Animals touch our lives in special ways. We say goodbye to a special dog, Gussie Love.

Gussie Love was a devoted member of the VISIONS community for the last decade. He passed away yesterday, one month shy of his 18th birthday. When adopting Gussie from the local Humane Society ten years ago, his paperwork identified him as a potential menace and feasibly “unadoptable” based on reports from the humans of his first eight years. It was quickly evident that he’d probably been overly isolated and caged, misunderstood and underestimated. 

I am so grateful that he was put up for adoption and became part of my life.

Gussie (“Muffin”) was spirited, protective, loving, and a trooper. His personality was 100 times his physical size. He was emotional at times (a yorkie), and very much a member of the family. He was the first “brother” of Youra Moeun, my “adopted daughter,” who lived with my former beau and me for five years while attending college in Bozeman. Youra is one of five daughters from an agricultural family in Cambodia, where coddling a dog—let alone sleeping with it—wasn’t a thing. But cross-species affections are real and the two became dear friends to each other.

Right after adoption, shopping for dog bed

Youra and Gussie

Dog brother Petey with VISIONS workmate Dan

 With Katherine and Stacy at Leader Training

Lovely senior moment

Muffin went to work almost every day—even when I was traveling—since workmate friends often took care of him while I was gone. It takes a village, after all. When work shifted to our living rooms during the pandemic, I was even more easily able to dote on my beloved friend. Freed from the sense of duty to spend much of the day behind a desk, we took more walks. Then in the evenings—keeping up with job duties from the comfort of the couch—with Gussie cozy at my side. 

He did miss his workmates during covid, though, and any stroll near the old office had Gussie tugging on the leash to go back to work, where he’d run up the stairs and look at me with disappointment when we didn’t enter. He used to sprint through the doors every morning to see his pals, going from desk to desk to say hello, so overwhelmingly excited for the day. 

Things were on Gussie’s terms in many ways. He didn’t like to be touched on the head, for example, and if anyone dared, he would jump back and stare at them with a look of disapproval and boundaries. But a rub on the hind quarters was another thing, and he’d spin in circles with abandon and delight. 

“Kisses” were a thing for Muffin, a way to win him over. So were treats, but they could only tide a person over so long before needing to deepen the relationship somehow. A man of dignity, he wasn’t putty in anyone’s hands. He could be tough, which only added to his personality and my bottomless affection for this sentient creature. 

As anyone who has bonded with an animal understands, I miss the sweet boy dearly. And as with the dogs who have come before him and those who will adopt me in the future, I will adore Gussie, always. His indelible mark was special and unique, different from other beings who have been part of my life. In departing this earth, he said goodbye to many friends and VISIONS pals, his human father Matt, Youra, a younger dog brother (Petey), family members and me. 

To a very good boy, thank you for sharing your dear life with us.

Truly, Katherine

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