Gus came into our lives in the summer of 2013. He had been found on the side of the road, weak, dehydrated, and in obvious pain. CDRO took him into care and put a call out for a foster home for him. We were fortunate enough to be chosen to take Gus in. I was shocked at his condition. His back end was weak, and he was barely able to walk. It was apparent that he’d had a spinal injury that had been left untreated for years. His mouth was infected, his teeth were rotten and he was in obvious pain. Our hearts went out to him – we couldn’t imagine what he had been through. We fell in love with him instantly. From the moment he was handed to me and he kissed my nose, I was smitten. I knew we would do whatever we could to help him find a better life.
With CDRO’s support, we nursed Gus through 3 surgeries in total. We were amazed at his strength and resiliency, and we fell more in love with his courage and spirit every day. Although he came through each surgery well, due to his ongoing medical issues Gus became a CDRO sanctuary dog, and we became his sanctuary home. With the support of CDRO, we would take care of Gus for remainder of his life. We didn’t know just how short that time would be.
We have some amazingly happy memories of Gus. He wore a sweater every day – we called it his “old man sweater” – and a bow tie on his collar. It was his signature look, and he ROCKED it! He LOVED to eat. He had no teeth, but that didn’t stop him. He could hardly see the food in his bowl, but that didn’t stop him either. He ate with such enthusiasm! He somehow knew when I was getting his breakfast ready, and was always by my feet. He would lurch into the food bowl and eagerly down his breakfast, pushing half his food out of the bowl in his excitement. There were always remnants of his food on his bow tie. He also loved to sleep. We have so many pictures of him sleeping peacefully. That’s when I knew without a doubt he was free from pain, and that made us so happy. He totally loved to cuddle. Even though it was hard for him to get comfortable sometimes, he would keep trying till he found just that perfect spot next to us, and he would sleep for hours. He loved to give kisses. Although his kisses sometimes felt like he was trying to gum my nose off. But most of all, Gus loved the sunshine and warmth of summer. He would go outside and find a patch of light, and roll around in the grass. And then he would lie there, and enjoy the heat from the sun. In those moments, he knew joy. Absolute, pure bliss. You could see it on his face. Those are the moments that I will never forget.
Unfortunately no amount of love or care could combat the years of neglect. By December, when the colder weather came, we could visibly see the impact it was having on Gus’ health. He was deteriorating before our eyes, and so we made the difficult decision to let him go. I was with him when he crossed over to the bridge. I held him and let him know how much we loved him, and that he was not alone. He drifted away peacefully in my arms. I’m so grateful to CDRO for supporting Gus through the last few months of his life, and for allowing me the privilege of being Gus’ foster mom. We miss him more than I can say.
Gus Man came home to us afterwards, where he belongs. Next to his remains are his collar and his bow tie, which I’m pretty sure still shows evidence of his breakfast. It never fails to bring a smile to my face.
Gus spent a total of 4 1/2 months with us. I can only hope that they were the best 4 1/2 months of his life. I know that they were some of the best of ours.