Local realtor Hilary Cobb said it was a wild hair that inspired her to organize last spring’s pet-fest at the Urban Animal Veterinary Hospital on Yale Street. It was a fun, family event where people could also adopt a dog.
Cobb, an animal volunteer who also works with Harris County Animal Shelter, was delighted when volunteers from Houston K-911 Rescue offered to bring Gus, a dog who had made the national news both for his level of abuse and neglect and for his recovery and renewed purpose, to the event. As is true for everywhere he goes, Gus was a hit.
The hometown hero is in the national news again. Gus has been named the 2019 American Humane Shelter Dog Hero.
He was one of seven dogs who went to Hollywood with his “servant and care-taker,” northwest Houston resident Anna Barbosa, to attend the awards gala, which will be broadcast nationwide on Hallmark Channel on Oct. 21. Other category winners included Hero Service Dog, Hero Law Enforcement Dog, Hero Therapy Dog, Hero Guide Dog, Hero Search and Rescue Dog and Hero Military Dog.
Barbosa remembers that Gus was found in Southeast Houston in an abandoned apartment complex. As his American Humane entry notes, he was found walking aimlessly with a head so severely swollen, you couldn’t tell he was a dog – thanks to a shoelace tied tight enough that it almost touched his bone.
“His good nature and compliance through all his very difficult procedures and surgeries has given people hope and something to cheer for,” noted the application. “He has been the glue for people from all over the world who look to him for some good in this very caustic and seemingly uncaring climate. His innocence and sweetness transcends cultural differences and indifference to the homeless dog crisis in Houston and other cities facing the same situation.”
Added Cobb: “This dog who might not have lived another day is now world famous.”
Houstonian Sandee Roguemore-Maxwell told The Leader last spring that she wrote “Gus, the Dog with the Big Head,” a children’s book about Gus’ journey, because she wanted to help educate the public about the overwhelming numbers of homeless pets in Houston.
“I thought a good place to start is by educating children,” Roguemore-Maxwell said.
Barbosa, the founder of Houston K-911 Rescue, a nonprofit, brings Gus to various school events when she can get the time off work. Gus will next be at a book reading at the Barbara Bush Library in Spring on Oct. 26.
According to Barbosa, Gus’ latest honor almost didn’t happen.
“One of Gus’ (online) followers sent me a link for the nomination on the day of the deadline,” she said. “I almost didn’t enter as it was late in the day and I had just gotten home and needed to attend to the dogs and other responsibilities. I completed the form under the wire.”
Barbosa said Gus has received so much love from people who are learning about the animal overpopulation crisis.
“He is helping to bring attention to this ongoing civic problem for citizens and the dogs,” Barbosa said. “For years the (largest) number of homeless dogs and cats has been limited (to) the low-income areas of Houston. You can visit areas like Fifth Ward, Third Ward, Sunnyside, Denver Harbor and Acres Homes and find dogs roaming the streets, in ditches, and congregating in the fields. Recently, this problem is encroaching into all areas of Houston. People are dumping dogs and abandoning dogs everywhere and in increasing numbers. It is obvious that we have a long way to go in educating on proper pet care and commitment.”
For more information on Gus’ Hero Dog recognition, visit herodogawards.org/dog/gus/.