By Grace Poole
Rusty, a border collie puppy, can be found most sunny afternoons running through the quad and greeting students with his owner Tim Shean, a Trevecca Towers resident.
“When I see Rusty, it makes me feel more at home,” said Ellie Willson, a junior at Trevecca.
Shean adopted Rusty in May this year after saying goodbye to his previous border collie, Franklin, who spent seven years playing with students on campus.
Rusty is the most vocal border collie Shean has ever met.
“He loves to sing. I can’t pull out my guitar without him going ‘arooooo,’ and he wants to sing harmonies with me and with the people on the TV. He started singing in the car to radio the other day,” said Shean.
Shean is careful not to harm Rusty’s spirit, and he hopes to teach him when and when not to sing one day.
“I don’t want to crush his joy, ‘’ said Shean, who owns a recording and producing company in Nashville and often needs to practice the guitar without the sweet interruption.
Students can find Rusty carrying one ball in his mouth and playing with another between his paws.
“He’s too smart for one toy I guess. I don’t think it’s greedy; I think he’s just too smart,” said Shean.
Tyler Saum, a senior at Trevecca, met Shean a few semesters ago when he was with his other dog Franklin. Saum described his friendship with Franklin, Rusty and Shean as an “escape” from everyday stress.
“I met Rusty and was like ‘wow, this is just a younger Franklin,’” said Saum.
Willson agrees. She said she misses her pets at home and being able to play fetch with Rusty makes her feel more at home.
Shean has lived in the Trevecca towers for eight years and started to bring Franklin, his last border collie, to the quad when he was 7-years-old. Franklin ran the hills of Trevecca for seven years until he passed in December 2021.
“I kept him as long as he wanted to be here and that was my promise. One Wednesday I woke up and looked in his eyes, but he just didn’t want to be here anymore,” said Shean.
Shean said he teaches all of his border collies to be respectful of people. Although border collies are smart dogs, training them can be difficult because they need to first trust their owner.
“You cannot beat these guys into submission. You have to convince them that you know more than they do before they are willing to accept you as being in charge. Then they’ll make a pact with you in a heartbeat,” said Shean.
Per an agreement Trevecca has with the Towers, the university welcomes residents to walk the campus, including grassy areas like the quad and in front of Waggoner.
“The university tries to be an open and welcoming environment,” said Greg Dawson, chief of campus security.
Shean adopted Rusty from East Tennessee Border Collie Rescue. He said he could see the intelligence in Rusty’s eyes from the picture and is looking forward to training him.
“Critters and kids are happiest when we raise them,” said Shean.