My grief and love is still strong. Those that don’t have a pet that is family will never truly understand. I can’t imagine any other way to celebrate international dog day than to pay tribute to our Gus pup. Our dog Gus was 7 years old this January. We brought him home in March of 2013 in the frigid cold snap. As a puppy when the snow melted I thought for sure we would have to carry around crushed ice for him to pee on, but he figured it out. He came everywhere and did everything with us, fishing, camping, trips, weekend travelling, friends houses. If Gus couldn’t come we practically refused to go.
He was our buddy. Gus had a particular affinity to me, we were just sort of ‘in tune’ with one another. When I was pregnant with Em I practically didn’t need a pregnancy test. Gus knew. He also just knew when I was pregnant with D.
Gus was a part of everything we did as a family. Short of taking him on a plane, we all did everything together.
With my detection of a lump on Nov 19 my stress levels rightfully increased. I can ‘handle’ it but it didn’t not impact me. We started to notice some changes in Gus. Our Gus pup has had some anxiety before so when we popped to the vet Dec 3 we swapped his food and everything seemed fine.
More tests and initial confirmation came for me Dec 13. Not long later we decided the stress on me was upsetting Gus so we started him on his usual anti-anxiety Zylkene. We stuck with this for a while but Gus looked like he was losing weight. Going to the bathroom more frequently and drinking more water. So I assumed we’d be dealing with some diabetes. Took a urine sample to the vet.
January 3 we went for blood work. We knew it wasn’t diabetes but what was it? Apparently Gus had his own cancer. A massive abdominal tumor was found. It was the size of a football. We weren’t given any particular time lines, but given there was nothing except a slight bit of swelling on his back left knee on Dec 3 we knew it likely wouldn’t be long. I sobbed. I was a mess. There was nothing we could do except love him more fiercely than before.
So for his birthday he ate a hamburger. And a hot dog. And whatever else he wanted. We picked up a pizza for supper since that is his favorite. He didn’t want the crust, but he did eat the pepperoni. He was a polite puppy and took from me anything I offered him, even if he just set it down and didn’t eat it. From then on we made sure Gus wasn’t alone. The last thing I wanted was for him to be alone during he last days. He slept in our room, or we slept with him downstairs on the couch.
I had my first treatment January 7, and a hard week of symptoms ensued. Gus was there. He was my buddy like always, laying with me, comforting me and being the best, most loyal dog that he has always been. Rob spent a few nights with him downstairs while I recovered. Friday my good friend came over and did portraits of Gus. Saturday my Aunty Sue came over and gave him a special blanket.
Sunday we went to my parents place. Gus came with and when everyone left for my cousin’s baby shower (sad I missed it but into low counts I just can’t do crowds!) we hung out and watched some Avatar. Then he had it. A scary moment. Mom and Dad came home and Gus slipped going to see them. I knew then we were on borrowed time.
I was finally feeling well enough to sleep with him downstairs that night. He looked at me in the wee hours of the morning and I could see he was tired. He was fighting to be here for me, to be my buddy and my support during my time of need. But he was tired. We cuddled through the night and I made plans for Monday, his last day with us.
The kids and I went to the pet store to pick out special treats for him, I organized for my sister to come and do some photos, I had a paw inking kit a friend so thoughtfully purchased for us. I confirmed with the vet and we set about our not-so-perfect perfect last day. We laughed, we gave him treats, we cried.
All together. Like we always are. We said good bye to our good boy Gus. Our puppy that took a Trick Dog class with Em and passed as a Novice Junior Trick Dog Team. He was ready for us to let him go, but he would have fought to stay with us for countless days if we had let him. I got to hold my Gus pup as he settled into sleep, and finally went to wait at the Rainbow Bridge for all of us.
My Gus pup, you will forever be in my heart (or “Gus is in my heart and tummy” as D says).