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Rusty spent the first two years of her life running a racetrack under the name "Vixen Bondage." When she turned out not to be the fastest dog (and caused many gamblers to lose a pretty penny, I'm sure), she was put on track to a better life thanks to a greyhound rescue organization.

I admit it—Rusty and I had a love-hate relationship at first. My mother brought Rusty home the day after I left for college. Feeling uncertain and out of my element in my dorm room, I called home after my first night away and she told me they had found my "replacement." Clueless that she was even looking for a dog, I balked. My mom then told me I had a "new sister," which didn't make matters any better. I decided then and there that since the family made the decision without me, she would never be my dog. As my mom sent photos of Rusty and my sister, Rusty in a baseball cap, Rusty lounging in the sun, I put each one in the back of my desk drawer. To make matters worse, when I finally met Rusty, she wouldn't even look at me.

But secretly, I liked Rusty. She was shy around strangers because of the abusive conditions she lived in, and we warmed up to one another as the years went by. For such a big dog, she was a total couch potato and spent hours batting around her dog bed until she had it just the right way. Then, she'd nap for hours. When she woke up, she ran figure-8s around the yard. She'd put down the pig ears she loved and would bark in her two cents if there was a group of us chatting in the living room. She sunbathed practically nose-to-nose with my little sister. She even created holiday memories—one Thanksgiving, she escaped from the backyard and the entire family took off after her. Needless to say, she left us in her dust.

As the years went on and I moved out on my own, Rusty always welcomed me home. The love and compassion she showed my family during some tough times is the legacy she left us after her passing last spring.

— Joan, associate producer


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