February 24, 2019

1st-and-Woof: Bombers fullback’s canine best friend

Provided Photo

When fullback John Rush announced his extension with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last month, his contract featured two ‘signatures’ — his handwritten one, and an inked stamp of his dog Bone’s paw.

Man and dog are now a package deal; the 25-year-old Rush adopted Bone, a Great Pyrenees, in Ontario this off-season and their bond grew quickly.

For Rush — a dedicated volunteer at the Winnipeg Humane Society — the transition from volunteer to dog owner was an easy one.

“The last bye week of the season, I flew home to (Niagara Falls to) see my brother and his newborn baby. I was looking on Petfinder.com and found Bone,” explained Rush, who now shares daily content with his dog on Twitter and Youtube. “He’d just got there, I called them up — within 15 minutes, I’d adopted him and paid for everything.

Inseparable. (John Rush photo)

“He had to get all his shots and neutered and everything, then he was mine,” continued Rush. “It took a long time, eight months or so, and a lot of things went into finding the right dog.”

It almost didn’t happen: One week before Rush adopted Bone, he had been on the so-called ‘death row’ in Quebec, marked to be euthanized.

Luckily for all parties involved, Hamilton took him in and gave the Great Pyrenees another chance to find a home.

“The shelter in Quebec calls Ontario shelters before they euthanize the dogs, (and) Hamilton had faith (to) take him in and save him,” explained Rush. “To be able to take a dog from literally days away from being killed, to bringing him into a home that’s loving and caring, you feel that connection and bond with them.”

Now, the two are inseparable.

“When I go away for a bit, you can see the look on his face,” chuckled Rush. “He scrunches up his face when he sees me.

Big dogs require a big bath. (John Rush photo)

“To be a part of it, to have helped someone else in that way…the shelter community is an amazing community like that,” continued the University of Guelph alum. “What they thrive off of is helping other dogs that are in terrible situations.”

Along with teammates like Thomas Miles, Rush volunteers at the Winnipeg Humane Society — located a short drive from Winnipeg’s Investors Group Field.

“They have a really amazing facility there, (with) an education centre, kids camps during the summers,” explained Rush. “They host dog-training seminars and help dogs that are reactive after poor situations get rehabilitated.”

The Bombers fullback says people looking to get involved can go a step further than a simple financial donation.

“The biggest one would be donating your time — the Humane Society and all dog shelters live off volunteers,” explained Rush. “Me and a couple teammates try to take some dogs out, come (and) play with them, so they’re not just cooped up in the shelter.

“Another way is donating old and good things you don’t need anymore — we have a ton of quilts we’re donating shortly,” he continued. “Towels, newspapers, old dog toys. I always find that donating your time and gently-used items more than just ‘oh, here’s 50 bucks’ means more.”

John Rush and his dog Bone will be in Winnipeg in 2019, following the former’s signing of a two-year deal with the Blue Bombers this off-season.