I have sometimes thought of the final cause of dogs having such short lives and I am quite satisfied it is in compassion to the human race; for if we suffer so much in losing a dog after an acquaintance of ten or twelve years, what would it be if they were to live double that time?
~Sir Walter Scott
~Sir Walter Scott
Tonight's post is dedicated to my Gus. See... Mom, Bob, and I were adopted by a whiny, wriggly lump of puppyness about 12 or 13 years ago. We wanted a dog, and Bob and I were insistent that we get a big breed. The puppy we found was a Shepherd/Rottweiler mix--sure to be a big boy, and with good breeding... at least on his mother's side. She had loose morals, though, and fraternized once to often with the Rottweiler down the street.
I remember 2 specific things about Gus being a puppy. He whined. A lot. And he knew, at his tender, baby age, that he was certain to become an escape artist. Bob and I worked tirelessly to build him a classy kennel. He had a dog house, plenty of room to stretch out, shelter... it was perfect. Our only flaw was that we let him watch us build it. When he saw any weakness in the structure, he stored it away, knowing it would be good for future use.
That smart-dumb dog eventually put his knowledge to use. When put in his kennel, he would take a flying leap and crawl up the 8 foot walls--free to hop down to freedom. When we blocked off that escape route, our Houdini popped the lid off his dog house. Of course that got reattached. He then managed to rip through the chain link fence and squeeze through a hole just big enough. After that was enforced by rebar... Yes... he BENT the rebar. The final attempt at the kennel (to keep him out of doggy jail!) was an electric fence all around the kennel. Sure enough, moments after put inside, one would hear a yip, Yip, YIP! coming from the electrocuted canine, and then a WOOF! of freedom. Needless to say, the kennel has remained empty for several years.
Gus was my helper-dog. I'd work on something outside and shout, "Where's my helper-dog?!" He'd come running! We washed cars, clipped rhodies, weeded, planted, and even ran from the attacking Bald Faced Hornets together. We went for walks on the beach whenever we went to the ocean. We would start with him on his leash (he scared small-dog people) and he'd run out in front of me, every bit my pet dog. As soon as that leash was unclicked, though, he'd fall in line, just behind and to the right of me. I was alpha in our pack of two, and he was sublimely happy to have it that way.
Gus licked all the time. I'm serious... ALL. THE. TIME. He used to have the nickname of Mr. Licky. Then he became Captian Licky... and moved up the ranks. I think that tonight... tonight, the silence will be eerie.
My Gus let us know last night that it was time for him to move on. He was tired of his arthritis. His hair loss. His sore, old body. Today we said goodbye... we shared our last, "I love you's" and "Thank you for being my friend." He got his last belly rub and ear scratch. Tonight he's running and playing again, finding the perfect stick. Meeting up with old friends who've gone on before him. To them and to God, I say... please give my Gusser an extra hug tonight. He couldn't make it here any more, but I'll see him again, every bit the crazy puppy he used to be.
Gus-Gus... I love you. I miss you. I'm so thankful that you're not hurting anymore, but now it's my turn for my heart to hurt for awhile. Despite the insanity that you sometimes brought, you were my good dog, and I'm so thankful and honored to be called your Emmy. Sleep well, Puppy. I'll see you when I get there. Save a walk on the beach for me.