One of my partner’s associates recently brought her new miniature Schnauzer puppy into the office. The pup was tiny, not much more than two handfuls as I held him, a silky white with light gray highlights. As I enjoyed the puppy smell and cuddling, I was reminded of an old four-legged friend of my own.
Later that day, as I looked for some document in a folder on the computer, I came across some messages from that old friend. It was 2003 when I first took my new puppy – Gus – to the office to show off. He was a furry ball of Golden Retriever, light blond with no hint that he would grow to become a handsome 90-pounder with a flowing tail plume that faded to white. As Gus grew, I soon determined that therapy dog work would be a good job for him since he was calm in most situations and trusted my directions. In 2006, he received his Certified Therapy Dog credentials that allowed him to accompany me for the next decade to disability walk events, libraries for visits with autistic children, nursing homes and hospitals to give children and adult patients some moments of joy with his tricks and big, soft, furry body. (See his picture on our Upcoming Events article in our monthly newsletter.)
Gus was a smart dog. I had forgotten how smart until I found some of his work in my computer. Yes, he liked to use my computer – kind of like those cats you see typing away on those viral YouTube cat videos. Except they aren’t really typing words. Gus liked to chronicle his life events. Like the following risqué musing about Cocoa, a beautiful chocolate Labradoodle owned by Al and Jacqueline Gordy, owners of Barksdale Labradoodles in Magee. Gus must have had a thing for Cocoa:
My Designer Dog Fantasy – by Gus Courtney
Just one night with Miss Cocoa (and if I wasn’t neutered!) . . .
I’d make Al and Jacqueline believers.
They think they have pretty dogs now, but just wait
‘Til they see Goldenoodle Labtrievers!
Gus went through Therapy Dog certification training under the direction of Suzanne Vening, a great trainer of therapy dogs. Other canines in her Southern Charm School for Dogs class included Smooch and Tino, as noted here:
Little Boys Peep – by Gus Courtney
Me, Smooch and Tino once were so green, oh
We couldn’t “stand”, “leave it” or “wait.”
But along came Suzanne with a masterful plan,
And now everybody acts great!!!
Suzanne was creative in her training techniques. One of her biggest (cruelest?) tests of the dogs’ ability to leave temptations alone while working was to put an open can of cat food – aka a dog’s fantasy treat – in the middle of the training room floor and require us to parade the dogs up to it with a loose leash and have them sit. Well, Gus used a little creativity in describing that routine:
Hooray for Southern Charm and Miss Suzanne,
Who knows the ragings of the savage beast —
And tames temptation with a can of Roast Turkey Feast.
Yes, Gus was a smart dog. And my best friend. And I am proud to say that, as you will note here, even when he didn’t use spell-check he communicated so much better than those phony cats on those videos.
Why I Like Mye Teechur, Mis Suzzannnn
by Gus Cortnyy
Its amazing tu think I will b grajuating soon. I have reely injoyed all my klasses, speshully Theruppy Grajuet Skule. It haz maid me feeel reel gud about mysself and I hav also develuppt moar respekt for my owners (well, maybe nott qwite as much az thay thinkk – hahahahahaha). I dont need so much treets tu doo my stuff anymoor. And I lik makin the peeples in the fusilitees feeel gud, too! Ms Suzzannn, you ar a GGGRRRAAAAATTT TTTEEECHUUURRRR!!!!!!!!!!!