A Piece of My Heart

It is with a heavy heart that I say that Gus, the 12-year old beloved Basenji, passed away last week. I didn’t mention anything about his illness, as we were hoping for more good days and more time with him.

I met Gus about a decade ago when I met Chris (my ex). When Chris and I started sharing our lives together, Gus became my dog, too. When Chris and I split up last year, Gus stayed with Chris. Over the last year, I was lucky enough to get extended “custody” visits while Chris traveled.

Gus suffered from tumors on his spine. They were inoperable and benign. As they grew, they began to effect the movement on one side of his body until it was too difficult for him to get around. Chris made sure he had the very best of treatments. Gus was not in pain.

Here’s what I’ll remember about Gus.

img_1124.JPG Gus was a sweet and funny guy.
nuggle.JPG He and Ike were best friends from the moment they met.

Gus was totally the boss, and Ike was cool with that.

stairs2.JPG Gus and Ike were a great team.

Before Chris and I moved in together, both dogs had huge issues with separation anxiety. Once they had each other, they could hardly care less when the humans left the house.

img_0533.JPG The family grew and changed, and every dog that came into the house knew to respect Gus.
425261160_dc666e767a.jpg Unlike other Basenjis I’ve known, Gus enjoyed quiet time on his own.

While everyone else was crowding in for a spot on my lap, Gus could be found happily chillin’, away from the chaos.

seattle.jpg Gus was a smallish Basenji, and super fast.

It was a nightmare to ever have to catch him when he didn’t want to be caught.

clogs.JPG Gus lived more places than most people. He was born in Texas, then moved to Detroit. Then Chris was transferred to Seattle, where we met. The four of us (Chris, me, Gus, and Ike) were transferred to The Netherlands. Then it was Houston, with extended stays in Austin with me.

He also traveled across the country in a car several times. He was a super good car dog.

img_1932.JPG His official official name was Augustus Africanis, or something very close.

His full name was Gustopher Wayne.

He answered to Gus, Gussy, Gussy Wayne, Baby G – and when he was a puppy, “Dammit Gus!”. (He was a difficult puppy.)

dsc01957.JPG Over the last several years, Gus and Ike have both mellowed-out and become more predictable dogs. No more worrying about someone eating the sofa, ripping up carpet, or hiding a toilet brush in the bed.
img_1689.JPG Basenjis are “barkless”, but Gus was quiet even by Basenji standards. When he was super happy he would wag his tail and make an excited little whine – but he never “barooed”.

I always said that the only time Gus would make a noise is when someone stepped on him, which was pretty accurate.

img_1363.JPG He was both sweet and demanding.

He would gently bite anyone who dared to stop petting him.

img_1650.JPG There are lots of people who are going to miss Gus and his big personality.

Chris and I both miss him very much.

I’d like to end this post on a happy note. This is how I’ll remember him most. Gus had a great sense of humor. While he was truly frightened by a few things – children, thunderstorms, and bouncing balls….there were a few things he pretended to hate for the comedy factor – pepper, chapstick, and spray bottles.

Here’s a little video of Gus reacting to chapstick.

76 comments on “A Piece of My Heart

  1. There’ll always be a little “Gus” hole in your heart, like all the little friends I’ve lost. But he was a cutie – and way too smart for Chapstick!

  2. I lost my beloved Dylan, a border collie one year ago this November 4th. I know how you feel, Gus is so beautiful. May I leave you with this poem that I stole from Lord Byron, and also placed upon Dylan’s final resting spot. I think it holds true for many dogs.
    Near this Spot
    are deposited the Remains of one
    who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
    Strength without Insolence,
    Courage without Ferosity,
    and all the Virtues of Man without his Vices.
    This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery
    if inscribed over human Ashes,
    is but a just tribute to the Memory of

  3. I’m so sorry. It’s awful to lose a friend. I always wish for something to say to help the person feel better, but truth is words can’t. I hope that soon all your thoughts of him will bring you smiles instead of tears.

  4. Everyone who knows me knows how much I absolutely adored Gus. He certainly wasn’t just a dog to me, nor even just “man’s best friend.” He was such a big part of my life for so long that he was more like a son. Lou and I miss him so much. These photos bring back lots of great memories. Thanks, Staci, for putting this together.

  5. Staci, I’m so sorry. Remembering all the wonderful times that you shared, I’m sure that you know more than anyone that without you guys in his life, he might have walked a far different path. Many hugs!!

  6. I’m so sorry to hear about Gus. He couldn’t have asked for a more loving tribute though. He was a very lucky dog for sure.

  7. Hugs to you and the boys, Staci. I echo what so many others have already said: Gus had a wonderful life, and I know he was a very happy doggy.

  8. I am so saddened by this news.
    I can’t quite figure out how we are supposed to get past these losses of our friends and family members that our dogs have become, but I do know that we have given them the best that we could during their time with us and they have given their best back to us many times over. I hope you are comforted by the great memories of your time with him.
    Take care, and know that lots of people that you don’t even know have you in their thoughts and prayers.

  9. Staci (and Chris), I’m so so sorry to hear about Gus. I love this moving tribute you posted for him. What a good and brave little guy.

  10. Aw, no. I’ll miss Gussy. 🙁 I didn’t even have to know him to know he was super cool. He oozed sheer Cool in every picture.

  11. I’m tearing up – I’m so sorry for your loss. His pictures were always my favorites, and I’m sure he’ll be greatly missed. *hugs*

  12. I’m sorry for your loss. Which sounds trite, but really. I’ve been sitting here trying to come up with words than convey what I want to say, but it’s not happening. At least there’s no chapstick in doggie heaven.

  13. I’m so so sorry to hear about Gus’ passing. Losing a family member is never easy but you’ll find much comfort in your memories of him. Take care…

  14. Staci,
    I open your page when I need a basenji fix, laugh & to follow your great photo journal (I wish I was that clever). I always close your page with a smile on my face. Today is different. I am so sorry for your loss, know that Gus is running free with no pains or cares (maybe a posssum or two). Take care.

  15. what a wonderful life Gus had! I’m sorry he’s gone. lucy the jack russell sends your boys big slurpy licks.

  16. We lost one of ours on October 24 (the second loss of 2008) and I can’t help but laugh because Fred was 14 and LOVED to eat Chapstick. And Kleenex. And now we’re left behind with chapped lips and nothing to wipe our eyes with. 🙂
    Say hi to Fred, Gus. She’s the fat little lunchbox bitch with the boy’s name 🙂

  17. Hey Girl,

    I am sitting here right now with tears in my eyes thinking about Gus. He was a stubborn little bugger, but so much fun to have around. Hank and Ike were easy to win over, but Gus was no pushover. I’m so glad I got to have a little time with him so many years ago. He had more influence on Kuma than any other creature. You have no idea how many times his name is mentioned in our house. So much of Kuma’s dominant behavior she learned from him. I think of him everytime I see a Basenji or have to wash the cover on my chair with the Gus head size hole in the side.

    Please let Chris know I’m thinking about him. I know this is hard on both of you. Take care.


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