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 young puppy.

When I went to 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 so I would 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