Malcolm and Gus
I developed my love and veneration for man’s best friend after my second tour overseas. While stationed in southwestern Afghanistan, I had the pleasure of having a K-9 unit attached under my
command to assist my squad in mitigating the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). I was so impressed by the loyalty and devotion these dogs had toward their handlers, it was impossible for me not to have an overwhelming sense of admiration.
Having watched these impressive animals time and time again make safe the ground that lay at our feet as we patrolled the riverbeds, poppy fields, and rustic villages, I made a promise to myself that I too would one day bring into my life a noble companion and share the company of man’s best friend.
Gus was born at a shelter in South Carolina. Like many animal adoption centers down south, this one was overpopulated, underfunded, and underutilized by people interested in owning a dog. The sad truth is, many dogs at these shelters are regularly euthanized because of an inability to find them a suitable home or provide adequate care. And like so many that came and went before Gus, he was scheduled to be put down soon after I met him.
Unknowingly, Gus had been spared due to the efforts of a local shelter on Massachusetts’ North Shore—I stumbled on him after spending three months searching. When I found him, he was five months old and had never experienced life outside a shelter.Not knowing much about dogs—I didn’t even have a real understanding of what I was looking for—I made my way through the kennel, searching for anything that would give me a clue. Funny enough, as I rounded the last corner on my way out, Gus and I locked eyes and he cocked his head sideways as if to say, “Who are you?” Interested in learning more, I asked if he could be brought to the visiting room so I could look him over.
As I sat in the visiting room waiting for Gus, I thought to myself, “He’s awfully big for five months—he’s the size of a full grown Lab. This has to be a mistake.” No sooner had I finished my thought when Gus came bursting into the room and crammed all six of the stuffed animals on the floor into his mouth and brought them over to me. I sat there, stared in amazement, and was instantly overcome with joy. That was when I realized Gus was the one.
Gus is a 4-year-old Anatolian Shepard–Newfoundland mix, and he weighs in at a sturdy 100 pounds. He is as soft and as loving as can be and still behaves like a puppy. He spends his days romping through the woods, swimming in the lake with his buddy Molly, and lounging on his bed with his favorite teddy bear. Every so often I look back and remember the day I met him, the day I saved him—and I realize I couldn’t have found a better friend if I tried… I’m glad I chose to adopt a shelter dog and glad that I didn’t dismiss Gus as a good match for me.