My Father’s Dog

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Gus – Black Lab/Golden Retriever Mix – If found, please call 410-778-1536 or443-480-3377 –  Missing since May 31, 2017 

In 2010 my parents bought a puppy and I was angry. I was freshly graduated from Wheaton College and had been volunteering at an animal shelter in Massachusetts for the duration of my time there. I didn’t even want to meet the puppy, having seen over the years so many adoptable shelter dogs passed over. This puppy was a black lab and golden retriever mix, and he became the immediate companion of my brother Ben, who was in middle school at the time. Being ten years younger than me, and eight years younger than our sister Marva, Ben was in need of a friend at home. He named the puppy Gus.

It was a few weeks before I met Gus, and upon meeting him I tried to remind myself that it wasn’t his fault that he wasn’t a shelter dog. I patted him on the head and held onto my convictions. Maybe my parents would get a shelter dog the next go-round. Even I had to admit that he was a perfect dog: sweet, handsome and incredibly gentle. Ben loved his new dog. Predictably, Gus became the perfect addition to our family.

Over the years Gus grew to a substantial ninety pounds. He wasn’t overweight, and farm life agreed with him. He loved to spend his days roaming all over the farm; swimming in the creek, napping underneath the apple tree, chasing squirrels all over the place to his heart’s delight. My parents live in Quaker Neck, on the small thirty-acre farm which my grandparents purchased in 1964.  Essentially, it is dog heaven. Spending so much time on a farm has its downsides though, as Gus contracted a tick-borne disease known as “Ehrlichiosis”. We took him to the vet because he was so lethargic and were told that he would always be this way. He was up to date on his flea and tick medication, but sometimes that’s just no match for an Eastern Shore summer.

Whether as a result of his disease or whether he was just an intuitive creature in the first place, Gus began to spend all of his time with my father. My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2006 and has since retired from his career as a marina manager in Rock Hall. As Dad’s symptoms progressed, Gus was there. He wanted to be everywhere Dad was: if he heard Dad’s truck, he came running. If he heard the boat start, he came running and jumped on board. If you visited us and saw Dad driving around the farm in his golf cart, you can bet that Gus would be sitting in the passenger seat. His devotion to my father was complete.

It brought me great comfort to know that if Dad fell, or had some kind of accident, Gus would be there and might be able to let someone else know. I grew up as many little girls do, idolizing their fathers and thinking, “Dad can do anything. Dad can fix anything. Dad is Superman! Dad can never get hurt.” As an adult, it has been very hard to witness the evidence to the contrary. I’m sure that I’m wrong, but to me it feels like no one has ever loved her father as much as I love mine. And now his dog, our dog, is missing.

Gus wandered out of the house sometime in the morning of Wednesday, May 31st and we haven’t been able to find him since. The “missing dog” posters have gone into every mailbox in Quaker Neck, Pomona, Cliffs City, and Broad Neck as well as others. The local media have graciously published small pieces about him. A $500 reward has been offered for his return. “Dogs Finding Dogs” have come out to the farm and sniffed around for him. The surrounding animal shelters and vets have been alerted. Thousands of people have shared our posts on social media. He has been listed on every “lost dog” group that we can find. My parents have even sought a consultation with a psychic recommended by a friend in order to help get him back. The neighbors have all been going above and beyond to help, combing their own properties, helping print and distribute fliers. A police report has been filed and the sheriff’s office has been doing what they can to help locate him. Dad has been driving around in his boat calling his name, hoping that Gus would hear the boat and try to come home.

At this point, it’s been over a month. If he is dead, I can’t help but think that we would have found him by now.  Gus is wonderfully social and loves everyone, making us believe he would be with people. If you are reading this and you picked him up, please bring him home. Perhaps you thought that you were picking up a sweet stray. Perhaps you thought that my parents weren’t good dog owners for letting him wander. Perhaps you wanted a dog for your own family. Whatever the reason, please do the right thing and bring him home to us.  We don’t just miss him; we need him.

Anyone with information about Gus or his whereabouts should contact the Kent County Sheriff’s Office at 410-778-2279, local animal control or my parents at 443-480-3377/410-778-1536. Gus is an unaltered, ninety-pound Black Lab and Golden Retriever mix. He is sorely missed. Please help us.

Tess Hogans, Chestertown

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Letters to Editor

  1. Deirdre LaMotte says:

    Tess, this is a wonderful piece. Gus is not only a lovely dog but a member of your family. Just know people are determined to find dear Gus!

  2. Judy Lalingo says:

    This is such a beautiful essay – wishing you the very best of luck finding him safe & sound. I’ve shared it on Facebook, in the hope that Gus will be found.

  3. Daniel Menefee says:

    They use blood hounds to find dogs too, not just people. Maybe it’s worth a shot? Do you have something around with Gus’ scent on it?
    I have a 95-pound Black Lab at my feet right not, Magee is his name. I couldn’t imagine not knowing his whereabouts. I’m really sorry for your ordeal.
    Dan Menefee

  4. Ann Miller says:

    I hope this family finds their family pet, the not knowing much be horrible…however it is a cautionary tale for the rest of us to remember to both spay/neuter our dogs, and microchip them.

  5. This makes me so sad. As I recall Quaker Neck has a lot of open land where a scared dog could hide. I recently heard of an escaped horse that was located using a heat sensing drone. If your dog is living in the wild this might help locate him.

  6. Cindy Stoffolano says:

    I hope you find your baby I can’t even imagine what you are going through all my prayers and best wishes are with you and your family

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