A Good Middle

We are celebrating a pretty major anniversary this week. Five years ago, January and I drove down to Chillicothe — twice — to pick up our faithful canine companion Gus. We couldn’t let the week go by without a sharing a few of our favorite Gus stories.


The earliest, of course, was the actual adoption process. January found an ad for “Teddy,” a tiny little border collie puppy who needed “a family to give him a good middle and end” and she was immediately smitten. Up to that point, I had been pretty adamant that we not get a dog until we got our house situation figured out. One look at those brown eyes, though, and I couldn’t say no. January followed up with the owner and we were presented with an adoption application. Following are a few choice questions for the intense process:

Would you take him out to pee or leave her unattended?
Would you walk him outside of your home?
If you moved to a place that doesn’t take dogs, what would you do?
Will you love him forever?

Really hard hitting stuff. We passed the application process and drove down to pick him up on a Friday night. After two hours of waiting and not a dog in sight, we drove back home crestfallen. We finally got ahold of Teddy’s owner who told us that she fell asleep and forgot to meet us, and could we go back Saturday night? We of course did, and discovered that “Teddy” was being taken care of by a 14 year old girl who kept rescuing puppies from the pound and finding homes for them online. We could have guessed from the application questions, I suppose. We brought him home, gave him the more appropriate name of “Gus” and haven’t regretted it once.

Right from the start, Gus has never been one to let something as ordinary as walls or fences keep him contained. Within the first few months of bringing him home we had to address the challenge of keeping him in our yard. He’s a regular Houdini when it comes to wriggling through loose boards and squeezing under fences. It became a pretty regular thing to get phone calls from numbers I didn’t recognize saying “Hi, I think I have your dog.” It started with the house across the street and continued slowly down the street, getting closer and closer to High Street. We did finally manage to lock down his wandering ways before he made it all the way to High Street, but that just bolstered his determination to push his boundaries in other ways.

ConfrontationConfrontation: The first of many

We gave it a solid effort in that first house — a rental — to keep him contained to the first floor. We didnt put up a gate or anything, but we made it perfectly clear that he wasn’t to go upstairs. There were several occasions, though, where we couldn’t find him for a few minutes. He would always show up again on the first floor, but we were pretty sure he had wandered upstairs and then snuck back down when we called. I do remember one evening, though, when I was upstairs in the bedroom playing some video games. I heard something scuffling in the hallway and as I turned to see what it was, I see this tiny little fluffball notice me. At first he was so excited to see me that he started ambling toward me, waggling his entire back half. It wasn’t until he made it to the bedroom door that he remembered he shouldn’t be up there, and turned to slink away, hoping I would forget the whole thing ever happened.

In the past five years, Gus has gone everywhere with us. When we drove cross country to spend January 2009 in California, Gus came right along. And although he was really good for the drive itself, there was one particular stop along the way that didn’t treat him very well. Day four: Monterey, California. We were all so excited to see the ocean, and after days and days of the likes of Utah, Wyoming, and Nebraska, Gus was the first one in the water.


He ended up drinking about half of the ocean in the 30 minutes we spent on that beach. Now, this is a family blog, so I won’t be too graphic, but let’s just say that wasn’t the last we saw of all of that water, and we dealt with a very sad, very dehydrated puppy for the rest of that evening.

When we found out we were going to be adding a new member to Team Soell, everyone asked how Gus was going to deal with not being our little baby anymore. We insisted that just because we were going to have a baby, that didn’t mean that Gus’ position as trusty canine companion was being eliminated. More than a  year later and not only is Gus still our trusty companion, but he’s Lucy’s trusty companion as well.

From the day we brought Lucy home, Gus has been extremely protective of our little girl. Lucy has learned a handful of words over the past 4-5 months — mama and papa, among others — but the word that she says most frequently is still puppy. In fact, when she’s upset, cranky, or just overly tired, Gus is our go-to guy to cheer her up.

When we picked this guy up five years ago, we promised to give him a good middle and end, but I’m pretty sure that we’re the ones who have gotten most of the “good.” So here’s to the best dog in the world, Augustus Theodore J Junior III, and the next five years.  May it be filled with cats to chase, steaks and table scraps, and children that only try to ride you every-so-often.