This is Gus:
When I first met Gus I thought he was the most obnoxious beast I’d ever had the misfortune of encountering. My husband got Gus as a puppy several years prior to our meeting and hadn’t had the heart to discipline him much. When Cameron first brought Gus home he let the puppy sleep in bed with him curled up on his chest until one night Cameron awoke to Gus happily taking a dump there.
After that Gus was crate trained, but that was pretty much the extent of his training. By the time I was in the picture Gus was sleeping in the bed again, although he had thankfully learned to poop elsewhere. I actually had to fight Gus for space on the bed at first.
My general dislike for the mongrel wasn’t changing towards admiration. Especially since he tended to try to dart out the front door and run away as often as possible, causing me or my husband to chase after him. He was still intact then and constantly on the prowl for bitches. Trying to corral his energy to walks proved disastrous. Gus nearly pulled me down the street. He also constantly jumped up on me and peed with reckless disregard for furniture and feet alike. I assumed that Gus was just something I would have to deal with because my husband (then boyfriend) loved him.
Then one day I got a frantic call from Cameron at work. We were just dating, but I had already moved in. He was out of town on a training mission. Our roommate had taken Gus for a walk that morning. Gus had broken free of his collar and ran straight into the path of a minivan.
Cameron was gone, and I had to do something. I was 25 and broke, but I didn’t hesitate to put down a $500 deposit so that the vet could get to work. It was tense waiting to hear if he would be alright.
He almost lost a leg. It still bears the scars and he limps in the cold. Thankfully, the rest of him was undamaged, and today only the scars give proof that he was ever injured.
Before I took him home that day I bought him a new dog bed and special treats. It cost me another $100, but I wanted him to be comfortable. I couldn’t let him up on the people bed where he usually slept, because if he tried to jump down he’d hurt himself even worse. I got the largest, plushest bed I could find and set it up in the bedroom.
Lying in his new dog bed on the floor next to me, he kept crying in pain, even though I’d given him all of the pain medicine I could. I got down next to him with a pillow and the comforter and cooed at him while gently stroking his fur to try to calm him down. It was the hardest night of my life.
That night Gus became my dog too. He went from an unimaginable annoyance to my baby. There are more pictures of him on my phone now than anything else. I have many conversations with him, although his English skills are lacking. It’s ok though; I’ve become a master of interpretation. A whimper after I’ve stopped scratching his back might translate to: “why did you stop petting me? Don’t you love me so much that you want to be petting me and playing with me ALL THE TIME?” And I do love him. I love this dog so much that I’ll pick up his poop with a plastic bag and let him lick my face even though I know he also loves to lick his butthole.
Gus became even more important to me when we did our first PCS to New England as a family. I went from working full-time to unemployed. I volunteered and started hobbies, but found that Gus was my constant companion. Cameron had to leave for various trips, including an 8-week stint in VA while I mostly stayed in the North East. Gus made me feel safe, even though he is afraid of almost everything including rain, stairs, small dogs, kitchen gadgets, vacuum cleaners, the ukulele and baths. His presence was enough to make me feel less lonesome during days at home or when my husband had to leave for extended periods.
Now I know that when Cameron goes on deployment, Gus will be there to dutifully notify me with a howl whenever a leaf passes before a streetlamp at 3 in the morning. He’s done it before, and while a bit startling, it’s also a comfort I never knew I’d need. If I lived near family or had a husband whose job didn’t require him to leave for months at a time, it might be different. But as it stands this goofy pup is the glue that keeps it all working, and I love him for it.