After 276 Days at a Shelter, A Dog Name Gus Finds A Home

The 12-year-old, 94-pound dog at the Arizona Humane Society was the longest resident
By Bretta Nelson, June 2019, Updated June 2021
longest animal shelter stay

It took 276 days, but grumpy ol’ Gus has finally been adopted! Gus came into the Arizona Humane Society (AHS) in Phoenix, Arizona on July 31, 2018 after being found nearby in Glendale, Arizona. During his stray hold, no one ever came forward for the 12-year-old Australian Shepherd mix who was living with a bit of arthritis and dental issues, both of which were treated through the Arizona Humane Society’s trauma hospital.

His size (94lbs, probably more now due to the amount of treats staff and volunteers gave him!) and fluffiness alone were enough to draw people to him, but it didn’t take long for AHS staff and volunteers to love Gus, but boy, he did not necessarily love us. 

“Gus is like one of those friends you sometimes have who are usually a bit cranky and sarcastic, but you see the good in them so you remain friends,” said Bretta Nelson, Arizona Humane Society spokesperson. “He always made me laugh because I would go out of my way to enthusiastically greet him in his kennel and he would just look at me like I was crazy and then turn his head the other way.”

For interested adopters looking to meet Gus, the interaction wasn’t much different. People would often have to visit him on several different occasions simply because he really wouldn’t give them the time of day. For others, he would perhaps even give a low growl or nip. It wasn’t that Gus was aggressive, he was just very nervous around new people and those who invaded his space without warning. At one point, in November 2018, Gus was adopted but returned shortly after due to landlord issues.


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Over the last 276 days (311 days total if you include his brief adoption) though, Gus certainly warmed up to staff, some of them at least, and really seemed to enjoy living at AHS. So much so, that he had to be put on a diet because everyone was giving him too many treats. He also became one of the tour stops on AHS’ President and CEO, Dr. Steven Hansen’s, donor tours.

It was Dr. Hansen that got to do the honors in announcing Gus’ adoption to staff, volunteers and AHS’ Board of Directors, saying:

“I couldn’t be happier to let you all know Gus went home yesterday! After 276 days at AHS and the tireless efforts of our adoptions, animal care, behavior, marketing, communications, medical, foster and volunteer teams he found his way home. Have you ever seen a dog with a bigger smile? (In referring to his adoption day photo) As most of you know, Gus is older and doesn’t always get along with others. Our team didn’t give up. Congratulations Gus!!”

Gus’ story is certainly one of perseverance and showcases that there is a home out there for every pet regardless of how long it may take. Gus now resides with his new mom, Danielle, in Phoenix. Danielle visited Gus six(!) times at AHS before adopting him on June 4, 2019. There was not a dry eye in the house and clearly, the two soulmates couldn’t be happier!

Photos courtesy Arizona Humane Society