DEL MAR — Jeff Narucki thinks dogs are like wine and cheese in that they improve with age.
He is so smitten with Rusty, an 8-year-old Akita-shepherd he adopted three months ago, and Rusty’s predecessor, BooBoo, that he’s created a blog to tell the world about the joys of senior dogs. He also offers tips, pet products he endorses and photos of other seniors who need homes. Already, he’s got an international following.
A product manager at Audatex in San Diego, Narucki says it all began with BooBoo who he met at an adoption event sponsored by the rescue group, Dog Squad, four years ago. A volunteer introduced him to BooBoo and said he’d make the perfect dog. Narucki was reluctant, thinking of all the things that could go wrong with an older dog, but agreed to at least foster him.
“The volunteer said he was a stray and had been in the shelter for two months,” he said. “That got to me.”
Once BooBoo moved in, Narucki had to deal with trust issues.
“He was never a mean dog,” he said. “It took three months before he’d sit in the same room with me, and about six months before he wagged his tail. I wasn’t sure that I’d ever understand what he went through, but it all worked out.”
BooBoo eventually forged a bond with Narucki, and spent the last three and a half years of his life experiencing unconditional love. Last May Narucki made the difficult decision to have BooBoo put to sleep.
Meanwhile, rescuer Larry Abgarian had been posting ads on Petfinder for Rusty who he pulled from the Carlsbad shelter more than a year earlier. Narucki responded.
“It was Memorial Day and I took an extra day of vacation and called Larry,” he said. “I explained my situation, that I am 42, and wanted a senior dog, even if I could only give him a year or two. Larry said most people don’t think like me.”
The two met at the Animal Keeper in Encinitas where Rusty lived for more than a year.
“When Jeff first met Rusty I sensed he made an immediate connection,” Abgarian said.
After filling out the adoption form, the next step was a home visit.
“He had everything ready including a new bed for Rusty, toys and water bowls placed throughout the house,” Abgarian said. “He showed me photos of BooBoo and talked about wanting another older dog.
“To me, Jeff is the kind of adopter you dream about, but don’t come across too often,” he said. “After multiple visits, I came away more convinced than ever that Rusty had found his perfect forever home.”
Narucki gave Rusty the ultimate compliment by dressing him with BooBoo’s old scarf. Soon Rusty became a fixture in his new neighborhood when people began remarking to Jeff, “Oh, you got a new dog? This one is kind of old, too.”
“BooBoo was a passive dog, and Rusty is a ball of fire,” Narucki said. “He lets people know that he’s the boss. It’s been almost four months now and he’s pretty much acclimated. He’s got a lot of friends which is crazy.”
When they return from their walks Rusty likes to eat, then he jumps on the bed or lies in the sun for a while. If he’s feeling frisky, Rusty knows how to get a rise out of Jeff who is native of Levittown, N.Y.
“I have a book about the Yankees on my coffee table,” he said. “He’ll pick the book up, he won’t chew it, then lay it down as if to say, ‘Look at me.’”
He smiled and added, “Larry suggested I write about ‘adventures with Rusty.’”
That’s when the idea for the blog was born. Narucki, who loves to write, launched it at the beginning of July.
He began by writing, “This blog is for BooBoo and for my new senior buddy, Rusty, and all of those senior dogs that make a difference in their owners’ lives.”
Jeff’s base has grown from one or two visitors per day from Southern California to 25 to 30 representing a worldwide audience. Residents of a Spanish town have returned to the website more than 40 times.
To learn more about Narucki and Rusty’s life together, visit seniorpooch.com.