Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Scenes from Silver Creek: Rufus and Mr. Goldman

Rumor had it Rufus was part bear, part German shepherd. His actual parentage was a mystery known only to god. Equally mysterious was where he came from. He showed up as a huge puppy one day, sleeping on the steps of city hall. When someone tried to pick him up, he gleefully decided it was a huge game and ran away, disappearing for a few days and then showing up again in the park.

From then on, he belonged to the town and the town belonged to him.

Everybody loved Rufus, even dog-haters, and he happily lived wherever he wanted. Any open door was an invitation and it wasn’t uncommon to look up and see him walking into your house. Half the businesses in town had bowls of water or food either on the sidewalk or just inside the door.

Rufus would frequently adopt people or businesses for a while. He’d decide to live at one house for a few weeks and then suddenly his gypsy would kick in and he’d be off somewhere else.

The Silver Creek Police Department, oddly enough, seemed to be his unofficial home. They set up a doghouse in the garage and that was his default shelter on rainy nights or when he decided he’d like to rough it rather than sleep on someone’s sofa. It always amused me that the never took him to the shelter or tried to reign him in. They let him come and go like the rest of the town. And occasionally they took him for a ride. The most un-K9 cop of them all. He’d sit in the passenger seat, head out the window, tongue hanging out, barking joyfully.

Rufus remained the town dog for about three years when he adopted Mr. Goldman.

Mr. Goldman was a locksmith who lived next door to my best friend, Sean. Rufus lived with Sean’s family for a week and then wandered out the door and into Mr. Goldman’s house. Like most of the city Mr. G welcomed Rufus with a fond scratch on the head and some leftover meatloaf. It must have been some great meatloaf, because Rufus never left.

All of Silver Creek, including Mr. G, expected Rufus to decamp after a week or so, but it never happened. Every time Mr. G let Rufus out he’d think it would be to move on, and yet Rufus stayed. And stayed.

After three months, Mr. G bought a collar.

After six months, Mr. G got Rufus a license.

It still wasn’t uncommon to see Rufus trotting down the street as though he owned it. But now it was in tandem with Mr. G.

And Rufus never left. He stayed with Mr. Goldman for the rest of his 12 years and when he died, the whole town held a memorial for the brown shaggy dog that everyone loved.

There’s still a plaque with a photo of Rufus on the wall of the Silver Creek Police Department.

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