Rudy hasn’t been home in awhile. His mom thinks he might be spending his days nestled between piles of dirty laundry, unopened biology textbooks and empty Natty Light cartons. He’s a little on the short side—15 inches tall, to be exact. And he’s a rooster.
The multicolored lawn ornament, which owner Cindy Winning dubbed ‘Rudy,’ kept watch in the front yard of her home at 1205 Dandridge St. last fall. That is, until someone with a farm fetish or a curious sense of humor plucked Rudy from his perch back in October. Winning’s theory? Rudy is somewhere on the Mary Washington campus, living the dorm life after a college student decided he’d be the perfect complement to an Animal House poster or new video game console.
“I have a 22-year-old daughter who goes to VCU who does stuff like that,” she explained. “She has street signs and Obama signs in her room. So I know it’s a college thing. I just know it has to be a student.”
Winning isn’t surprised that Rudy caught someone’s eye.
“It’s very eclectic, and not the type of rooster you’d see at a country store,” she said with a smile.
When Winning was visiting her elderly friend, Ruth, she expressed interest in the rooster in her friend’s yard. Soon, Ruth had given Winning a rooster of her very own.
Sophomore John Ehlers ‘met’ Rudy since he occasionally came over to Winning’s house to water her garden.
“Oh, that thing was so cool!” he said. “But, I guess sometimes things like that are fun to have in your room. Wait, but I didn’t take it!” he added with a laugh.
“It’s not uncommon for things to be stolen from a yard,” Natatia Bledsoe, public information officer and spokeswoman of Fredericksburg Police, explained. Most items aren’t found because of the lack of witnesses.
Bledsoe noted that Winning’s case is unusual because most larcenies occur so that the items can be quickly pawned or sold for cash.
“Most criminals don’t steal something just to keep it for themselves,” she said. More often, stolen items will end up in pawn shops, which is why the police department checks pawn slips carefully.
As far as Winning advertising for Rudy in the hopes of getting him back, she added, “It’s not a bad idea on her part. But she still should report it.”
After the disappearance of Rudy, Winning made a handmade sign asking for his return.
“I didn’t call the police,” she explained, “because, more than likely, it’s just a student having prankster fun. I’m not doing that to them, not over a rooster.”
But Winning is serious about getting him back. So serious that she is offering a reward.
“What do you suggest?” she asked. “Aren’t you a college student? Maybe lunch at my house with Ruth? Or I could have a cookout at my house for the person and three of their friends?”
If Rudy doesn’t leave his college days behind him, Cindy will have to repopulate her front yard with new inhabitants.
“I’m thinking really cheesy pink flamingos,” she said with a smile.
Rudy isn’t the only outdoor resident of 1205 Dandridge St.. Nunley the Gnome lives in the backyard. He even makes appearances at local bars, like the Fredericksburg incarnation of the Travelocity Roaming Gnome.
“Oh, let’s see, we’ve taken him to Bailey’s and Colonial Tavern,” she listed.
Rudy has never been to a bar, at least not with her.
“I don’t need to know where he’s been,” she emphasized, “I just want him back. It’s time for Rudy to come home.”