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Rusty Leads the Way

Rusty Leads the Way(1948)


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In the small town of Lawtonville, thirteen-year-old Danny Mitchell decides to run away from home with his dog Rusty after his father punishes him for not doing his chores. Certain that Danny will change his mind and stay at the last moment, his parents, Hugh and Ethel, help him pack his bags. Danny leaves, but returns a short time later when he smells his mother's goulash cooking. Later, Danny discovers that a new family has moved into his neighborhood and visits their house, where he listens to Penny Waters, a blind girl, play the piano. Penny, who lives with her widowed mother, becomes the subject of much debate at Danny's school when the education board discovers that she is not officially enrolled. Some board members suspect that Penny's mother is too sensitive about her daughter's blindness to enroll her in school, and other members, including Harry Ainsworth, object to any plans to spend school money to accomodate Penny. While Hugh, the city attorney, is obligated to enforce a law requiring Penny to attend a special state school for the blind, Danny, realizing that Penny does not want to attend such a school, tries to find another solution. After seeing Penny and Rusty at play, Danny gets an idea to provide Penny with a Seeing Eye dog. With the help of his father, Danny persuades the school board to give the plan a chance and postpone its decision to send Penny to the state school. Penny is instead referred to the Reed Foundation, where she begins her training in the use of a Seeing Eye dog. Under the supervision of Louise Adams, the chief trainer at the Reed Foundation, Penny is assigned a dog named Tubby. A short time later, however, Penny becomes frustrated by Tubby's loyalty to Louise, and longs for her familiarity with Rusty. She decides to quit the training program, and asks Louise to drive her back to Lawtonville. As Penny resigns herself to going to the to the state school for the blind, she is suprised by the unexpected arrival of Tubby, who has found her way back to her after running away from Louise. Tubby's return is proof enough for Penny that the dog will be loyal to her, and she gladly accepts him as her new guide dog.