Four years ago, on a cold Christmas Eve, this little dude was picked up by the police as he was walking down a busy road. It’s a miracle they even noticed him as he weighed all of 2 pounds! He had pneumonia and no owner that came looking so the shelter manager took him home to nurse him back to health. It wasn’t going so well. He refused to eat. She called me to see if I’d be willing to give him a try. What trouble could a 2 pound Chihuahua be?
Little Lord HumunGus was not trouble. He was adorable. He was also untouchable. Once he recovered from his illness, his grumpiness came out. DO NOT TOUCH ME. He was a perfect pack dog. Never got run over by the big dogs. Did everything asked. Took treats from hand as gentle as can be. DO NOT TOUCH ME. He appreciated various dog beds and blankets. When not sure if he was in from the yard, I would ask a blanket lump, “Gus, that you?” and would be met with a snarly warning growl. DO NOT TOUCH ME.
He ADORED all his girls. He especially adored old Dixxy Blu. Ages of these rescued animals are always as best an educated guess but still always a guess. We know both were very old. Didn’t stop them from romancing, though! Well… Gus may have thought they were romancing. We don’t even think Dixxy was ever aware he was humping her. But hump her he did. ALL THE TIME. Had to admire the little dude.
We simply let Gus be Gus. It wasn’t easy. Touching him in any way not only risked our own flesh but put him in danger. He’d freak out so bad, snarling, gnashing and trying to get away, he could get hurt. DO NOT TOUCH ME. When he did have to be touched for some reason, a bath for example, thick gloves or a big towel would be used. I learned how to apply the tiniest of muzzles to his adorable face. We’d get done what needed to be done, then he’d be left to his own, as that was all he wanted.
He wasn’t on our radar to be the one we’d be losing. Over the summer he had a dental and all his lab work showed an amazingly healthy old-timer. On Saturday we heard him scream and found him standing under the chair. No one else was even around. I grabbed a towel to pick him up and he felt limp and wasn’t even trying to bite me. This was the beginning of the end for our adorable, grumpy Gus. After the initial scream, he began circling to the right. This went on for 5 days. The only way to stop him circling was to hold him swaddled in a towel like a baby. DO NOT TOUCH ME.Dr. Campbell, Scottie and I tried everything to give him relief and a chance to come out of this. We hoped it was simply a wrenched neck or back. We feared it was a brain lesion. Gus was fighting and trying, too. It was terrible, yet kinda nice that the only way to keep him from circling was to hold him. Though he hated being touched, when wrapped in the towel he would fall fast asleep, even snoring. We were able to touch and even kiss him in these moments. We held him, day and night, nearly 4 full days.
Not being able to fix what’s wrong with one of our babies is frustrating and heartbreaking. But there was no fixing this. No way to make it better. We let him go. We told him he will always be our favorite grumpy, horny old man. I’m figuring he’s already found his favorite gal, Dixxy.
“You see there once was a boy and on the street he’d surely die. So the Nighbird took him in and taught him how to Fly.”
(from the song “Nightbird” by Eva Cassidy)