Did you know that the original name of this blog was called “A Girl and her Dog(s)?
Yep, it could all be said that when I rescued Gus, he really saved my life. Sure, he was malnourished, abused and heartworm positive, but that reticent, scared, hated to be touched yellow boy saved me. He made me think less about me, and more about something besides myself.
I always claim that Gus was an impulse acquisition. I had intended to go buy furniture, instead I brought home a dog. The immediate joy and happiness (and frustration, fear, irritation) that he brought me was overwhelming. He was just the perfect dog for me. I was at a particularly selfish point of my life. I was working a lot, in a weird relationship that really needed to be over, traveling all of the time, spending all of my money on shit I didn’t need. I had few real friendships at that point. I couldn’t tell you what was going on in most of my peoples lives. It was just go-go-go. I worked, therefore I was. I ignored most of what was going on around me because I truly despised my life (even though I wouldn’t have admitted it back then.)
Then, I got Gustafer. Or Gus. Or Gus Gus. Or Guster Burton. A dog of labradorian lineage that had been part of a puppy mill. He was stubborn, hated being in a crate, and shockingly to me now, hated ALL OF THE FOOD that I tried to feed him. I was told that he was not a good “people” dog and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
At my wits end, I took him to Camp Bow Wow Coppell, and I met a few women that will forever change the way my life worked with Gus. Camp Bow Wow- Coppell is owned by two fabulous women. Strong, smart, kind, caring leaders. Linda & Amy took us in and helped Gus learn how to play with others. How to be ok being touched. They told me that he was going to be OK through heartworm disease. They told me that it was ok to be frustrated with a dog that wouldn’t pee on the grass. The team of people that worked there at that time, saved my sanity. I will forever be grateful to Amy, Linda, Ashley, Aaron, Lynn, Amanda and Keely. Yes. I remember almost all of their names because they helped Gus Gus come out of his shell and made me realize it was going to be ok.
When Gus passed away this week he was somewhere between 106-110lbs. I laugh as I write this, because when I originally got Gus, he hated food. All of the food. He was barely 50lbs. Wouldn’t really eat anything but cheeseburgers from Sonic. Yes, only Sonic. Luckily, Linda & Amy told me about a great place in the area that sold great dog food and they might be able to help me. That “place” was Three Dog Bakery in Southlake. I will never, ever forget the day we walked in. Me, unsure of what to do with this yellow boy. Christy, the owner walked out beyond the counter (her husband was back behind the counter with a few of their mastiffs) and greeted me. We instantly bonded over Gusters name (we both adored a show called Psych) and she got down, loved on Gus, and we got him to eat a disgusting amount of doggie frosting, bones, and food. It worked. We became frequent customers and friends. Christy, Brad, Mary, Don, Tia, Trish and Jamye saw us entirely too many times per week. We met Bruce, a lovely Canadian who was getting treats for his pup Daisy. Bruces wife Julie is this amazing peaceful human that you just want to sit next to and drink wine. All of the wine. They now have 4 dogs- Daisy and Guster are hanging out, but the 4G Network is running strong these day. We met Christine and Fred, bad ass humans who just got it. We met Aunt Dawn, a courageous woman who loved Gus Gus and just kicked cancers ass this year. We met Melissa C. We met people at this store that I can still proudly call friends today.
Last night, I was talking to my cousin Trish about the impact of Gus. Yes, he was a dog. But he was a damn GOOD dog. He was friendly, kind, silly and just had something about him. I believe that because of Gus, we were able to get Trish out of a situation in Michigan and get her to move to Texas. There are clearly more mechanics around it, but if there was no dog, Trish wouldn’t be in Texas.
If there was no Gus, I don’t think I would be able to consider Bruce and Julie my people. We bonded over our dogs and became friends over the years. From them I met a plethora of people. If Gus wouldn’t have eaten, we wouldn’t have gone to Three Dog, and blah blah blah. My friends are good solid people.
It would be simple to say that he was just a dog. But he was more than that. He was my constant companion, the basis of all of the stories, something that forced me to get up in the morning and deal with life. There were many times over the years when life has totally sucked, but I knew that I had to get up and take care of the dogs. I couldn’t just lay there, there were two creatures (Weezie, or Eloise if you are fancy) to take care of.
We became our own little pack. My dogs travelled with me. Along the way, we picked up a slightly nuts black kinda lab named Weezie and we became three. They fought the squirrels, and I puked. They were the WORST leash walkers, but we did it anyways.
Over the years, I found myself drawn to people with dogs. We all just made sense to each other. We got what it’s like to care for a four legged creature and could laugh over the joy, the pain, the expense and life daily with the D-O-G.
The last 6 months has been hard. Oh, so very hard. Gus developed arthritis that made getting around a little harder. Stairs became challenging, running after the squirrels almost a non issue. We have been blessed with a tremendous team of people that took after Gus Gus. His primary vet, Dr. Robert Gaines has been an angel. Not only is he our vet, but he is our friend. He gave Gus extra time. I will go down and say that here. He extended the time and quality of Gusters life for just a little bit longer. We made some decisions to get Gus more comfortable and for a short time, it worked. I will always be thankful for the last 13 days of Gusters life. He was happy, humping and moving around better than he did in months. Dr. Jim Turner, owner of Farrell Animal Hospital was an a comfort to me on Wednesday. (Side note, because of Gus, we met Christy, who introduced me to Dr. Turner and his wife Mary…but that is another story.) Dr. Ashlie McBroom was our angel on Thursday. She was calm, patient and guided me to a decision I knew I had to make. These three vets were/are priceless humans.
This week hopefully will be a blur, but right now, I want to say thank you to my friend Kim. She was there at the very end. She helped me navigate through the last 18 hours with Gus. She kicked amazing ass. Heather & Troy. For supporting me, for kicking me into gear on Wednesday and telling me to get my ass into the car and get GUS IN. Troy. What can I say man? You have been my one man squirrel removal team for years, and you got to be one of the angels that helped Gus make his final car ride. Harrell, my friend. He helped, he sat, he cried.
The outpouring of love, support and kindness has been breathtaking. To the Howards. I will never ever know the right way to fully thank you for what you did this week. To Jenn. Your support, friendship and vodka concoction was incredible. Natalie A- your cookies made my heart happy. Julie- the flowers are perfect and the brownie was delicious at 2am this morning when I woke up thinking I heard Gus snore. Chris, Kristie & Peggy- you rock. Lisa, sweet Lisa, you made me smile. To Jen Ho. You. Just you. You telling me “do whatever the fuck you want to do, somehow made laying in bed ok.” Leslie- you stopped what you are doing and came over. You get it. You all get it.
There are 130 unread text messages that I just can’t bring myself to read. Over 155 posts on Facebook. A jillion private messages and phone calls. I know that they are there and will read them eventually. To each of you, I thank you for being you and knowing that my crazy soul needed this outpouring of love.
I’m not the first person to lose a dog, nor will I be the last. I am just exceptionally thankful for the joy that shedding, squirrel eating, calming, always by my side amazing creature brought to my life.
From the day that I got Gus, he was always my co-pilot. Hated sitting in the back and would only do it forced. He preferred to be in the passenger seat where he would sleep on my shoulder.
Gus really enjoyed Fritos. In fact, he ate almost a full bag of them on Sunday.
Gus loved children. All of the children, from infants to adults, Gus was patient, tolerate, loving and kind. He has converted dog fearing children into dog lovers. He has let twin babies climb all over him. He was enthralled with the laughter of kids. The more the kids laughed, the harder his tail wagged.
I’m going to miss my frito eating, squirrel chasing co pilot. Weezie and I are going to have to figure out a new routine and way for us to navigate our days. We need to define our new normal.
But for now, I leave you with this face… oh, this glorious, glorious face. Goodbye my buddy.