A Tribute to Gus

by Heather Cole

"if there are no dogs in heaven, when I die, I want to go where they are" (Mark Twain)

Gus Not every champion gets a blue ribbon. Some are champions because of their courage, their valiant strength and loyalty. In that regard, Augustus was a grand champion.

When we were told that our elderly bloodhound Jezebel was too sick to survive much longer, we contacted Sherry Duling of Sherick's Bloodhounds, and purchased this boy from a picture. It was the best money we ever spent. Ironically, when the beautiful pup from Kansas arrived, old Jez was so taken with him that she shoved cancer aside to survive two more years to play with the dashing new man in her life.

When we pulled our "purple boy" from the crate at TF Green airport, we were expecting a puppy, but we got a pony. In no time at all, "Sherick's Augustus Nose it All" grew into a giant dog with a giant heart. Handsome and elegant, he was never silly or foolish, but a dignified dog with a job to do---watch over his family. And for eight all- too- brief years, he did just that. Ever vigilant at the front door, we never felt anything but safe and secure with him in our home.

He loved to sneak up on the bed with his Mom and log a little TV time, sometimes indulging in licking and chewing (gently!) on Mom's toes. Our solo time together is a memory I will always cherish.

He had a love-hate relationship with the late, great Tessie.
He loved her, and so long as he did what she wanted, she wouldn't hate him. Sometimes, Queen Tess would let him reach down and kiss the top of her regal , over-bred, high falutin' head. Later came Judge and Juliet--new friends to playfully bat at as they raced past, patiently enduring their ridiculous "Basset-ness."

He was the neighborhood "werewolf", howling at the moon every Halloween, titillating the trick-or-treaters. I think he was just sending a melodious shout-out to his litter mates, flung in far corners of the globe..."Happy Birthday to you tooooooooo!"

Not that he was perfect... he loved butter, and would steal it off the counter as the opportunity presented. Bananas too, skins, knob and all. Loaves of bread. Apples. Candy. Whatever he could find to eat was ok with him. No squeaker toy stood a chance with Gus--that irritating device would be ripped out of the faux-fur in seconds and spit out on the floor. Ironically, once it stopped squeaking, he lost interest in it.
At two years old, he fought an epic battle with bloat, and after a touch-and-go week, he triumphed. He endured another follow-up surgery a year later, as always, bearing up with strength and dignity. For virtually his whole life, he battled recurrent ear infections--painful, smelly, nasty things. Not once, whether it was any of the many vets we took him to in search of a cure, or with us, did he snap or growl, even though at times the pain must have been terrible.

Never was a dog more loved. He was, and always will be, our "Big Boy". Everything about him was big--his heart, his strength, his courage, and in the end, the hole in my heart and soul that he has left.

Until we meet again, my lifelong guardian. You were (and always will be) my Grand Champion.

Love- your loving Mom

Gus was the "purple boy" out of the Wally and Hope Halloween litter, 10/31/2003