Gus is a two-year-old poodle mix with long legs, tight bleach-white curls, and chestnut-colored eyes. He is the size of dog that can just barely be stuffed into an airline carry-on bag. Gus was rescued from the shelter and talks about how his life before involved some kicks to the ribs.
His person is in her mid-forties, but could easily be assessed as 10 years younger. She is tall and elegant, and rarely seen in any other colors besides pink and green. Gus wears a pink and green collar and has a matching leash. He and his person rent a room in a house that was built in the 1920s. Every time I arrive at their property, I enter through a wrought iron gate and am reminded of Bermuda. Each room has a cathedral ceiling and a door that opens up to a tropical garden of roses, palms, scented flowers, vines, lush grass, and a rock patio.
A few months ago, I was called in to talk to Gus about his running the border of the property barking noisily at people and dogs as they strolled down the sidewalk just outside the fence line. I watched him do laps around the yard, leaping and bounding through the flowers as he yapped and spun with excitement and a sense of duty. When I spoke to him about how upset it made his person and his roommates feel, he listened intently and then asked me if he should bite the gardeners’ heels. Of course I told him no and from that day forward he ceased his barking and only lifted a brow at those passing by.
All was peaceful until Gus’s person went on vacation and boarded him with his groomer. When Gus and his person came back to the house, Gus resumed his old behaviors and seemed to be worse than before. When I asked him about it, he replied, “Why should I listen to her when she doesn’t listen to me? I was contacting her while she was on vacation telling her how horrible it was and she didn’t do anything about it.” His person said it was true. She kept dreaming about him and felt he was unhappy. She apologized to Gus and he leaned up against her gazing up at her with his big chestnut eyes.
“Will you ask Gus why he peed on my roommate’s pillows? They are very expensive and I had to take them to the dry cleaner. Will you tell him that is inappropriate behavior and he must never do that again?” She looked down at Gus with questioning eyes.
Gus replied, “Oh I was just helping our roommate out. First of all they smell like cigar smoke and second of all she wants new ones. I was helping her.”
His person led me to the roommate’s room and knocked on the door. “Laura is here with Gus. Can we smell one of the remaining pillows?”
I held it up to my nose. To me it smelled like cigar smoke. To his person it smelled like more of Gus’s pee. Either way it too was going to the cleaners. I repeated what Gus said to their roommate, and she offered, “I was upset with Gus, but you know what, he is sort of right. I haven’t really wanted new ones, but I have been wanting to dye those pillows yellow.”
“Pee yellow,” we all giggled.
“You see,” Gus chimed in, “I knew our roommate wouldn’t be mad at me for long.”