The first time I saw Gus on April 3, 2016 he was in bad shape and at foster home that didn’t want him and was treating him pretty badly. I was told that he was locked outside in a crate in a shed for most of the time the foster had him. A Rescue Coordinator called me and asked if I would drive and pick up Gus and take him to a stop along the I-95 Corridor where another volunteer would pick him up and take him to another foster in another state. The current foster wouldn’t even drive him 30 minutes to meet his ride to another foster.
Gus weighed 49 lbs and was said to be 2 years old. He looked more like he was 5, his skin was in such bad shape and he had cuts and abrasions all over his face and front legs.
My heart sank when he looked up at me with those big eyes that just said, Help Me Please. Gus had been found in Rocky Mount, NC under a porch of an abandoned house. He had a chain the size you would tow a car with, around his neck and lead of at least 10 feet. He was taken to the local animal shelter and was rescued just an hour before he was to be put down by a heart stick. The Rescue that rescued him was in Illinois and didn’t realize how difficult it would be to get him there and how much it would cost to keep him until they could arrange transport.
I put out a request to our wonderful Volunteer’s at Pilot.dog and asked if someone could help me get Gus and take him to meet his ride. (Steve was away that weekend) Within minutes Tara contacted me and offered to drive the hour and a half to pick Gus up and take him to meet his ride. For some unknown reason we don’t have a picture to share of Tara. Sorry Tara.
When Tara and I arrived to pick up Gus you would have thought we were old lost friends of his. He was the friendliest dog and didn’t seem to have ever met a stranger. Everyone was his friend and he was glad to see you!
Gus jumped up in the Pilot.dog van and settled right down. Tara was great, she sat in the back of with Gus and he immediately fell asleep on her hand as she was rubbing his chin.
We drove to the designated drop off area and waited for the Driver of the next leg to come pick Gus up. He was so sweet and loving I couldn’t believe anyone could hurt this poor baby. When the driver showed, Gus didn’t want to go. We had to pick him up and put him in the car. My heart sank as they left and Gus looked out the window at me. It was as if he was saying, You too?
Tara and I worried about him all the way home. I just couldn’t get him off my mind. I kept in touch with his Rescue in IL and the Coordinator who arranged the trip. Things were not looking good for Gus to get to his final destination in IL and the Rescue had run out of money for him. They wouldn’t even pay for his medical bills for his skin treatment.
That’s when I stepped in and offered to buy Gus from the Rescue. I paid her what I thought was fair and she agreed. I told my husband (Pilot Steve) it would be easy to find him a new home since I knew a lot of rescues and I was sure one of them would jump at the chance to take him. Unfortunately, due to Gus’s size, breed mix and his skin allergies he wasn’t a highly adoptable dog. So no one was able to take him. Since I’d never been on this side of a rescue before, I was at a total loss. Good news was my rescue friends gave me tremendous support and advice on what to do.
I had Gus spayed and his skin looked after. He needed to leave his current foster for things were not going well there. That’s when Melissa Stubblefied of Country K-9 Pet Resort & Spa in Stephenson, VA stepped in and helped me. She and her husband Tom were angels sent from heaven! They asked me what I wanted to do and I told them whatever it took to get him healthy and happy again. They did just that! Melissa and her staff went way beyond what a regular Kennel would do for a dog being boarded. They took Gus to Dr’s appointments, had trainers work with him and he was constantly being loved by the staff and volunteers as he was definitely a favorite. It took several months but with medication, diet and treatments to get his skin back to normal. Now it was time to find Gus his furever home.
Finding a dog the right home is not easy! These animal deserve love and affection. One of my friend’s, Pam Knichel’s of Pet Match Rescue of PA, helped me put Gus’s story out to all her friends and followers on FaceBook several times. Pam and Elli from Mr. Bones and Company in NY were great at giving me advice on what to do once I found someone interested in adopting Gus. I could never have done this without their help.
Steve and I launched a huge campaign on our Pilot.dog Facebook page about Gus and asking if there was someone looking for a special dog. Here was the video Steve put together.
Our first campaign was just finishing when Steve asked if would should run another. I said, yes let’s run it one more time and then we’ll regroup. That was our magic campaign. After 50,000+ views of the video, Gus had someone who was interested in adopting him.
In the middle of October we received a response from a lovely woman, Michelle from Indianapolis, who saw Gus’s story and fell in love, just like I did. After many conversations about Gus, Michelle and her family decided he was the perfect fit for their home. They totally loved him already and they hadn’t even met him other than pictures and videos. All that was left was for me to do my vetting and reference checks. We all decided to take Gus to them on a weekend so that the kids could be there when we landed.
On the Saturday after Thanksgiving we flew to Winchester, VA to pick up Gus from Melissa and Tom.
It was so wonderful to see Gus again. He looked even better than when we last saw him in August.
Gus now weights 75 lbs and his skin has completely cleared. Melissa and Tom brought Gus to the airport to meet us. It was really hard for them to say goodbye. They had just about decided to adopt him themselves when Michelle and her family decided to adopt him.
We loaded up in the plane and Gus and I settled in the back seat for our four hour flight to Indianapolis International Airport where we would meet, his new family.
While Gus and I snuggled in the back with each other one last time, poor Steve battled clouds, rain, ice buildup and poor radio connections.
Gus maybe 75 lbs. but he thinks he’s a lap dog. He laid on me most of the way to Indianapolis. We were nice and warm with our blankets around us and each other.
We landed just before sunset and Gus’s new family were waiting for him.
Michelle, Eugene, Blake and Olivia were in the terminal anxiously awaiting his arrival. Gus walks in and immediately goes to mom Michelle, then Blake, Olivia and his new dad Eugene. It was as if he knew, they’re here for me, my new family, at last I’m home. Michelle made Steve and I the most beautiful quilt I have ever seen! We will treasure it always and everytime I see it I will think of Gus and his amazing new family.
Saying goodbye to Gus was so hard, I have loved him for so long. As Michelle and I cried together as we said goodbye, she promised he would always have two moms and she would keep me updated with how he was doing. She has kept that promise and even as they drove home she was sending me pictures. Gus has found a forever home and I have found a new forever friend.
Steve and I spent the night in Indianapolis before heading home.
But as we left Indianapolis, I left a little bit of my heart there know that one day I will return to see him again. I love you Gus, have a wonderful life my boy!
I can’t forget to also thank the wonderful staff of Signature Flight Support at the Indianapolis airport. Tyler and Jackie took good care of everyone involve there for Gus that day. Steve even got his picture taken with Jackie.