Clear79° WeatherClear79° Weather

A bittersweet end for Gus, the World's Ugliest Dog

Janey Teed says goodbye to Gus, the World’s Ugliest Dog, while being dropped off at Tyrone Square Mall. Her mother told her it might be the last time she sees the Chinese crested, who is dying of cancer.

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times

Janey Teed says goodbye to Gus, the World’s Ugliest Dog, while being dropped off at Tyrone Square Mall. Her mother told her it might be the last time she sees the Chinese crested, who is dying of cancer.

GULFPORT — She wrapped the World's Ugliest Dog in a blue baby blanket and carried him outside. But even in the sun, Gus couldn't stop shivering.

"Hey, little guy," she said softly. "You want to go for a ride?"

Gus looked up at her and blinked his one bulbous eye. His three paws were curled, claw-like, into his bony body.

In June, when he was crowned in California, he became an instant celebrity. He growled at Howard Stern, appeared on the Today show and Fox & Friends. Everyone agreed he couldn't look worse.

Since then, Gus had lost 5 pounds — half his body weight. The cancer that claimed his back leg had twisted his spine. The $1,600 he won in the contest helped pay for chemo. But it didn't cure him. A few days ago, the vet said Gus only had a few days.

So on Saturday, Jeanenne Teed booked a room on Treasure Island, one last getaway for her dog who loves road trips. "There you are," she said, lowering Gus onto a pillow on the passenger seat. "Let's go to the beach."

• • •

She found him eight years ago, just after her divorce. Someone told her about this hairless, bug-eyed creature being kept in a cage in a dark garage.

With the help of a rescue team, Jeanenne saved the Chinese crested puppy.

"He was the most hideous thing I had ever seen."

She told her son and daughter, who were in elementary school, that she was going to find the dog a good home. But that night, he curled against her — on her ex-husband's side of the bed.

"My mom had this crazy bond with Gus," said Janey Teed, 16. "We'd had other dogs before, but she'd never been like that. It was like, Gus needed her more."

After a cat scratched out his left eye, after cancer ate his leg, Gus became even more docile. And hideous.

When Jeanenne saw the World's Ugliest Dog contest on TV last year, she patted Gus and said, "They got nothing on you."

She flew him to California in June. By September, he was too weak to walk. Chemo cost $5,000 so Jeanenne, a certified public accountant, put down his prize money — plus her mortgage for October.

"He's part of the family."

• • •

She carried Gus into the motel, still shivering. She built a bed of blankets on the sofa and tucked him in.

"Remember?" she asked. "This is where we came to celebrate, when you won."

Gus opened his eye, then closed it. The effort seemed to exhaust him.

A few days earlier, he had stopped eating. A day ago, he stopped drinking. Jeanenne had to pour a few drops into the cap of a water bottle and hold it near his tongue.

She knew he needed her, now more than ever. But how do you know when it's time?

• • •

He slept fitfully Sunday night. By Monday morning, he was hiccupping, trying to catch his breath. She stroked the soft plume of fur on his forehead.

"Hey, little guy," she said softly. "You want to go for a ride?"

He had taken her places she'd never dreamed of going, gotten her on talk shows and YouTube. All the way to the vet, she kept telling him, "I'm right here."

She held him as he left her. He watched her for what seemed like forever. When he shuddered, she tugged the blue blanket over his bald head.

On his tiny grave in her backyard, she planted a Butterfly bush with golden flowers.

"Something beautiful," she said, "to grow out of all that ugly."

Lane DeGregory can be reached at degregory@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8825.

A bittersweet end for Gus, the World's Ugliest Dog 11/10/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 18, 2008 4:04pm]

© 2014 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...