteer, Tina Thomas, near Chicago who resumed the “patch Rudy up” project.. Rudy was neutered, began treatment for a thyroid disorder (cause of his stiffness, dry coat and fatigue) and had oral surgery to remove a tooth and prevent infection into his jaw—yet he always reacted with unfaltering gratefulness, dignity and trust…and he continued to leave “paw prints on hearts” wherever he went.

Meanwhile, 80+ year old Marion, who lives in the Chicago area and who had a long history of dogs in her life, had been patiently waiting for a new wheaten companion, was becoming more and more excited about Rudy. When Rudy was ready to go to his forever home with Marion, Tina had fallen love with the Rudy as well and parting with him was not without tears.

Today, Rudy is Marion’s constant companion. The two are active and go for regular walks. Marion is devoted to Rudy and says he is the “best dog she ever had” and has made friends with everyone they meet. He has become the light of her life and Marion’s only complaint is that he is a bit of a bed hog!!WIN volunteers, Dee Robbins and Tina Thomas check in on them regularly, and I am told that until Rudy flashes that toothless smile, you would not recognize him as the “old Rudy.” Rudy’s past will probably always remain a mystery, but his future is bright. He was truly a “wheaten in need” and the trail he left through my life has been a bit of a gift in itself.

Lois Wolf
Cold Spring, MN