Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Faith Stories: Gus the Gray Ghost

"...dogs don't possess a soul, but they have a spirit" Maria Simma

Gus the Gray Ghost
We got Gus, a Weimaraner, from a rescue group when he was 8 months old.  Dogs called Weimaraners are gray in color and have been referred to as The Gray Ghost. I didn't know how true this nickname would be until a decade later.  My son, Aaron (then 14 years old) and I drove one hour to Cincinnati to adopt Gus.  When we first saw him he ran to us and almost leapt over our heads.  Driving back home I wondered what I had gotten us in to.

Aaron with Scout and Gus camping
in the backyard in 1999
Gus fit into our family just fine.  We had another female Weimaraner the same age and they became fast friends.  Gus' favorite person was Aaron.  What dog doesn't cling to a 14 year old boy?  They grew up together.  When Gus was 9 years old he developed heart disease.  Aaron, now an adult  was ending his four-year enlistment in the U.S. Navy.  Aaron was home about 6 months before Gus died.   Aaron and I were both with Gus when we had to say goodbye.

Aaron had joined the U.S. Navy when he was 18 years old and while there was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis.  He became very ill and did not re-enlist.  By this time, Aaron was 23 years old with a wife and a son. He got a job in manufacturing and had another baby.  His health began to decline rapidly.  He was rushed to Christ Hospital in Cincinnati for an operation to remove his bowel.  He was too ill to have a complete surgery so it would require two operations.  The first surgery took his bowel and left him with an ostomy bag.  The next surgery, four months later, would give him a j pouch (a new colon) freeing him from the ostomy bag.

Aaron home from the Navy
After Aaron's surgery, his family of four moved into our home.  My grandson was 3 years old and my granddaughter just six months old. I still had two teens in high school too.  After Aaron's second surgery he came home and everything seemed fine at first.  After a few days he became very ill.  We knew something was wrong.  His wife started calling doctors.  She was told to get him to Christ Hospital fast!  It was an hour away.  Our plan was for Aaron's wife to drive him to the hospital and my husband and I would follow behind in our car.  The other grandparents were watching the children.

Aaron and his son Max
with Gus about 6 months
before Gus died.
Aaron was too sick to walk to the car.  We tried to lift him to carry him to the car but we couldn't.  We put him in a desk chair that was on rollers and started rolling him to the door to the garage, then my husband was going to carry him the rest of the way to the car.  It was chaos. All three of us, me, my husband and Aaron's wife were pushing Aaron to the door in the desk chair.  We stopped for a moment in the kitchen to get him around a corner.  I looked down and there by my side, behind Aaron was Gus, who had died a year earlier.  I became paralyzed with fear.  I thought if Gus is here, he has come to be with Aaron because Aaron is dying.  I kept my composure for the moment. 

We finally got Aaron into his car.  His wife sped away with him to the hospital.  My husband and I jumped into our minivan and followed them.  I immediately started sobbing.  I told my husband that I had seen Gus in the kitchen and that Aaron must be dying.  I waited for my husband to tell me I was nuts and that it was just my imagination.  But he said something else.  "I saw him too", he replied.  In all the chaos, my husband had seen Gus standing in our family room.  We just looked at each other with bewilderment.  

We found out at the hospital that Aaron had become septic. Everything seemed orchestrated perfectly to save Aaron's life.  Aaron's surgery was successful. Today, Aaron is 29 years old and perfectly healthy.  He doesn't have a colon but he rock climbs, canoes and is very active.  You wouldn't know he was inches from death to see him now. 

As for our Gray Ghost Gus, we haven't seen him again, thank God.   I know there were forces from heaven saving Aaron's life that day, that is for certain.  I find it comforting to know Gus is always with Aaron.  I picture Aaron's guardian angel with a dog by his side, both of them watching over their boy.  It seems dogs are just as loyal after their death as they were in life.



    1. I'm so sorry about Samson. They really are part of the family and it is a great loss when we have to say goodbye. Thank you for reading and commenting,