Shop Dogs: A true gentleman… uh… gentledog?

By JoAnn Bortles

For this edition of Shop Dogs, we meet a pup who is almost too good to be true. We all think our dog is the most special, but this guy, well, he’s very unique, as is his story. Todd Dross is a throwback to the old days of V-twin shops. In these days of motorcycle superstores and online shopping, talking to Todd was going through a time tunnel and it left me with a buzz that is still in effect. His shop, Twin Jugs Cycle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, doesn’t have an Instagram page and its Facebook page hasn’t been updated in over two years. But the shop is crazy busy. And don’t expect to bring your bike in on a Monday morning. Just like the old days they are closed on Monday. “My Tuesdays are like Monday,” Todd laughed. He does that a lot, laughing. He’s a happy guy and after meeting him on the phone, I can’t wait to meet him and his dog Rhett in person.

Todd met Rhett Butler, a six-year-old pit bull, eight months ago. Todd promised himself he’d never have another dog. “I had dogs a long time ago in another life.” But he had come across Adventure Tails, a program run by the ASPCA in Fredericksburg. It’s like a Big Brother for pets. You can take one of the grown dogs out for the day and have fun. It gets the dog out of the facility and helps to socialize them. And the participants don’t have the responsibility of vet and food bills. Todd took out a couple of different dogs but then he met Rhett. Rhett wasn’t overtly friendly and didn’t come readily to anyone. So, no one took him out for a day trip. He wouldn’t even come to the folks who fed him. He kept to himself. But Todd’s coworker Josh encouraged him to take Rhett for a day. “I know how you are. You got to get to this dog.” And as soon as Todd got into a visit room with the dog, Rhett lit up with a big smile. They went on an Adventure Tail and that was it.

And like his name, Rhett doesn’t really give a damn. He’s very laid back and not much gets to him. The guys can beat on bearings, run the dyno—nothing phases him. He’s just chill. Todd was worried about how Rhett would react to loud bikes and hammering but Rhett just lies there. In fact, they were concerned about his hearing, but he comes when he’s called. Turns out, he’s just super chill. At the shop there’s lots of stray cats. These cats walk right by Rhett and he couldn’t care less. Todd has a barn cat that Rhett has tried to make friends with and that cat will swat the dog. And Rhett just sits there. He seldom barks and sometimes sleeps with one eye open. Even the ASPCA had thought there was something wrong with him.

No one knows Rhett’s past, only that he was abandoned during Hurricane Irma in Florida. Someone traveling north had found him but couldn’t keep him. He ended up with the ASPCA.

Now he will get excited when it’s time to go for a run. Or if he thinks it’s time to play. Todd rides dirt bikes and quads and Rhett loves running along. There’s 14 acres of trails at Todd’s home and Todd has clocked him at 27 miles an hour. He’ll run alongside anything—Todd’s Sportster, the Servi-Car, pit bikes. But he also likes to lead the bike. Sometimes he lets Todd know he wants to play and will come up to him with his bone and hit him with it. So, Todd decided to tie a string to the bone and let him play with it. But Rhett wouldn’t touch it, because Rhett won’t jump. Now he jumps when he’s running, but he won’t jump for treats, not even if its 2” above his head. He will whine, push, paw you, but he won’t jump.

He goes with the flow until it’s playtime and then it’s go time. But he doesn’t like people to approach him; he waits until he wants to go to them. He likes to call the shots. When asked Rhett’s job title, Todd answered quickly. “I don’t see how he could be anything other than a supervisor, cause he does what a supervisor does. He walks around, he eyeballs, he lets you know when he needs to do something. But other than that, he’s quiet and he watches. Somewhere between silent security and supervisor.”

The hurricane might have had an effect on Rhett because for a long time, Rhett didn’t like water. Wouldn’t even go near it. But now he lays in the creek and will even take a bath. Like his human counterpart, Rhett is a gentleman, and he won’t chew anything up unless it’s given to him outside. He always like to eat outside. And the only time he’s on a leash is where it’s required, like in PetSmart. He’ll lay outside in front of the shop for hours and not leave the area. And he knocks at the door with his right paw when he wants to come in.

Todd says, “If I had gotten a dog as a puppy, paid someone thousands of dollars to train him, this is what the dog would be like. When I say I got lucky, I’m not talking about how I just got a buddy. This dude knows me!”

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