Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Where the Red Fern Grows

This is typical Gus. GOOFBALL

I don't know if you have ever seen this movie, but its a complete tear jerker. In a nutshell, its about a boy that works really hard to earn money to buy himself a pair of hunting dogs. He is finally able to buy a sibling pair and joyfully goes to get them and begins training them to hunt 'coons!
He's completely dedicated to these pups and they all end up competing in an event to decide who had the best hunting dog in the area. Several different things happen in this hunting competition and the dogs end up winning the coveted title of the best coon hunter. After life settles back down, the boy takes the 2 dogs hunting and ends up running into a mountain lion and the dogs fight the big cat off to protect the boy.
 Needless to say, the male dog takes on the mountain lion and is fatally wounded and ends up dying that same night, despite the care the boy's dad tried to administer. Devastated, the boy buries the beloved male dog and the female that is still living falls into a deep depression and the boy finds the female dead, laying on the male's freshly filled grave. So the boy has to bury his precious little female next to the male. At some point a red fern grows between the two graves of these dogs; it basically pulls the whole movie together since at the beginning of the movie one of the boy's little sisters tells the story of the red fern. As the legend goes, only an angel can plant the seeds of a red fern, which never dies and makes the spot sacred. Where the Red Fern Grows  Uhm, yeah...its SO SAD...but its also a good representation of how loyal and dedicated, and LOVING these dogs were to not only the boy, but to each other. Complete and total devotion. If you haven't experienced this unconditional love from a dog, its a rare and wonderful thing you miss when its gone.

Gerty 'talking' with me

When Rob and I got married my parents still lived in Wyoming and my dear old German Shepherd, Gerty, was still living with them. She had developed a disease that created a film that progressively spread over her eyes and she went blind. She was an amazingly smart dog and her hearing was impeccable. However, something happened in the flash of a fatal moment when a truck, that did not see her, couldn't stop in time as she crossed a road in pursuit of one of our other dogs. When I got that call from my mom I was walking out of Wal-Mart and had to race to my car, where I sobbed in the knowledge of what happened to my sweet dog. Because I've never been without a dog, Rob decided to get me one.
Our first 'Family' Picture
 Since Gerty's death was still so fresh I was absolutely against a German Shepherd. So somehow my husband found out about a litter of Boxers real close to our home! They were only 3 weeks old and SO FREAKING CUTE. Who could resist such a face!? At 5 weeks old, the mother weaned the puppies and we were allowed to take a male home. Augustus the 2nd, lovingly known as Gus, became our first addition. Let me just say that had I known how stubborn he would be with potty training, how sensitive a boxer's bowels are, and how hard it would be to deal with his allergies and anxiety, I probably wouldn't have chosen a Boxer. People would tell me, just give him 4 years and then he'll be an awesome dog! GOOD GRIEF, SERIOUSLY!? WOW. He almost met his Maker the day that he marked my entire living room while I was 7 months pregnant...BAD.IDEA. I called Rob OUT of court in a fury, saying that I was looking for a Boxer rescue because I was about to lay this dog out. Gus wasn't neutered so that's what I will blame it on. Everyone told us that we shouldn't clip him until he was at least 2 years old so that he could reach his 'maximum potential' in size. I don't know if that is true or that point I didn't even care. Life or nuts, Gus? I bet you want to live...soooo he was clipped 24 HOURS later and put on a 6 week probation period. One sideways look and he was vetoed.

Natty and Gus
Natty lovin on Gus
Nataleigh was 11 months old and learning to pull herself up on furniture and various particular day I was working in our office and since Gus was NOT allowed to be anywhere without me, he was banished to his bed beside my desk. Natty crawled over to him and he began to lick her face and realized that I was giving him the evil eye and he immediately stopped and just let her pat his head and jabber at him. He knew he was walking a thin line with me. That's when he sat up to stretch and Natty decided that she too, needed to stretch and she grabbed hold of a full fist of skin on his lip and neck. This dog did not blink and he didn't dare move. I saw his body wince, as her little Wolverine fingernails dug into his sensitive lip, but his eyes did not leave mine.

It was a look of, "I swear to God, She totally started this. I didn't do anything. I am barely breathing because I don't want to be in trouble." Natty decided a stroll sounded like a fun plan and began to step forward. Gus cut his 6 week trial period short when, at her cue, Gus took a step, ever so short so she would not fall. For a few moments I was able to see that this dog would stay and I'd just have to deal with his irritating quirks.

 This dog NEVER held a grudge...and he had his fair share of being in the 'doghouse.'

I said above that Boxers have extremely sensitive digestive and intestinal tracts. THIS IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT. This dog was unable to even smell table scraps without barfing or having raging diarrhea. It was a little ridiculous at times. We chose to 'kennel train' Gus when he was a puppy. This means that whenever we aren't with him he's in his kennel or crate. And it wasn't like we put him in a closet and closed the door so he was in the dark, but if we were cleaning or were going to watch a movie in bed, Gus went into his kennel...which was eventually left open and we'd be able to tell him to 'kennel up' and he'd just go get in there.
Gus lovin his boy in the sunshine.
We got him a super cushy bed and spoiled him with toys and chewies (that was also a fun experience...let me rephrase: chewy toys that weren't ingested). Crates aren't exactly decorative items, nor are they a size that you can put in a space without having to rearrange. Gus wasn't a big puppy, but he wasn't exactly a small dog either and so we just got a big crate because we knew it was pointless and expensive to gradually get new crates. Ironically his crate became a place we'd find him when he had had enough of the noisy kids or was tired. I always laughed when I would realize I hadn't seen the dog in awhile and I'd find him snuggled up on his favorite toy on his bed in his crate. My parents never did this, so kennel training a dog was a very different idea and one that I wasn't sure about until it became very convenient when company came or when we had to leave to go grocery shopping.

Boxers are extremely hyper and prone to severe anxiety. Gus had both issues. He would get so worked up that he would throw up occasionally. We would sit and laugh at him in the back yard because he would get so excited that he'd run all the way around the yard and zigzag and just be crazy for several minutes. We'd call it 'the speeds.' The louder we laughed, the faster he'd go. He was also a HUGE chicken. I'm so not kidding. When I had Natty he was still pretty young and was kinda weird anyway so it wasn't until we had Isannah and brought home all the balloons that we realized why he was such a freak! HE WAS TERRIFIED OF BALLOONS! It was hilarious because the first week we had Isannah home he would NOT go into their room? Finally we took the balloons out and sucked the remaining helium out and noticed Gus slink around the door and check everything out. It was so much fun to startle him because he'd jump and race around the corner like someone was coming after him with a knife. In true Boxer form he LOVED to 'box' with us. I'd try to 'step' on his feet and eventually it'd end up with him playing like he was going to bite my foot off. He LOVED to play.

Going back to crates and not having a spot that was very convenient at the time. Alright, so our basement wasn't finished for a few years when we moved in. Gus' crate was down there by one of the windows and I had hung a lace type pannel so that it wouldn't be so easy to see in and well, it was cheap and worked for the time. Being a bored puppy, Gus thought the lace looked like a chew toy too. He had managed to work it through the openings of his crate and somehow bit off a rather large piece and ate it. When we had come home I noticed that my curtain was ripped up but being lace, I didn't realize he had actually gotten some down. This little piece of lace caused MASSIVE issues. Such as puking blood and a small rupture of sorts in his small intestine. GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY. Let me just say that while we love our pets, I grew up knowing that it was just a dog and if a surgery meant more than $200 we were getting a new dog. Hey, you don't have to agree, but thats how I was raised; and yes...I totally agree. The vet told me that Gus would be fine, but I had to give him medicine and I had to feed him turkey and rice since these were easy on any gut, especially a boxer's. GROSS. Gus enjoyed it but I also had the added privilege of watching him poop for 3 weeks so that in the event that he had blood in his stool I could rush him back to the vet.  Sorry to be graphic, but I was doing dishes and had decided that Gus could poop in the backyard by himself that day and I was going to do dishes and just keep an eye on him. While he's in the pooping stance, I notice that he is not pooping out something 'normal' and I am obviously worried since this abnormal poop seems to resemble part of his intestine. I book it outback and leave my girls inside to decide how I was going to take 2 babies and a bleeding dog to the vet. Yeah, I'm actually crying at the thought that my dog is going to have to be put down...until I realize that he had just passed MY CURTAIN. I WAS SO MAD!!!!!! Here I am crying and he's pooping out my curtain. Thats just great. After that his crate was moved to the middle of the room. LOL

I have a lot of stories like this about Gus. LOL He was a good dog. He loved us so completely, despite his flaws. He got into so many situations that sometimes I wondered "WHY ME?" UGH...

Boxers are a breed that is commonly stolen! We were walking him around the block one time and a couple stopped their car in the street and ran up to us calling out to Gus in a completely desperate and different name. Boxers can be very friendly dogs and ours was about as friendly as they come if no threat is there. Laying down on the ground shaking in excitement that someone was gushing over him, Gus welcomed these strangers and acted like he'd died and gone to Heaven. These people actually told us that Gus was their dog and they had been searching for him in our area because thats where they had supposedly lost their Boxer pup!? The FREAKING AUDACITY OF THESE PEOPLE WAS AMAZING!?!? I was FURIOUS. And they pointed out how he obviously had missed them by his behavior. OH.MY.GOSH. My eyes about shot out of my head and Rob had to hold me back and told me to be quiet before I even uttered a word. On the other hand, now that I think about it, what an elaborate way to blatantly steal a dog right out from under the owner!? I was shaking in rage.

Over the last year Gus began to age pretty quick. It was hard to hear him whine when he went down our stairs because of his legs having arthritis in them. His puking became very frequent and he even had several seizures. All of these things are quite normal with a boxer and only progressively get worse as they age. I think the seizures were the hardest to watch. Knowing there really isn't anything you can do and medication only prolongs the inevitable. The worst was seeing the effects of old age as he lost control of his bladder. Poor guy, didn't even know he was peeing until he felt something on his leg or heard it. On November 20th, our beloved old boy had to be laid to rest. That morning he was under my feet constantly. I feel bad for yelling at him but I had almost dropped the baby and fallen down the stairs. It was around lunch when I hear Duncan yell, "Moooom....Gus puked all over the basement!?" UGH I thought, I had just cleaned up 8 piles of puke the day before when we came home from grocery shopping and instead of puking on the tile or hardwood floor, he targeted my carpet...again...which meant lugging my huge carpet cleaner up and down again. Then I hear, "Nevermind, its just pee!" UGH!? SERIOUSLY!? Josh is army crawling around and we just dealt with MRSA, I'm a little paranoid about bacteria right now, and theres yet another mess for me to clean up and one that I can't really 'leave for later' you know? I went down to check it out and sure enough, its EVERYWHERE. I walked over to his bed and realized it was soaked. While our poochie isn't the brightest crayon in the box, he has NEVER EVER peed on his bed. The sad and harsh reality that it was time hit me and I just started crying. No matter how much I hated cleaning up all the puke and all the poop and all the other messes, Gus was still my dog and I did love him. It was heart wrenching and I knew it'd be hard for my kids to accept.
The last few weeks we had been talking about how Gus was getting sick because he was peeing all over the back porch and sometimes in the living room. And how his puking had suddenly increased A LOT. So they knew that something wasn't right and they had all been witness to many seizures in the past. But this was different and I knew it was time.
Saying Goodbye 
We all took time in saying good bye and special hugs. I'm thankful that the Lord blessed us with such a great dog, no matter how dingy he was...
An angel certainly planted a very special Red Fern seed in Gus' heart...and we loved him because he loved us so very well. 


  1. Hey Robyn!! I am trying to get your address and realized that I don't have your email or address or any way of reaching you now that you are not on facebook. Can you email me your info? My email is Hope to hear from you soon!! Love the dog pictures. You guys have such a beautiful family!

    1. Thank you!!! It was very therapeutic to blog about Gus. He was such a twit, but a very very good dog...even with all the messes. I'm so excited that you contacted me and I hope to stay in touch!