Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Dachshund: Meet Gus

Gus with friends at Nagoya, Japan, 1961

In honor of Memorial Day, enjoy reading about the spectacular life of 'Gus,' a black and tan dachshund who was rated a 'Senior Pilot With Combat Missions.' Gus later experienced back issues which were mostly resolved, and lived to be 12.5 years old.

by Sally L. Bond, Orlando, Florida, for The American Dachshund, August, 1965

I must write you and all the other poor babies who wear leg and back braces.
It is about our Gus, who is in Dachshund Heaven.
Gus came to live with us in 1946, while we were stationed at Gunter Field, Alabama. Gus learned to fly with his daddy and never got airsick.
In 1949, Gus and his family flew to Japan, where he was a novelty to the Japanese people. He lived in a big house with seven servants to pamper him. He learned Japanese rapidly.
Then came the Korean war. His daddy went, and Gus moved with his mother to Komaki Airstrip. His home was on top of a hill overlooking the flight line. He could lie on the back of a big chair his mother pushed in front of the window and watch the planes land and take off. As his mother was the only American woman on the base, he had many friends and flew with all the pilots, made many missions into Korea and saw his daddy in combat quite often.
Stationed there were many types of aircraft, and, because he was an experienced flier himself, he knew what pilot flew each plane. If someone stuck his head in the door and said, "Come on Gus, let's fly," he always beat them down to the line. He knew what plane to go to, and he was rated a senior pilot with combat missions, night and blind flying recorded on his cards and all.
Then one day in 1952 his daddy came in and said "Boy, we are going home."
His next home was Richmond, Virginia. His daddy was not flying there, and it was a dull life for a while. Because his mother worked also, they would leave him at a kennel during the daytime and pick him up at 5 o'clock. Life in an apartment was no fun. The only thing of interest was the walk he took with his family around the neighborhood before going to bed.
One day at the kennel he hurt his back. Life was not worthwhile until the doctor told his family they could take him home every night at 5 and return him at about 10. Always before returning to the hospital, they carried him in their arms around the same old paths he used to stroll.
The worst part of the hospital was being catheterized by the doctors. He tried so hard to tell them, but they just wouldn't understand - until one night his daddy held him against his favorite tree, and there it was. He had been trained to be a good dog.
In the apartment kitchen there were dual tubs, one quite deep. His family reasoned that if water therapy benefited paralyzed polio patients, why would it not work on Gus? His daddy fixed the deep tub so warm water ran in and out at the same rate of speed, and they took turns working his legs gently back and forth every night. He seemed to enjoy it, even though the doctors said they might as well put him to sleep - at his age he would never walk again. So every night it was back to the tub.
One night his daddy was on the telephone in the next room and Mother was working his legs. As she pulled back on them, he pressed hard against her hand. All she could do was stand there and scream. Daddy came running. That night Gus stayed in the tub a little longer, and everyone had a good cry.
About three days later, when they drove up to the hospital, the doctor carried Gus out to the car and put him down on the grass. On weak, wobbly legs, Gus tried to walk on them.
Not long after that he did learn to walk again. Once again he was able to go up and down stairs and jump up to his favorite chair. He even flew again. It was a good life until a heart attack while asleep at his home in Florida ended his spectacular life at the age of 12-1/2 years.

Editors' note: Mrs. Bond says Gus was paralyzed only about two weeks but that the paralysis was complete while it lasted. "The doctors thought we were out of our cotton pickin' minds," she adds, "but I think the secret is to start the therapy right away."

Related: Dachshunds in History: Mimi, A Most Unpopular Dog During WW2

Related: Dachshunds Teleconferencing with their Dads in Iraq in the News

Related: Dachshunds and Veterans Day

Related: Dachshunds Reunited with their Dads in the News

Related: Dachshunds in History: The Saga of Sgt. Wally D. Hund

Have a great Memorial Day.

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