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The Ruttle Report - A good dog isn't hard to find

Animals can play with our emotions, and there's no greater example than man's best friend - the dog.
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Before I get started, please allow me to shamelessly promote something. But hey, at least it's connected to the theme this week.

As many of you are aware, we have a four-legged furball of a mascot at our offices here at The Outlook. Weiss is a big, burly St. Bernard who has no earthly idea how big he is, and he carries with him the enthusiasm of a young pup despite his obvious adult age.

Weiss is popular, so with that, I went ahead and officially debuted him on social media by making him a Facebook fan page. He'll post photos, jokes, and daily thoughts from his low-to-the-ground point of view on everything from life and the media to his never-ending argument that dogs rule and, in fact, cats drool.

You can follow the page at and stay up to date on 'Weiss's wisdom'. He's a smart boy, so I think we all could learn a thing or two.

Now, with that out of the way - Weiss is looking at me pleasingly as I type this - let me retain this main subject while we're discussing it - dogs.

They come in all shapes, sizes and breeds, and for my money, they're some of the most incredible, loving, and emotional animals on the planet.

My own personal history with dogs is a tale of much love, many memories, and of course, some heartbreak.

I'll start with Heidi, who was our family's own St. Bernard (yes Weiss, there's a history!) when I was 8 years old. We adopted Heidi from an elderly man near Saskatoon in March 1994, and to my recollection, he simply didn't have room for her anymore as his quality of life was starting to diminish. So, along came the Ruttle Family to give her a good home.

I can still remember my dad at the wheel of the minivan driving home and looking back to see my poor mom having about 100+ pounds of dog floof all over her as Heidi hugged her for all she was worth throughout the hour-long drive back to Conquest. We got her home, we let her explore her new surroundings, and then we proceeded to make this big, furry canine feel as welcome as we could into our lives. We took her for walks, we established a routine at home, and Heidi acclimated well into the Ruttle Family's way of life.

The only negative about Heidi was the fact that we all believed that she wasn't around that many other people in her original household. For all we knew, it was just her and the old man, so whenever we would have visitors at our house, Heidi would throw a barking fit and we'd have to calm her down. It was annoying, but hey, you do whatever you can for your pets, right? Aside from that, life with Heidi was fun and interesting.

Then in May of 1996, only two years since we got her, Heidi became ill and she wouldn't eat her dog food. I wish I had the specifics of what went wrong with her, but I was at school on the day that my parents took her to the veterinarian. All I remember is coming home from school one day, seeing she was nowhere to be found, and a teary-eyed Mom sitting at the kitchen table wondering just how the hell she was going to tell her kids that the family dog was no longer with us. Heidi had gone to sleep earlier that day to relieve her of her suffering, and of course, we cried for what felt like days. Still miss you, girl.

Moving forward to the spring of 1997, our family got another dog when my mom let me buy my own dog, a black labrador simply named Bud. Now Bud, he was a character. He was funny, he was personable, he was loving, and he wanted to be around everybody because he wanted to feel included in everything that I did, that my family did, and that we did with total strangers. He was my 'ride or die' dog, and I can only smile when I think of him. Bud loved daily trips out to the barn to see the horses, and he loved sitting between family members on warm summer nights when we'd get the bonfire going out back. And then, of course, on a veterinary checkup appointment in the summer of 2003, the prognosis wasn't good - the doc felt a rather sizable lump in Bud's throat glands, and the later diagnosis was, in fact, cancer. I had a decision to make, and it was one that I certainly wouldn't wish on any other 17-year old. Did we just take a chance and hope that it subsided over time with some medicine, or did we end Bud's chance of going through some terribly painful suffering later in life?

I chose the latter, and I proceeded to bawl my eyes out as I said goodbye to one of my best friends. My dad, a big and burly man in his prime, showed his often-emotional side as he took my hand and promised me that we would get another dog to love in time, and then he told me it was time to go. Mom and Dad took Bud for a van ride, and only the humans returned home. To this day, Bud is still buried behind the barn outside of Conquest; a place that he loved and where he made his own memories.

And then, there was Kola. Kola, another black Lab, entered our family's lives in April 2005 after being adopted from the SPCA. From her very first few moments in the house, she was keen on making it her own. Kola and my family just 'clicked', as they say. She was a bundle of energy, excitement, and she just had the funniest ways of showing affection that it made my mom laugh terribly, like getting so excited about something that her first reaction would be to go and pick up her steel water bowl and drop it. CLANG!, we'd hear. Oh, Kola's excited about something. We took her on many family trips, so she got to see her fair share of the world outside of Conquest, and I can specifically remember coming home from film school out in BC in May 2006 and watching her tail go completely bonkers, swapping back and forth in excitement. Man, the years we had with Kola were just filled with love.

But of course, everything has to end. In February 2016, just shy of 11 years old, Kola showed some disturbing signs that something was wrong, and a vet visit told us that she had cancer in many parts of her body. There was certainly no turning back the dial. I remember just having this feeling that her time was already limited before we even left for the vet, and I started crying right then and there. After we dropped her off for a checkup, the doctor phoned a few hours later and broke the news to Mom, who started crying right there on the phone. I told her and Brendon that I would go and be with Kola, right beside her as she left this world, and I'm proud to say that I was. I miss you every day, girl.

Dog ownership is both a blessing and a curse in the sense that it just feels so damn short, no matter how many years we're blessed to spend with these amazing animals.

But all the same, we've got to enjoy the time we have with them.

Now if you'll all excuse me, Weiss is looking at me from my office door, which means that I've got a boop to snoot.

For this week, that's been the Ruttle Report.

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