2 August

Red’s Grace: Accepting Gus

by Jon Katz
Red’s Grace

Red is what I call a “propinquity” dog, he shows affection by being close, rather than by being demonstrative. He has never licked me but once a day he comes and puts his head on my knee. Otherwise, we are just always near one another.

Red has paid little or no attention to Gus. He tolerates him and doesn’t bother him in any, but he never even lets on that he sees him. Red does not play, which frustrates Gus, but then he and Fate play half the day.

I’ve never really seen Red and Gus together, they seem to always stay out of one another’s way.

Last night, a first. Gus was sleeping on his bed in my study and Red came in, lay down next to him and put his head next to Gus. Gus put his head up and licked Red on the nose several times, and then went back to sleep. it was a touching scene for me, Red showing his love for Gus in the way that he does, and Gus, sensing it, sleeping so peacefully right next to him.

I was grateful to have the camera nearby, it was an important moment somehow, Gus keeps bringing himself directly into the center of our family and our lives. Red is a remarkable animal, he loves with the greatest dignity and grace.


  1. A very touching scene indeed! I think this may be my favorite Gus story so far. Red just might surprise you and begin to play with Gus too one day.

  2. It’s wonderful to see two dogs showing affection for one another. My dog and her sister play hard and rough but when get tired (which takes a long time!), they lay next to each other licking each other’s faces and ears before going to sleep.

  3. Jon, this photo is so quietly strong and beautiful. Thank you for sharing it. And thank you for allowing a space for me to tell you that.

    1. Thanks for the good words, Heidi, and thanks for being here…I love the idea of strong and beautiful..

  4. I love what this photo exemplifies. I read your blog often to help me maintain a perspective on life and find a little peace and happiness. Extending grace to one another, whether animal or human, is always a good thing to practice and spread around. It makes the world better.

  5. Red reminds of my beloved Pomeranian, Chance, who passed away last year at the age of 20.

    Like Red, Chance never licked or jumped on me. He was never wildly demonstrative in affection, but he was a constant presence, usually sleeping or following on my feet.

    Chance was a wonderful and easy dog to photograph because of his tendency to gaze lovingly and steadily into my eyes (or the camera lens). No man ever looked at me in quite the same way.

    Chance was (like Red) accepting of other animals, but he did not play with or greatly interact with them. He just liked to be near them.

    I never trained Chance to be a therapy dog, but he would have been marvelous as such. He liked to be held and rocked like a baby. In his last two years, Chance loved being wheeled to Central Park in his doggie stroller — like a baby.

    But, like the trooper he was (even as a little senior citizen), he would walk the distance back home from the park. “I can do this!” his eager eyes would say — even on old, failing legs.

    Chance (like Red) was a very special dog as he was the epitome of love, loyalty and devotion. He was all the more amazing for the fact he had been branded as “severely aggressive” and condemned to die at NYC’s Animal Care and Control ten years earlier. I had to sign a bite waiver and promise not to adopt him out to a member of the public in order to rescue him.

  6. This photo is beautiful. It reminds me that people, too, have different ways of showing affection/love for each other. Not everyone is touchy or demonstrative. Thanks for sharing this!

  7. This photo took my breath away!! It means so much to capture such feeling with one click of the camera. Gus has also won Red’s beautiful heart, too!

  8. This photo brings tears to my eyes! I have followed your stories for many years and it seems that Red is truly one of a kind. We should all be so blessed to be adopted by a dog like him.

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