You all know Gus, right?
Yes, THAT Gus. Gus the Beagle-Basset. In case you don’t, let me tell you more about him.
Gus has a few problems. When we got him at 6 months, he was overweight and had almost no training (including house-training…that was fun). He didn’t make eye contact with people. He had separation anxiety and would howl in the most heart-breaking way when we left the house. He had to be fed in a separate room from Madeline and confined until she was finished eating, or else he would attack her and steal her food.
Unlike Madeline, who is a very bright dog and a quick learner, Gus was (and is) very slow to learn new things. It took him a long time to learn not to pee in the house. It took him a long time to learn a routine that would allow him to eat in the same room as Madeline without incident.
It took him a long time to learn that, when we left the house, we were coming back.
I don’t know just why Gus is, to put it charitably, a bit slow. Probably a combination of poor maternal nutrition, early puppyhood neglect, and maybe a few kicks to the head. Because he’s a rescue dog we don’t have any way of finding out. But I do know that, even though it took a while and he’ll always have some issues (he still needs to follow a food routine and he’ll always be a bit chubby), he’s become a wonderful, loving, fun dog. And I wouldn’t trade him in for the smartest Bagel Hound in the world.
Mostly because I already have the smartest Bagel Hound in the world.
So what’s the PSA? Did I write this just to wax sentimental about my slightly developmentally delayed dog, or do I have a point?
It’s this: It’s spring. I’ve been seeing lots of new puppies in the dog parks. And if you’re thinking of getting one – maybe you promised your kids that if they do well on their last report cards they get a puppy, or maybe you’re taking up running and want a dog to go with you, or maybe you just want a dog – don’t go to a breeder and get a $2000 puppy. Go to Petfinder or your local shelter and get a Gus.
Sure, there will probably be issues. But you can work through them – we did with Gus – and there will be issues with any dog you get. And at least when you get a Gus you know you’ve saved a living creature from a painful life and a pointless death.