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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Gus

Gus
Oil on canvas, 12x12.

I've made a number of these minimalist paintings of dogs and cats, and I have to say that I love them all, and this one in particular.

This is Gus, or Auguste Corleone Jacobson, my first dog as an adult. Before we knew about pet stores and puppy mills, before we understood about shelters and rescue groups, Peter and I went to a pet store and he bought Gus for me.

I'd never do that again - but I never regretted it, either. I loved Gus from the moment I saw him. He was as full of life and personality as any dog ever. We brought him home, and he raced around the house, faster and faster, barking at Najim, our Pekingese, and playing, and running and sliding on the floor, and then, all of a sudden, he collapsed, flopped right down, all four legs splayed, and dear God, I thought he was dead.

But no, that was just Gus.

He lived to be 16, and they were 16 fine years. He went fishing and camping and hiking with us in Idaho and Montana and Canada. He helped Najim recover from back surgery, finding a way to play that could engage Najim even during the weeks that he was paralyzed. When Najy was better, he and Gus would fight, on occasion, with a fury of barking and snarling and gnashing of teeth, and never any bloodshed or actual biting. Well, Peter and I were bitten a couple of times, wresting the tiny titans apart.

In Maine, the boys got to peeing around the house, marking territory, so we put them in crates when we couldn't watch them. The crates were side by side, and after a while we realized that they were peeing on each other through the sides of the crates. Nice.

I still miss Gus. He loved to snuggle, loved to ride in the car, loved to go places and meet people. Our rescue bichon, Woodreau, is terrified of everything. He doesn't like any of that stuff. But he is a nice little dog, and I love him dearly, and he desperately needed to be rescued.

But he is no Gus. And really, truly, he shouldn't be.

4 comments:

patrice said...

Fabulous - This one is special - and knowing the story makes me love it even more.

Art with Liz said...

Some of us have a special dog as a soul mate and Gus obviously was yours! A really wonderful painting Carrie.

Carrie Jacobson said...

Thanks so much, Patrice. Gus really was a wonderful dog, funny and bright and outgoing and stubborn. For years, when we lived in Idaho, we had only one car. I worked the nightside news desk at the paper there, and Peter would bring Gus to come pick me up when work was finished.

There was a pipe that stuck up at the end of a sidewalk along the parking lot, and Gus thought it was - what? we never knew - and barked madly at it, night after night. Of course, we encouraged this. He got so angry at this pipe, it was just as funny as could be.

One night we let him out so he could see the pipe. He saw it, sniffed around it, peed on it, got back in the car and started barking wildly at it again. Sheesh.

He also hated cows. Hated them. One day we were driving across an open range in Idaho, and about a dozen black Angus converged on the car. They were huge, and mean-looking, bigger than the little car - and Gus, of course, started barking like a nut at them. I still feel lucky that we got away.

Carrie Jacobson said...

Hi, Liz - Thank you so much for this note. Gus was indeed my soulmate. When we lived in Idaho, we had a breakfast counter, and I would sit up on a high stool and put my feet up on another, and sit at that counter and read for hours - and all Gus wanted was to be on my legs. We jogged together for years, and whenever Gus had had enough, he would just put his little butt down and sit, and we would rest until he was ready to go again. He was a dear, funny dog and I still miss him