By BILL MOOR, South Bend Tribune

South Bend, IN (AP) – It wasn’t like Rudy to disobey. But as hard as his owner, Lee Ann Moore, pulled on the leash, Rudy wouldn’t budge. Not an inch.

Rudy and his best friend

“He was sniffing under this bush and he finally just sat down,’’ Lee Ann said of her 98-pound Great Dane-black lab mix.

Then Rudy looked up at her with this expression that pretty much said, “Well . have I gotten your attention yet?’’

He had. “So I got down on my knees and I discovered this half-dead little kitten under the bush,’’ Lee Ann continues. “We took it home, wondering if it would even make it through the night.’’

The little cat ended up flourishing under Lee Ann’s and Dr. Craig Anderson’s care but it was Rudy who basically became its mommy.

“He followed Rudy everywhere and actually started acting more like a dog than a cat, sitting on command, running to the door when the doorbell rang and sleeping on Rudy’s bed beside him,’’ Lee Ann continues.

“His name is R.K., pronounced more like Ricky. But those initials stand for `Rudy’s kitty.’ They were best of friends.’’

Rudy had plenty of two-legged friends, too,“many people thought he had human-like qualities,’’ but we’ll get to them later.

R.K. is the one who may have mourned the most when health problems got the best of Rudy earlier this winter. He was 12. He and R.K. had become “fast and furrious’’ friends six years ago.

“For days, R.K. sat at the door waiting for Rudy to come home,’’ Lee Ann says.

A cat really can feel the loss of a dog.

But Rudy was just as special around his Town and Country Estates neighborhood as he was in his own home.

. Nancy Zawacki would pick up Rudy every morning and take him on her daily walk.

. Bob and Dixie Mason would let Rudy out to do his business when Lee Ann was at work.

. Olivia Arend enjoyed stopping by and adding another toy to Rudy’s big box of chewies.

. Joey Pierce, Lee Ann’s mom, loved sharing the front seat with Rudy on drives.

. Other neighbors would give Rudy a treat when he would stop by on his evening walk.

“They often would give him a piece of meat _ or whatever was left over from their meal that night,’’ Lee Ann says. “I finally gave them some dog treats so they wouldn’t feel obligated to pass out part of their supper. But Rudy would balk at the treats, knowing there was probably something better inside their house.’’

. Then there were the retired Holy Cross sisters at Saint Mary’s College where Lee Ann is the volunteer coordinator and where Rudy happily served as a therapy dog. He still had the energy to deliver lavender bars to the sisters for Christmas.

He endeared himself to everybody who met him ever since Lee Ann couldn’t walk out of Pet Smart without him 10 years ago during a PetsConnect adoption day.

“I just had put down hardwood floors and was only in there to buy kitty litter,’’ she says. “The woman there convinced me to take him for a walk and then home for a while. I was sure I was going to take him back. But it was like he had been in my house forever.’’

He learned to do a little dance when he would wipe his paws on the mat . rang the little bells on the doorknob when he needed to go out . and had a bed on each level of Lee Ann’s tri-level home.

He also could find a treat no matter where Lee Ann had hidden it and, by her count, knew the meaning of more than 30 phrases.

“After Rudy died, I received so many mementoes and cards from those who Rudy had touched,’’ Lee Ann adds. “He seemed to know he had a purpose in life.’’

Like so many of our pets, he gave others comfort and blind love, including a little cat that he saved and who now has a hard time choosing where to sleep.