June 6, 2019 – How is it possible to pay homage to a beloved dog in a few sentences? Gus Kilgour and his forever mom, Maureen, have been passionate supporters of Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study from the time recruitment began.
Maureen and her husband, Jim, met 17-month-old Gus when he was put up for adoption. Upon receiving a diagnoses of elbow dysplasia, his first owners relinquished Gus in favor of a dog that could run with them. Other potential adopters passed him by and Maureen knew that would continue – few folks wanted to adopt a dog with a medical condition. Maureen also was cautioned not to adopt a dog with elbow dysplasia. Maureen understood their concern, listened, looked at the dog in front of her, and knew he was meant to be hers. She, Jim and Gus would tackle the medical issues together.
Gus’s Gotcha Day with the Kilgours was April 3, 2010. By the time the Study launched in 2012, he was beyond the maximum enrollment age of 2 years. Nonetheless, Maureen and her Gus became a constant presence on the 3000 Strong Community Supporters’ Facebook page. We all became familiar with Gus’s smile and came to know him as his true self; Gus da Silly Goose.
The first thing Gus did when he came to his forever home was to quietly crawl across the floor and sidle up to his new brother, Dylan, giving him a soft kiss on the face. He seemed to know that Dylan was an older gentleman and needed to be treated with calm reverence.
That was the beginning of Maureen recognizing Gus had the temperament and personality to be a therapy dog.
With a new titanium plate in his leg to help combat the dysplasia, Gus began his career as a therapy dog at Utah State Hospital, specializing in loving and encouraging adults and teenagers in the psychiatric department.
Gus continued working and living life to the fullest until 2016 when a grand mal seizure led to a diagnosis of B-cell lymphoma. Throughout six months of chemotherapy, whenever he was feeling up to it, Gus continued to make his rounds at Utah State Hospital, giving and receiving healing love.
Chemotherapy was successful, and Gus was 22 months in remission when it was discovered he had a severe heart arrhythmia, believed to be a result of chemotherapy. After several weeks on various medications, Gus was back to a normal rhythm. Barely two months later, Gus was in renal failure. The suspected cause was a resurgence of lymphoma that was now affecting his GI tract. Maureen and Jim helped Gus move on to the rainbow bridge on April 1, 2019.
Throughout all his medical ups and downs, Gus was a trooper and on good days still enjoyed burying his head in an unintentionally open food bin, carrying one of his many “babies” around the house and offering that smile to everyone.
Gus’s attitude and genuine love of being silly and happy shine in all of Maureen’s Facebook posts.
If we’re lucky, we have each loved our own special Gus, simply under a different name. Gus da Silly Goose demonstrated courage, love and hope to our 3000 Strong Community. One of the many nicknames Maureen had for him was “Mender of Broken Hearts.”
Maureen promises to continue posting happy, goofy and silly pictures of Gus. It will be his way of mending our broken hearts. Thank you, Gus, Maureen and Jim. We persist to search for answers to lymphoma and other deadly diseases in honor of you and all our incredible heroes and supporters.