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Gus was born in Idaho on Thursday, Thanksgiving 2017, to the Vom SanftenLoewen DD litter of 10 puppies. His proud parents were Tori and Gully, this was Tori’s last litter, and Gully’s only litter.
Originally Mr Blue Collar, Gus quickly charmed his way into the hearts of everyone who met him with his sweet temperament and roly poly body. His wonderful breeder Mary Ann, sent Christina (Gully’s owner) a photo of Gus at 6 weeks old describing Gus as “the sweetest puppy I’ve bred in 20 years, and built like a brick $hit house!”. It was love at first sight for Christina, and luckily Gus ended up being the pick male of the litter.
When Christina and her husband Greg drove out to Idaho to meet the litter, Gus instantly chose Christina and he snuggled in her arms the whole way home like it was meant to be. Greg suggested Gustov as his call name, after the charming character from the movie The Grand Budapest Hotel, however it was clear the sweet chunky puppy actually resembled GusGus the mouse from the original Cinderella.
Gus came home and fit into the canine family like he’d always been there, just the easiest and happiest puppy. For a while Gus earned the nickname "GusGusNo" as he insisted on carrying shoes and clothes around the house, particularly enjoying bringing dinner guests any dirty laundry he could find. Christina figured out how to shape this into a desirable behavior though, and Gus then spent the rest of his life very proudly bringing everyone their slippers each day. Gus was rarely seen at home without a slipper, shoe, or “gift” of some kind in his mouth. If he felt someone was sad, he brought you every shoe in the house until you smiled. Greg referred to him as the Happy Shoe Salesman. His nickname was eventually changed to "GusGus GoodBoy", which made his tail wag anytime you said it.
Gus’s early training years saw him graduate from every level of Manners and Obedience at Arnicadia Dog Training. He loved and excelled at any working dog event or activity he tried, as long as he was alongside Christina. While Food motivated, Gus was more motivated by praise and love. Gus enjoyed training for AKC Rally, nosework, Water Rescue Work, and obedience. He tried carting but didn’t care for pulling anything, he didn’t see it as necessary. A powerful swimmer and love of retrieving made him a strong candidate for Water Rescue Work, but Christina didn’t like to swim and so they never went on to title in it.
Gus earned his Canine Good Citizen title, and Trick Dog Novice title. He achieved the number of Therapy Dog visits needed for his AKC Therapy Dog Novice title, which is still pending paperwork completion. Christina had planned to do more titles with Gus, but Covid and cancer took that time and opportunities away. Gus spent 3 years in the AKC Conformation show rings along the west coast, always owner-handled by Christina (and a few entertaining times by Greg), where he achieved his AKC Champion title.
Gus’s true working passion in life though was doing Therapy Dog work with Christina. His sweet easy-going temperament made him a natural at following in his father Gully’s paw prints and continuing on the Therapy Dog tradition. Gus passed the Pet Partners Therapy Dog evaluation with the highest level of “complex” rating. Gus and Christina had planned to continue on to train for disaster relief work, but Covid put a stop to all that. They did get to attend one large scale Emergency Drill at Camp Rilea, where Gus excelled at visiting the troops alongside the chaotic battlefield and military vehicles.
Gus and Christina got the news that they’d be allowed to return to Therapy Dog work at Columbia Memorial Hospital and the Cancer Center after Covid restrictions were lifted, but also that same week they received his devastating cancer diagnosis. After much discussion and tears, they decided to let Gus return to Therapy Dog work “for as long as he wanted to”. Gus did his happy dance any time he saw his Therapy Dog vest and gear, he so loved to go “visiting”. A week before Gus passed away, he insisted on doing a Therapy Dog visit…albeit slow and sleepy, Gus loved all the attention and hugs.
Gus was a gentle friend to everyone he met, and confident in every situation at the hospital. He never put a paw wrong, always knowing exactly what to do. Gus especially loved kids, as they always laughed at his antics and shoe gifts. Whenever Greg and Christina’s nieces would visit, Gus made sure he was next to them in everything they did. He loved his beach walks and swim time at the lake with them, and running alongside their bikes. He would happily trade them his toys for anything he could get from their dinner plates, even broccoli. Gus lived for hugs from his beloved people, but especially the nieces. Greg called him "Nana Gus" as Gus was so sweet and caring with the nieces, but also with any new puppy that joined the family. Gus lived to take care of others, it was just what he loved to do.
When Gus’s cancer came back a third time, it was decided to not put him through surgery and chemo again, but rather let him live as happily as possible for whatever quality time we had left together. Gus would have followed Christina to the ends of the earth and back if she asked him to, slipper in his mouth and tail wagging….but Christina promised him no bad days. So Gus spent his last few weeks enjoying his favorite beach walks with his people, playing chuck-it ball with his beloved canine family, eating cheeseburgers in the sunshine, and being as close to Christina as possible. Gus’s last few hours were spent sleeping peacefully in Christina’s arms, right where their journey began.
Christina and Greg would like to thank the wonderful staff at Bayshore Animal Hospital (Warrenton) and the Veterinary Cancer & Surgery Center (Portland) for all of their compassionate care for our beloved Gus.
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