Breed: Rough Collie

I missed Gustav's first year of life. I adopted him just one day after his first birthday, and I often wonder what he was like as a puppy.

When I went to go meet Gus, the lady rehoming him said, “I really don’t want to get rid of him. He’s the best dog I’ve ever had.” No one says that about a one year old puppy, as they’re usually still crazy fools at that age. Of course, that could have been a line she used to get me take him, but I doubt it.

Because I took him home, and he’s been the best dog I’ve ever had. Paws down, no contest. My previous Collies and the Labrador Retrievers of my childhood were all great, but I think Gus will be that once-in-a-lifetime heart dog, the standard by which I will (guiltily) judge every dog who comes after him…

I won’t lie to myself or you by saying he’s perfect. But almost. He is, I think, as close to perfect as any dog comes. Sure, that’s bias talking, but after 8 years of sharing my heart and home with him, I’m attached. This grand and glorious, “oversized” bear of a Collie dog has lived with me in 7 different houses, remaining my constant. I almost took a teaching job in China a few years back, and one of my requirements was that he had to come with me. Where I go, he goes. Nearly every day, I look at him and say, “You have to live forever.” And maybe he will. After all, heaven wouldn’t be complete for me without him.

- Emily Sowulewski