Monday, September 10, 2012

In Which the Geezer Falls in Love

Gus — real name is Angus — is my dog and I love him.

Last March, my daughter, Sarah, was thinking of getting a third dog and a second Border Collie.  She found a breeder in far–off Southern Virginia whose pups she admired on the internet.  Early Sunday morning, March 11th, she called and asked if I would drive down with her — 6 hours one way — to see the pups.  It was a gorgeous Spring day and I was happy to go with her.

When we got to the breeder’s home, we were shown the latest litter of Border Collie pups, a large litter of 10.  Sarah fairly quickly settled on one pup and made arrangements to take the pup home.

While Sarah was going about her business, I noticed a pup way off from the others in the fairly small puppy play area.  I thought he was gorgeous, although I didn’t know his gender at the time.  I asked the breeder about him and found out he was a male and the one pup in the litter who almost exactly resembled his daddy, a Grand Champion.  She seemed a little reluctant to show him to me, but she finally did.  The pup would have nothing to do with me.  Outside the puppy play pin, he wanted to play with the older dogs who had free run of the back yard, and that’s what he did.  The breeder corralled him several times for me, and I just fell in love with him on the spot.  The breeder quoted me a price, but again seemed reluctant to part with him.  I bought him and, with Sarah’s pup, we started for home.

By the time we came to the closest town, about half an hour away from the kennel, Sarah’s pup had vomited several times in the car and was showing other signs of severe stress.  We stopped the car, and Sarah — who is a real dog whisperer — tried to calm her pup.  She couldn’t.  After a half hour or so of trying to get the pup to settle down, Sarah decided to return the pup to the kennel.  On the way back to the kennel, my pup also vomited and started to stink to high heaven.  I thought about returning him, too, but decided fairly quickly that I would keep him.  All I had to do was to look in his eyes and I was re–hooked.

On the trip home, it became obvious to Sarah and me that Gus was not used to being with people.  He was extremely wary any time either Sarah or I would try to interact with him.  When we stopped to give him a pee break, he tried to run away.  We cornered him as he hid from us underneath a dumpster and with difficulty got him back into the car.

We got Gus home about 2 am on Monday morning.  He still had a very strong and very vile odor, but I put him in my bedroom with me and went to sleep.

Next morning, I awoke to notice that Gus had made it through the night just fine, and that he didn’t stink quite so much.  I also noticed that he had ripped apart two of my Agatha Christie paperbacks.

I went out and got a wire kennel to put in my room so that he could stay there overnight without decimating my books.  I got a leash, a collar, and a harness and started to walk through town with him.  I took him with me in the car just about everywhere I went.  By day three or four, his vile smell had disappeared.  We have found out since that the smell is a sign of extreme stress.  When I went to Florida in May to get my Mom, Gus had to stay home, the first time he and I had been separated.  His stench returned, but disappeared within an hour of my return home.

In less than a month, Gus was acclimated to life with us.  He grew to love our older Border Collie, Ben’s dog Lucky.  Gus and Lucky would play for hours.  Even at 3 months, he was almost as tall as Lucky, so we knew that soon he would be much bigger than Lucky is.  He passed her in height in June; in weight, in July.  Now, at 8 months of age, he weighs about 50 pounds.  He is very lean and quite strong.  Lucky plays with him much less now that he is larger, but Gus never tires of trying to lure her into a game of chase or tug–of–war.

He has turned out to be the sweetest–natured dog I have ever had.  He loves people — everybody he meets.  He especially loves kids.  He goes crazy with delight whenever my granddaughter comes to visit.  On walks, he always pulls in the direction of kids when he sees them anywhere near us.  When he sees really small kids, tots, he gets down on his belly and approaches them, apparently knowing that the little ones scare easily.  He is amazing.

He loves to be hugged, and his favorite thing is to be kissed on the top of his nose.  When he wants affection, he’ll put his head under my arm and get the rest of his body as close as he can get it to mine.  He’ll stay that way for 10 or 15 minutes, just enjoying the physical closeness.

He talks to me constantly in many different types of barks.  He barks at me if I have the light on reading in bed and it has been on too long to suit him.  He’ll bark at me when he’s mad.  He’ll bark at me in greeting. . .  he is very verbal.

Gus is in a way my best friend.  He comforted me when Mom died.  He was happy with me when I felt silly and started dancing one day.  He loves just to be with me, regardless of how I feel or what I’m doing.  And I sure like having him with me.

That’s the story of my best bud, Gus, or at least the story so far.

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