Remembering Rudy

May 12, 2009

By Eric Davis, DVM

Last month came the passing of a great friend of our program and animals everywhere. Rudy Futer was a gentle and caring soul who was not satisfied to enjoy old age and retirement in Carmel, California—he wanted to do more.

He believed deeply in helping others, especially the most helpless. His generosity spanned from supporting the development of safe water resources for Guatemalan villagers to animal protection and direct care projects, such as HSVMA Rural Area Veterinary Services (HSVMA-RAVS).

A true animal lover

Rudy Futer and his dog
A local newspaper printed this photo of Rudy and his companion, Munchkin.
Carmel Pine Cone

I first met Rudy at a fund raising event in California, and when he heard that I was an equine veterinarian, we started talking about one of his great loves: his miniature horses. Rudy had a herd of 12 of the diminutive creatures that lived on a ranch overlooking Point Lobos State Seashore, just south of Carmel.

He had arranged for them to live there "in perpetuity", enjoying the ocean breezes in one of the most scenic parts of the world, even though he could rarely visit them from the convalescent hospital where he lived. That was Rudy—looking out for not just the sustenance, but also the comfort and happiness of others.

This also extended to his adopted dog, "Munchkin", a little mixed breed waif from the local shelter, who was his constant companion. With major mobility problems, Rudy had to spend a lot of time sitting in a chair, and Munchkin had developed a little nest right next to him, the two of them fitting just perfectly together.

Rudy loved his animals and had a tendency to have a lot of questions about their care. As an engineer, he liked to analyze the answers he got, often to the annoyance of the veterinarians providing them.

As the son of an engineer myself, I did not mind his persistence on such issues as "Why does a miniature horse get the same dose of tetanus vaccine as a thoroughbred?" I had grown up in an analytical household and enjoyed these discussions and debates with Rudy.

We got to be friends—that is, Rudy, his miniature herd, Munchkin, and me.

An example for all

His support of HSVMA-RAVS was genuine. Rudy's generosity was responsible for our critical increases in skilled staff, making our program so much more successful and effective.

For over five years, each quarter, we have been able to depend on his loyalty and support in coordination with the Community Foundation for Monterey County.

Not only have Rudy’s gifts had a ‘ripple effect’ far beyond his time on earth—as he often said was his goal—but thanks to his vision, Rudy’s support will continue coming through the Foundation for years to come, increasing his legacy for animals in need.

The technicians and veterinarians that Rudy’s estate continues to support are not only providing care for needy animals in poor rural communities all over the USA, but they are training a whole generation of students to do the same good work.

In this country, where so many are overly concerned about holding on to what is theirs and ignoring all the need around them, Rudy Futer knew what creates real happiness.

His kindness and generosity should be an example for all of us.

Dr. Eric Davis developed the HSVMA Rural Area Veterinary Services (HSVMA-RAVS) program in 1995 and has served as mentor and inspiration to hundreds of young veterinary professionals over the years. He continues his hard work in the field and is currently a consultant for the program.