How My Dog Changed My Life emily Mahaney

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” - Josh Billings

When I was a senior in high school I decided I wanted to get a dog. I told my parents I wanted a dog on Wednesday and by Saturday afternoon I brought home the puppy that I had always wanted. Augustus, or Gus for short, was a beabull bull, which is a cross breed of an English bulldog and a beagle.

Immediately Gus and I became best friends and we began to do everything together. I spoiled him like no dog has ever been spoiled before. I loved to take Gus on ice cream dates at a local ice cream shop that offered free ice cream for dogs. I bought Gus toy after toy for him to play with, and I would give him all the human food he wanted. I sat on the floor with Gus every chance I got and I slept with him every night. I also got Gus a ramp to use to climb up onto my bed, seeing as his legs were too short to jump and he was too heavy for me to lift.

Gus on my bed after using his ramp

Gus was a pampered dog, who received a lot of love, but he also gave a lot of love. Gus used to cuddle up next to anyone who was sitting on the ground or anyone who sat on the couch. He liked to lick people’s faces and give kisses any time he had the opportunity. He knew when I did not feel well, and used to sit with my when I was sick, attempting to make me feel better. He would nuzzle up next to me when I would cry. His presence alone would be enough to make me feel better. Gus would cry when I left to go places, and my mom told me that he would pout when I was gone. He loved me just as a much as I loved him, and I could feel the love he had for me through his loyalty to me.

Every person who had the pleasure of being around Gus, dog person or not, fell in love with him. He was just this little, fat, furball full of energy and love. He loved people and he loved to meet other dogs. He had a way of making everyone smile, especially me. I know it sounds cheesy but Gus was my baby. He could cheer me up when no one else could and he could make me laugh. He was my best friend.

Mowgli, Gus, and Bailey

Augustus died on February 7th, 2015. I came home from class one day and I found Augustus on the train tracks beside my house. Gus most likely died immediately from the impact of the train, and he looked exactly how one would imagine a dog would look after he was struck by such a large, forceful moving vehicle. It took twenty minutes for someone from my family to come home and help me, and I was uncontrollably hysterical from finding my dog this way.

Gus was left outside the morning he died because my parents knew I would be home shortly. Sometime during the hour he was left outside by himself, Gus broke through his electric fence. No one is sure if his collar stopped working, or how he broke through, but he did. The image of finding him that way will never leave my head. After his death, I had nightmares and night terrors for several months. I couldn't shut my eyes without seeing what I saw that day. I couldn't help the tears that flowed while wrestled with my own PTSD. For a while, I thought the pain and the grief of his loss would leave me feeling empty and shattered forever. I experienced a traumatic event that day and the grief from his accident consumed me and everyone around me for a long time. Eventually, as time went on, my heart began to heal itself.

As my heart started healing, I decided I wanted to plant a tree in the spot where Gus was buried. I wanted something to stand where he was, something to be a constant reminder of the bond we had. I did research on trees, and I chose to plant a Magnolia tree in the spot in my yard where Gus is buried. Although the Magnolia tree is a feministic tree, it represents friendship and love, which is exactly the kind of bond that I had with Gus. Magnolia trees are only in bloom for a very short period of time, but during that time, they are beautiful and bright. This is a wonderful representation of my time with Gus. The tree is a beautiful reminder of life, love, and death. It reminds me to focus on the beautiful, and not the ugly.

Gus's death seems fitting to me in a way now. I know it sounds strange, but he was named after a character in one of my favorite novels who dies unexpectedly. The novel, The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green, was my favorite novel in high school because I love an ending that can make me cry. Augustus Waters in the novel dies from a cancer relapse, breaking the heart of his girlfriend Hazel. Hazel has a quote in the novel about Augustus' death that resonates with me and my Gus' death.

When I reread the novel for the first time after Gus died, this quote pulled at my heart. It brought light to me that I should be thankful for the time that I was able to spend with Gus. I should be thankful for the good times that we were able to spend together and for the happiness that he brought me.

My one and only tattoo

About a year after Gus died, I decided to get this tattoo because I felt like it was so fitting in my life. It not only serves as a reminder of Gus and the everlasting impact that he left on my life, but it is also my daily reminder to not take a single day for granted. I have so many people in my life to be thankful for, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity that I have to spend with the people that I love. This tattoo reminds me that some infinities are bigger than other infinities, and to remember to make every day count.

Gus and I camping

Recently, I have been thinking about getting another dog. Gus meant so much to me and I thought that he made me a better person, so I did some research to find out how dogs can affect their owners lives.

Through my research, I found that dogs are not only pets to humans, but studies have shown how they can positively affect human’s social, psychological, and physical health.

After doing this research and knowing how much I loved Gus, I see that not only did he improve my life because he was a loving pet, but he also improved my mental, physical, and social life. There were so many benefits that came with having a dog that changed my life, which is why I have decided to look into adopting another dog.

Regardless of whether or not I get another dog any time soon, nothing will replace the spot in my heart I have for Gus. He was a different kind of dog and he meant a lot to me. His death taught me a lot about not taking things for granted, and I will always be thankful for the time I was able to spend with him and the lessons he taught me while he was alive. He improved my health, physically, mentally, and socially. Gus changed me, for the better, and for that, I am forever grateful.


Created with images by Falkenpost - "cemetery magnolia cemetery mobile" • Filter Forge - "Background Gen" • AlainAudet - "english bulldog bulldog dog"

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