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A New Addition

Well, after envying Lindsay and Ace’s relationship for quite a while now (and every other human-dog bond for that matter) – I have finally taken the plunge and adopted another dog!

It was a challenge to get to this point, but we are so glad that we have done it! Our 16-year-old pound hound passed away about two years ago, and it took some time to get over it.

More recently, our sweet 3-year-old cat Inso (who thought he was a dog) suddenly died from cancer. In spite of still having a 16-year-old Russian blue cat and two rescued alley cats in the house, all the life and energy seemed to be gone. The old cat is just that, old.

Sure, he walks on his leash and is very well behaved but is not so playful in his old age. He’ll want attention but mostly wants to nap.

I was trolling the rescue ads as I often do (since I miss having a dog in the house) and came across a really special guy. I sent the ad to my husband, and we couldn’t get him out of our heads.

I contacted his foster family and asked if he was still around. Sure enough – he was.

And now, may I introduce Gustav the bloodhound. His name is actually Gus, but Gustav sounds so much more regal!

He is AWESOME and everyone who meets him falls in love. Besides bragging about my excellent new addition, I thought I would take this opportunity to reiterate what we’ve read on this blog many times and throw in some of my own tips:

Know the breed you are getting yourself into!

Gus is a bloodhound. He is stubborn. He drools. He smells “like dog” (not overpowering, but that “dog smell”).

This guy has big, floppy ears that need to be kept clean or else an infection could set in. He is also 110+ pounds and not the dog that just anyone should attempt to have. Conversely, he is the sweetest, most nonviolent dog ever.

He won’t attack you, children, or other animals. The point: if you can’t deal with the idiosyncrasies of the breed – don’t get it! This poor guy was dropped off at the shelter, adopted, returned, adopted again, returned again and then saved by his foster family.

We are at least the fifth family he has been with and estimate that he is about 3-4 years old. No dog deserves this. If you are going to adopt a dog, make sure you know what you are getting into. Animals are not disposable. Don’t be selfish with your choice.

If you want a dog to just sit there and not need any attention until you are ready, then you should probably not get a dog at all.

Set goals!

Gus is about 10-15 pounds overweight. This is partly due to his lazy bloodhound nature. I have two primary goals/challenges that I am undertaking to combat this.

First, I walk him every morning right when I wake up. This is not a problem since I used to get up and get on my elliptical trainer or stationary bike for 30-45 minutes to wake up each day.

He’s a brisk walker, which works perfect for me. We are on our second week and have not missed a morning. He does get walks at least two other times in the day so far as well.

Second, I bought him a dog pack (like a saddlebag). This will help him lose the weight and give him a job to do where he feels responsible. He is trying to get accustomed to it now. It is really amusing at first, and he acts like he can’t walk. It isn’t tight and doesn’t hurt, he’s just stubborn.

He’s getting much better, and we walk with it on him every morning. I keep a collapsible water bowl, refillable water bottles, a drool rag, doo-doo bags, treats, wipes and doggie cologne in his bag.

Speaking of goals, take on a small bit at a time.

I have other future goals for Gus but am not going to burden either of us with that pressure yet. Once we have the walk and wearing a pack as a routine, I’ll introduce other enrichment behaviors and activities for him.

Realize your car will now belong to the dog if you take him places.

We have two cars, fortunately. We have set up one with the back seat entirely covered in sheets and towels for Gus to lie and drool as he sees fit. Once you do this and let the dog have the domain, move on. This is part of having a dog.

We constantly clean the sheets and towels and wipe up the drool, but do so happily since we are so glad to have him in our lives.

Be the pack leader!

There is no reason to be mean or overbearing to a new dog, but set limitations early. Especially with my Gus, he likes to see what he can get away with. His foster family was marvelous and put him through some training so he understands “no” and some other behaviors.

I need to continue to work on these with him so he does not forget.

Again, being the pack leader does not mean you have to yell or make your dog feel bad. Like Lindsay has pointed out before, calling your dog over and then yelling does not work. Gus can try our patience but we keep calm and get him to cooperate.

We don’t yell or scold. If you met him you would understand that! He’s the sweetest guy ever.

Fortunately, I live in a very dog friendly area. There are a multitude of places that we can take Gus in Los Angeles, and he is very mellow around other dogs to boot.

Over the weekend we took him to the Venice Boardwalk and could barely get through the crowd. Everyone wanted to pet and talk to him. He ate it up! We don’t have many bloodhounds in this part of the country, so he is quite popular because of that and his sweet demeanor.

Bottom line, adding a new dog to the family is a real responsibility.

Take that on (and take it seriously) and you’ll get more reward back than you ever put in. I’ll write about his progress again and how his goals are coming along (as long as Lindsay will have me). And yes, he is neutered, up to date with his shots and licensed.

Our 16-year-old cat is very happy to have a dog in the house again, but the two rescues were at first certain that he is the instrument of their demise. My husband is constantly working with them and they are starting to come around.

I want to especially thank Lindsay for keeping these topics at the front of my memory on this blog.

Thank you also for allowing me to post about the lives of my wonderful companion animals. I’ll be commenting from now on about my Gus instead of what I used to do with my old girl, Moca. Well, I can’t totally forget about her…

Apryl DeLancey is a Los Angeles native and sports fanatic who maintains a blog called “Women Like Sports.” Just about every sport you can think of is covered, so stop by for a visit sometime! Oh – and please, to paraphrase Bob Barker, don’t forget to spay and neuter your companion animals!

Check out Gus relaxing in his new home.

John Holtz

Tuesday 14th of October 2008

Hey Apryl!

Ann and I thank all the powers that be that you read our ad, made the long journey out to the IE(twice!), and adopted Gustav. He is a special boy and you and Matt are a special family. You are just the forever family that he needs.

We found Gus last February in Norco and he was near to being put on 'The List'. I was not really wanting another dog just yet as we had lost our old red Bloodhound,Abigail, recently. But when I came across Gus in an animal shelter and got his story I knew something needed to be done. So when we brought him home, we knew it would not be forever, but we did believe we were the best shot for him to make it.

Gus was pretty much wild. Gentle, but unmannerly. I would like to say I taught Gus manners and civility, but honestly, I believe he taught me more. He taught me that patience is more than lip service, it is hard at times! I mean really hard! He taught me that dogs can be just as smart as me, and just as tenacious. And lots quieter. Sneaky lil bugger he is.

Gus was a joy at times, a monster at others, but most of all, Gus is just a darn good ol' dog.

All our best to you, Matt, Gus, and the kitties.

John and Annabelle

Apryl DeLancey

Wednesday 8th of October 2008

We love our big, silly guy more every day! He is really starting to settle in. I feel like a new parent of an infant child - I show his pics to everyone and can't wait to get home from work to be with him! Thank you for the kind words and comments to all!

Mayra Calvani

Wednesday 8th of October 2008

How wonderful of you to adopt Gus, Apryl! You've made a difference in a dog's life. He's lucky!!!

Mayra Calvanis last blog post..Review of Nina's Waltz, by Corinne Demas

Abz & Chels

Wednesday 8th of October 2008

Great post and gorgeous dog. Last week in my blog travels I came across about 5 different Bloodhound blogs but I forgot to bookmark them (but theyre out there) the snoring, much more rythmic than Chelseas

Abz & Chelss last blog post..Juste parce que je l’aime


Tuesday 7th of October 2008

Wow, that video of Gus is just like all my "tired Biggie" videos! sometimes you need video to show that really, the dog is NOT moving.

Congratulations on adopting Gus - he is a real cutie.

Biggie-Zs last blog post..Teaching a kuvasz not to guard - is it possible?