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Kiley knows her dog Rusty isn't real, but she misses him anyway

March 23, 2001

Kiley knows her dog Rusty isn't real, but she misses him anyway



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY

andreabh@herald-mail.com

MYERSVILLE, Md. - Like everything else she does, Kiley Slimmer wanted to share her first roller skating experience with her best friend.

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So the four-year-old Myersville, Md., youngster sat her stuffed dog Rusty where he could watch her circle the rink at the Family Skating Center in Hagerstown on March 11.

When Kiley finished skating, Rusty was gone.

Kiley's parents, Chris and Patti Slimmer, searched the rink and its garbage containers but there was no sign of the furry brown toy. They are offering a $50 reward for Rusty's safe return.

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Wherever he is, Kiley hopes Rusty is not alone, cold or sad, she said.

The little girl knows the dog isn't real, but she is lost without him, said her grandmother, Sue Slimmer.

"We just do everything together," Kiley said.

She's learning to read by writing letters to Rusty and putting them in his mailbox at her grandmother's house. Kiley even "mailed" Rusty several packages filled with surprises for him when he comes home, she said.

Rusty helps Kiley feed the chickens and rabbits. They swing and sled together. Kiley takes Rusty with her to the hospital, dentist's office, supermarket and pet store.

"He was just crazy with the snakes," she said. "He wanted us to hide his eyes."

Kiley and Rusty eat pancakes with peanut butter. Kiley said she can't eat pancakes until Rusty comes home because she knows he loves them more.

The duo celebrated holidays and birthdays together. Costumed as Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz" for Halloween, Kiley carried Rusty as Toto in her basket. The dog donned reindeer antlers and a red nose to play Rudolph at Christmastime.

It was Kiley's breath that blew out Rusty's birthday candle.

"His birthday wish was for a tail but he didn't say what color he wanted," Kiley giggled. "He got white and we had to paint it brown because his fur is brown."

Now Kiley has a wish. She wants her best friend to come home.

Rusty can be returned to the skating rink at 17333 Virginia Ave. or mailed to Kiley at 10655 Baltimore National Pike, Myersville, Md., 21773.

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