Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gus and Bella, a love story

Finally, the post you've all been waiting for since I introduced him in a Wordless Wednesday a while back. Today I get to tell you the story of Romeo er, Gus.

Once Upon a Time...

I've mentioned before how lucky we were to find Sheila, our brilliant trainer who is just as good at reading people as she is at reading dogs. We have her to thank for introducing us to our now good friends, Cindy and Rick, and their beautiful dogs, Gus the Borzoi and Molly the Greyhound. We'll meet Molly in another post as she is a new addition to their family and focus first on Gus, Bella's best boyfriend. And really, I kid you not, this is love. (At least on his part, sorry Gus.)

Gus and his hu-folks were taking the same class with Sheila that we had taken previously and she saw something in the dogs that she thought would make them good companions for each other. She asked us if we were interested in bringing Bella by after class sometime for a meet and greet. "Sure!", we thought, "we're always looking for ways to socialize our little girl. This would be fun!"

We were on our way into the classroom when the door opened and this ENORMOUS beast came through it on his way out. Bella spooked, feeling trapped in the little hallway and did her usual less-than-polite "I'm big and scary so stay away from me" routine (read: she barked and growled and lunged then ran away and hid behind my legs.) When the big scary dog lunged and growled back at Bella, we promptly shuffled her into a nearby restroom to regroup.

Of course, the big scary dog was Gus, the dog we were there to meet. So, you know, that went well.

If at first and all that...

Sheila was not disuaded from her original opinion that these dogs were perfect for each other and recommended taking them outside to walk around the parking lot to settle down. That went a little better but on the drive home half an hour later, I have to admit Jan and I were dubious. I'm sure Cindy and Rick were right there with us. However, when Sheila suggested we do it all over again the next week, the crazy canines and their human accomplices showed up on demand.

Subsequent meetings went better and we made plans to meet one night after work at the farm field across from Tufts Small Animal Hospital. A 37-acre agricultural field with a mile+ walking trail around it, we were finally going to let the dogs walk "near" each other. This turned out to be a revelation.

The walk started tentatively, the dogs recognizing each other but able to be in their own space as they acclimated to getting closer and closer. Finally, once we were deep enough into the field to be away from too much other dog interference, Gus was let off leash. (Bella was on a very long lead as she didn't have the recall skills yet to be off-leash in a not fenced area...)

Cue the romantic music

I'll let the pictures speak to what happened next.*

Ok, so it wasn't love at first sight

The most remarkable thing, one that I don't think Bella had comfortably experienced before with another dog, was that when she "yelled" at Gus because she was getting scared, he backed off. He actually listened to the scrawny dog! In fact, he seemed to like having a dog tell him what to do because from that day forward, he followed her around like a lovesick, well, pup.

She seemed to give him a sense of direction. And he seemed to give her a sense of security. (It never hurts to have the biggest, baddest boy in the dog park watching your back!)

A few snarks and grumbles later and, well, again, pictures speak louder than words....

Unfortunately, those halcyon days are behind us after some "bad apples" changed the face of the field (although there are other reasons). And while we were unable to get Bella and Gus together there for over a year, their "love affair" picked up without missing a beat when we were finally able to re-unite the lost lovers this past summer. Bella was immediately more at ease with Gus even after such a separation than she is with any other dog.

And Gus still follows her around ignoring almost all other dogs at the park. He sees her coming the moment we step into the park (well, he IS a sighthound, I suppose) and all else fades from view. He can be in mid-play with another dog but when he sees Bella, the music swells and gorgeous Gus comes running in slow motion, hair blowing in the breeze, to the gate awaiting her arrival. It's like a Fabio commercial. (Ok, the slo-mo might be an exaggeration.)

Gus gave Bella something I am not sure we would have ever been able to offer her: security in the freedom of being off-leash. He is so big and so well-loved at the field, and as a member of his pack, no dog dared push Bella beyond her limits (not without facing the wrath of Gus!)

This love story continues. As for this blog post, alas, I'm afraid it is:

The End.

* (I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures - it was cold, I was freezing, lighting was low and the dogs were fast. Don't fret, though, Gus and Bella will ultimately litter my Wordless Wednesday pages so there will be better pictures to make up for these...)

Thanks to Alfie, Snoopy, Luna and My Brown Newfies for bringing us the Monday Mischief Pet Blog Hop. Make sure you hop on through to the other blogs and see what trouble our various critters can get into over the weekend.


  1. ah, sighthounds, gotta love em. Barbie protects Bender from other dogs at the dog park, but then, she loses interest after a while and goes off sniffing. She can be fickle.

  2. I remember that first intro too! Bella was histrionic and Gus was perplexed. And you four were amazing. They need each other. Gus has someone to watch over and Bella has someone to support her. Gus' goofiness bring out Bella's, while Bella gives Gus structure, as you said. They are both beautiful pups with amazing parents.

  3. Ooooh I've come over all emotional with those pictures of Ali & Ryan... errr I mean Bella & Gus. Hehe! Deccy

  4. >sniff<  That was so nice!  Great photos and great details, thank you so much!  I can almost see Fabio in this somewhere.  And thank you to Sheila for your words and skill (I would never NEVER have let Gus off leash if not for you!).

    -- Gus' hu-mom

  5. Hi Jet!  Sounds like sighthounds might just be really protective of their friends.  I didn't know that. :) 

    I have to admit, Bender looks like he could take care of himself. Funny how looks can be deceiving.

  6. LOL - when isn't Bella "histrionic"?!?   And yeah, Gus really is a bit of a goof, isn't he?  As bad as those pictures are, I absolutely had to include them because he does look so goofy. :)

    Thanks for the kind words about their parents. I think their teacher had a lot to do with making their parents "amazing". ;)

  7. LOL - hi Deccy.  I should have had music playing in the background for today's post, I think. ;)

  8. Thank YOU. For being willing to try again even though Bella, I'm sure appeared vicious on our first meet. Gus has given her something we never could have and it's been wonderful to watch. 

  9. LOL great story! Some girls just do not know how great they have it. Hang in there Gus :)

  10. Oh,don't feel too bad for Gus.  Bella loves him, she's just not prone to "public displays of affection". ;) 

    Besides, when your boyfriend looks like that, it can be a little frustrating that he gets ALL the attention wherever you go together! 

  11. What a wonderful, romantic story! Sigh. We had a dis-similar situation in our prison program. A beautiful brindle girl and a black lab mix had, well, a confrontation - and then another. However, no blood was shed, they work well side by side and the little black lab mix acts ever so much more confident :). Congratulations on the match - so fun "hopping" through finding you with such a super story (and I like the pics - they are "real!"). 

  12. Thank you, Roberta, for the lovely compliment. It means a lot since I had such a difficult time writing this particular story (it was supposed to be LAST Monday's post. :o )

    Watching dogs figure out how to be with each other is so fascinating. Most of the time it's just business as usual but sometimes there's just this really intricate dance they do and I can't get enough of trying to figure out what's going on inside their heads. I'm glad your pups worked out their differences. It's impressive how often dogs (and cats) can sort through things without ever really hurting each other.

  13. What a wonderful love story!! Stay strong Gus!!

  14. What a grand story! Good ol' Gus! Way to go Bella! Buds are a wonderful thing to have :D

    Waggin at ya,

  15. Alfie | Alfie's BlogNovember 23, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    Oh Bella, what a handsome boyfriend you have found! I'm so happy for you *waggy tail*

  16. The photos are absolutely lovely, especially the last 3:)  What a wonderful story, it's great to have a happy ending ... not that it is an ending, more of a beginning.  Your trainer, Shelia, sounds like a gem!  I hope you all have many more get-togethers.  There's nothing like puppy love.

    Thanks for your kind comment on my blog, Leslie:)  Time to do some catching up!

  17. Usually dogs figure out what to do if we humans don't interfere too much. :)

    Loved the pix of Bella with her knight in furry armor.

  18. "Her knight in furry armor"! Bwah! I love it. :)

    Bella is not always good with other dogs. To the uninitiated, she may seem aggressive but she's really afraid. (Check out her body posture in that first set of pictures...) I worry that not all dogs will back off when she "asks" them to. Having Gus around has been a god-send because she doesn't have to "ask" so loudly. (Speak softly and carry a big Gus? ;)

    It's so remarkable to me that, as you say, they figured that out for themselves.

  19. Hee. Gus is well-loved in return. Bella's definitely more aloof but you can see the difference in her demeanor when she's around other dogs alone vs. when Gus arrives so don't feel too sorry for him. ;)

    Thanks for visiting!

  20. Thanks, Roo. Gus is a good boy.  A little goofy.... But we love him.

  21. Oh Alfie, I hope you're not jealous - if you lived closer, we know you'd be a good, protective boyfriend for Bella, too.  ;)

  22. Hi Sue,

    Thanks - I thought the last 3 photos came out ok but I really had a hard time getting action shots of Gus for quite a while.  He moves like the wind (as I'm sure you can relate)!

    Nice to see you out and about. We're all thinking of you...

  23. Such a sweet story! :) It's so amazing to me that dogs can have "chemistry" like that. (Of course, conversely, they can clash like well, Titans.) I'm so glad Bella found such a hunky friend to boost her confidence, and hope they get to spend lots more time together in one-sided bliss. (Poor guy.)

  24. Oh man - I didn't make her sound that bad, did I? Hee. ;)  

    While Bella doesn't "puppy dog" Gus around, she definitely recognizes and loves being with him.  When we had her at Woofstock last month, she was so withdrawn and shut-down until she saw Gus coming across the park.  You really have to see it - she just flourishes whenever he's around. :)

    But yeah, she does well with Gus and his sister, Molly, but the Black Lab that lives behind us?  Well, that's a story for another day. :)

  25. What a wonderful story.  My Brando is reactive to, well, everything.  He's sooo fearful!  Humphrey's agility trainer is going to try to help Brando out in the next few weeks.  I wonder if she has something like this in mind.  She has 9 dogs.  Brando has to at least like one of them, right?! :)  Thanks for sharing, it makes me hopeful.

  26. Aw, I didn't realize Brando was fearful.  Welcome to the scaredy-dog club. It has taken 3 years. lots of reassurance and some medications but Bella finally seems a little more comfortable in her own skin. Having a big, protective buddy has helped.

    We've also had her in numerous classes specifically for reactive/fearful dogs, in fact, right now she's in an agility class for reactive dogs.  It has done wonders for her.

    I wish you success with your trainer - it's great when you find a good one, isn't it?  Let us know how it goes.

  27. what a cute story! i absolutely love it. also, gus is kind of amazing looking. :-)

  28. Thanks.  And yeah, Gus is really spectacular. He sure gets lots of attention where ever we go.  (And people wonder why Bella is bratty to him sometimes? ;)