Just days ago my dog Gus, my best friend passed away. He was a lovable looking bulldog with a brown spot on his eye and hilarious personality. The moment I saw his face on the Humane Society’s website, nearly eleven years ago, I just knew he was supposed to be in my life. He had been surrendered because his former owners did not have time for him, and he ended up spending too much time in the kennel. When I saw his picture, I immediately sent an email to my husband, who wasn’t even my husband at the time.
I said. “If you help me get this dog it will count as my Birthday, Valentine’s day, Anniversary, and all the other presents for this year! Pretty please?!” I just knew he was supposed to be my dog!
My plea to bust Gus out of the shelter worked! It was the best present my husband has gotten me to this day. I still remember his big butt wiggle when I met him. It’s the same one he reserved only for me until this day. Gus was a character with lots of quirks. He liked me the best and would often show clear disappointment; with a heavy sigh and a huff, when my husband walked through the door without me.
We also called him the ‘fun police’ because, if our other dogs got a little too excited, Gus didn’t like that and would try to subdue them. This was not his best quality, but it was truly him. He was also very cantankerous and did not like to listen all the time. He ran away every chance he could when he was a younger lad. We joked that Gus even had ‘street cred’ considering my husband had to pick him up from the back of a police cruiser after a neighborhood jaunt/jailbreak (depending on who you ask.) many years ago.
When our Labrador Jack was alive, we would try to play catch with them both. But Gus liked to turn it into a football game instead. With full-on headbutting tackles on his brother Jack, who was just trying to catch the ball like a retriever is supposed to do. So, we didn’t let Gus play catch too much and that was fine with him, he liked to chew tennis balls like they were bubble gum anyway.
The word Bubble Gum always made his ears square up and his head tilt to the side. It was my favorite way to take a good picture of him. Gus was a ham that loved the ladies and babies. We would call him LL Cool G. Because ladies love the cool G, much like LL Cool J but in handsome dog form. He just had an “I don’t give a crap” bad boy attitude that had me wrapped around his paw from day one. He was a legend in his own mind and mine too.
We had a bond that I am not able to explain. I have had other dogs that I’ve loved as well but Gus and I were just different somehow. I feel safe saying this because I’ve even joked with my husband “I’m pretty sure Gus and I are in love”. We just ‘got’ each other. There was a connection that was like no other. I feel like we bonded on a soul level.
When he got into trouble, I always had his back, even if I knew he was not innocent. When he wanted his way, I gave it to him because I could, and he was my dog to spoil if I wanted. This was not always good, and my family didn’t always agree with me, but it didn’t stop me. Gus was hard to love sometimes but this only made me love him even more.
He was my best friend and I believe he was sent to me as a gift from the heavens. It certain felt like a blessing to both of us when we came together. There are so many things I will miss about him. From the way he could look at me and I would know exactly what he was asking of me. To the way I could raise my eyebrow at him, and he would know just what I wanted him to do… yet he would take his sweet slow time doing it!
Did you ever have a pet who would look at you with judgment?! Gus would do this too. After eleven years of friendship, we had developed a language all our own. He was so human-like with his expressions, I swear some days he was sending me telepathic communications. Or maybe this type of communication happens after a decade of dedication to each other? I am not sure. But I am certain we were in love.
I know some of you are thinking how can you be in love with a dog? There is nothing weird about it at all. To me being ‘in love’ is just love in action and feeling in your heart. Like when you fall in love with an infant, you just fall head over heels ‘in love’ to your core. It just happened like that with me and Gus. My love never stopped or even once wavered. I made him a priority in my life.
If you know me, you know that I would often say “This is Gus, he’s my best friend.” And I always meant it. During my best days and worst days, Gus was there for me even when even my people friends or family could not be. Gus was always great company.
But, isn’t that what a good dog does? Befriending their humans and burrowing themselves deeply into your heart, so that they will be with you even after they leave? I have lost many dogs in my life and each one of them will always have a spot in my heart until it is no longer beating. My heart is swelling with so much gratitude for the opportunity I had to be his human. Yet the swelling of gratitude is so much, that I literally feel my heart breaking open as the pain of sadness settles in for all I will miss.
I am blessed to have had his love and his company. Being sad and immensely grateful to experience Gus in my life is a bizarre feeling, but it makes so much sense. Gus was getting old, and to be honest, I worried about when and how he would pass for a while now. Death is part of the cycle of life that none of us get to escape.
I just have to say. The blessing of time spent with my best friend Gus is worth the pain of heartbreak. I know it won’t end any time soon, with all the ugly crying, swollen eyes, puffy face, raw running nose, and literal heartache yet to come. I gladly suffer this pain of loss for the blessings he brought to me during our life together. This I know to be true.
I also know that my best friend Gus provided a great deal of joy to myself and others who knew him. Yet “I “ got to be the lucky one to be his momma. I’m going to miss him so hard. I will never get over him because he is part of me. I was blessed to be the one! I am grateful for that. You never know when the Universe sends you gifts like this, but you sure know when they are taken away.
Sending love and a reminder to count your blessings. Time goes by so fast and like molasses; all at the same time.
Hold your loved one’s close today and your fur babies too.
*Photo credit – Franny Buturian-Larson took this picture of Gus during a campaign shoot because, he is adorable.
Wishing you love and blessings,
Emy Minzel ~ Adventure Sister
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Stacy Crep ~ Adventure Sister