29 April, 2014

We Called Him Gus


Lucy named him Gus. Which was short for Octavius, the mouse in Cinderella, and also for Augustus Gloop, the boy from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Gus was a little chubby, but he was good natured and eager to please.

My husband is good at picking out the “used puppies” we tend to invite into our family. We never get a dog when they are new, only after they’ve been around awhile, maybe had a hard time, maybe they weren’t treated very well, that’s when they come to us, and it is always obvious which dog should come home with us. Gus made it clear he wanted to be our dog when he let four year-old Lucy walk him on a leash, and curled up next to Jake with his head under Jake’s hand to help initiate being pet. He was still not 100% healed when we got him, and while they were reluctant to let him go, everyone agreed it was a good fit. He was ours, and we had only stopped by to “take a look around.” 

He was skittish getting into our van the first time. It’s possible that given the ubiquity of that car in this state, that he was tossed out of one before he was found on the side of the road. We coaxed him in, and he lay down between the kids as if the spot had been built for him. We proceeded to eat dinner in the car, over his head, and not once did he try to sneak food from us. He was a good dog. He was a perfect addition to our family. Gus. Such a good boy. 

As it turns out, he didn’t really ever retrieve, despite being a Golden Retriever, and he is the first of that breed I have ever seen who was not motivated by food. Given the amount of edible debris spilled on the floor each day at my house I was not thrilled with this lack of enthusiasm for vacuuming. But what he lacked in housekeeping skills, he made up for in patience. 

That dog was laid on, jumped over, stepped on (by accident!), pushed out of the way, scooted out of the kitchen, and chased down the stairs. He was a pumpkin and a princess and a superhero, and a cowboy, and many, many other things that little children can dream up when they are between the ages of 4 and 8. He wore each costume with a slight roll of the eyes, but stayed still while little tiny fingers tried over and over to make the too-small hat fit upon his head. He trick-or-treated next to Jake’s wheelchair, amid all of those people and didn’t ever make a peep. 

Even when I stayed up way too late, hours after the other members of our family had gone to bed, Gus would wait for me, sitting at my feet, keeping me company in the light of the computer. 

It’s not easy to be a part of our family. We are loud, and unruly. There is almost always a television, an iPad, and a phone in use at the same time. We travel, to other destinations with more children and more dogs, and we over pack, leaving just enough room for living things to fit...just barely. Our house has many stairs, and a deck that overlooks the city, and there are deer all over the place outside, creating a life of attractive nuisance; all the deer a dog could want to chase, with none of the barking allowed. 

We love those who become a part of our pack, even those who spend their days lounging across the kitchen floor, seemingly in the way of every path to make dinner. With our whole hearts we are thankful for the time we had with Gus, for another bit of fluffy, warm love that we got to have in our lives. We were so lucky to find him and so happy he chose us. 

He is loved, and he will be missed.
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