Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Fate in Gus

I used to think I wasn't a dog person. In fact, I thought I was more of a cat person growing up. My Aunt Sylvia brought me a little gray bundle of fur on Halloween when I was 8. I think it was her way of trying to help me cope with my parent's divorce. I named the cat Pumpkin, and did my best to teach him juggling. I dressed him up in doll clothes, forced him to sit in my stroller, and put a leash around his collar in hopes he would go on walks. Instead, he clawed my Mom's curtains, brought dead birds and mice to our front door, and only stopped napping when cat nip was near.

When Pumpkin ran away at 14 years old never to be seen again (although my Mom swears she saw his ghost while doing a load of laundry), I didn't get another pet until my late twenties when I went through 3 hamsters in a matter of months. They were all named Holly the Hamster (all named after Holly Golightly of Breakfast at Tiffany's), and they each died because of my unrealistic expectations of them. Holly the 1st was being played with in the driveway when she suddenly scurried off down a gopher hole (probably right into a gopher's mouth); Holly II fell off my shoulder and onto the concrete as I was walking to the bus stop to pick up kids i was babysitting (suffering major brain damage); Holly III was baked in the sun after sitting too long in traffic in my car. It was clear that I was not meant to be a hamster owner or even a cat owner because I needed a pet that could be my side-kick, and Pumpkin and the Hollys were not equipped to handle this need. Only a dog would enjoy outings, dressing up, learning tricks, taking walks, and playing outside.

During my two years of dog sitting dachshunds named Moses and Maggie, I became enamored with the breed. They were cuddly, loyal, protective, and the perfect size for an apartment. Knowing that I would love to someday get one of my own, I would often think about what I would name mine. Mathilda if it were a girl--after the Roald Dahl character, and Gus if it were a boy--after the grandpa on the 1980's family TV show Our House. On a whim, I decided to get on craigslist and type in "dachshund." One brown 2 year old male dachshund from Pasadena popped up. Clicking on the photo, his name appeared and his name was Gus. My heart stopped. This was my dog. Although it was completely impractical to adopt a dog when I had just moved to L.A. and was a new student at UCLA, I went and picked him up and brought him to his new home. It was Halloween, just like when I got my cat, and yet this time I had the animal I was meant to have all along.

Gus wears a vintage black skinny tie for my 1960's themed birthday party; I'm wearing a 1964 peach gown I bought in Anacortes, WA in an antique store for $12 when I was 15 years old.

Gus dressed up as a banana for his 2nd Halloween with me.

Gus taking a peek at the squeaky toys under the tree.

Gus having a tea party with a little girl he is babysitting.

Gus watching The Ugly Dachshund for the third time in a row.

Disney's 1966 film about a Great Dane who believes he is a dachshund and mayhem ensues.

A summer walk with Gus: I'm wearing a pink and peach 1940's dress I bought at Stella Dallas in Greenwich Village on a NYC shopping trip with my Mom; my bag is a vintage wicker purse I received as a birthday gift from my friend Kirsty 10 years ago.

Attempting an afternoon nap in a teal raw silk 1950's off-the-shoulder vintage dress.

Gus wearing his Breakfast at Tiffany's slumber mask.