In today's "I'm not crying, you're crying" news, Twitter is mourning the loss and celebrating the life of Rusty, the dog who provided comfort to the staff and patients alike at Winnipeg's St. Boniface Hospital. Rusty passed away after a long battle with cancer on Wednesday, Feb. 16, one day after his birthday.
The community around the loveable pup mourned their loss, but it wasn't until the Twitter account, WeRateDogs, tweeted out a goodbye message to him on National Love Your Pet Day that people all over took up the call to thank Rusty for his many years of service.
This was Rusty. For 10 years he comforted patients and staff at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg. Yesterday, one day after his eighteenth birthday, Rusty passed away. Flowers and a pair of his trademark glasses were left on his favorite chair. He is our fifteenth 15/10 ❤️ pic.twitter.com/LylNq0tCSu— WeRateDogs® (@dog_rates) February 20, 2020
Rusty the dog had a goodbye message that we should all take to heart.
Rusty was such a good boy, he couldn't leave without saying goodbye. As "Rusty" explained on his Facebook page, shortly after his birthday, his inoperable mouth cancer spread to his front legs and lungs, leaving him unable to eat or stand. His owner, George Ames, took him to a vet that informed him that there was nothing left to do at that point.
He left his fans with a message, saying, "My wish and hope is that all of you will do me a favour. I would like you to follow my example and work diligently in your careers, keep a positive attitude, and always smile at other people. It worked for me. They will smile back at you, trust me, I know what I’m talking about!"
"Whenever you see a photo of me, or even think about me, please remember our friendship. Plus, know that I am pulling for you to live a happy and honourable life. The legacy that I would like to leave, is to inspire more people and their dogs to get involved with pet therapy volunteering. The demand is there, and the rewards are too."
He ended his note, saying, "Make me proud, my friends. Do good deeds for others."
Those who knew the sweet pup are sharing their stories.
Rusty worked at St. Boniface Hospital for many years and did hundreds of shifts in their pet therapy program. He retired just last November. Over his many years, he touched a lot of lives and those he made smile are sharing their stories of the bespectacled dog.
"I had my encounter with Rusty in late May 2019,” one man told CJOB. “I had been visiting a good friend of mine at Grace Hospital and after learning from him that he was not doing well with his cancer I left shortly after. Dejected, sad, upset and with tears at the ready, I walked off the elevator and immediately saw Rusty."
"I almost walked by, but he seemed to call out to me offering a smile. I stopped and asked the owner if I might pet him. 'Not only pet him but you can give him a treat!' he replied. My worries and sadness evaporated. My tears receded and I left 20 minutes later feeling so much better. Such was his power and love."
Others shared their stories on St. Boniface's and Rusty's Facebook pages. One woman noted that Rusty was the one who cheered her up while her newborn son was in NICU. Another man said he met Rusty while visiting his father in the weeks leading up to his father's passing. He said that Rusty "provided a spark of light in my life during a period of extreme darkness and sadness."
Many members of the hospital staff also shared pictures and stories of how he made even the toughest work days brighter.
Thanks to WeRateDogs, Rusty is now being celebrated all over the world.
Following WeRateDog's post about Rusty, #RIPRusty began trending. Those who never met the therapy dog took to Twitter to thank him for his service and wish him peace over the Rainbow Bridge. It also became a hashtag to allow us all to collectively cry together. The hashtag additionally helped more stories come out, showing just how many people he affected.
Thank you for your many years of service Rusty and we hope you found peace and a lot of tennis balls over that Rainbow Bridge.