6 December

Disgusto. I Thought You Should Know.

by Jon Katz

As is obvious by now, we love Gus and are delighted to have him. I’ve put up a score of photos and stories about how cute he is, how wonderful he is, and how interesting small dogs are. Lest  you think this is all cute, i have to tell you something.

Gus is disgusting.

I have sworn to be honest, and also open here on the blog, so I think I must also write that as much as we love him,  Gus is not only disgusting, he is perhaps the most disgusting dog I have ever lived with. He makes Lenore, or loving and late Lab, seem like a Paris dilettante in comparison, and Lenore would eat just about anything. Gus makes her look like a picky eater.

Gus eats any vile thing he can get his mouth on – donkey manure, dog feces, bits of rotten wood, chicken droppings, sheep feces, garbage. He eats stuff so foul I can hardly bear to look at it or smell it. Gus is an affectionate dog, a licker and cuddler, but many times I have to say, “not today, not after what you ate!

Twice a week, I have to lean over and pull something long and awful out of his butt, and more than once I have come across him eating or licking fresh dog feces, still steaming (sorry). This, I have to say, is not uncommon to the breed (he is a Boston Terrier) but disgustingness isn’t something that comes up all that often in the literature and oh-so-helpful websites Bostons and how endearing they are.

“Oh yes,” one Boston lover told me in town the other day, “they are all like that.” Thanks for telling me.

They are endearing, and we do love Gus. But is isn’t all adorable, for sure. He is continuously spitting up and vomiting the gross things he wolfs down all day.  Sometimes, he just retches and gags for amusement, nothing comes out. We’ve asked the vet about this, and she laughs. Oh yes, say the Boston Terrier lovers, they are all like that, there is no way of stopping them.

But perhaps ways of slowing them down. We have tried some things to put in the other dogs food to make it less appetizing to Gus, and are experimenting with different food and diets. Gus loves to snuggle in bed with us in the mornings, the breed is also notorious for that.

And once or twice a week, he also loves to spit up revolting things right on the bed, if we are not alert to enough to hear him gulping and gagging and toss him out of bed. We are getting good at this. In the morning, when he picks up a giant ball of donkey manure, I yell “leave it,” and he usually does, after gulping down some good chunks. God knows what he is eating when I’m not looking.

Inside, he will eat balls of dog and cat fur, chunks of wood from the logs, bits of plastic or tissues from the bathroom.

Some of that is puppy stuff, and will ease.

Some of that is just what Boston Terriers do.

“Oh sure,” chuckled Jamie at the Farmer’s Market, who loves his Boston Terrier madly, and then listed the many trips his dog has made to the hospital because of the dreadful things he had eaten. Jamie thought this was a riot. Small dog owners are different.

Gus, it seems will eat just about everything (and no, he doesn’t have worms. Because of their size, they don’t have the digestive systems of larger dogs, so there is much burping and farting and gulping as he tries to process the gross things he loves to eat.

When I got Gus, one of the reasons was that I wanted to learn about small dogs. And I am.

Gus is a forager, a ratter and he lives quite close to the ground. On a farm, that is a great place to be for a dog that will eat anything. We are beginning to realize that his disgusting side is not really a phase, the other Boston Terrier owners we know just nod their heads, and say yes, they really can be disgusting dogs.

I thought you should know.


  1. Growing up, we had a dachshund that would do the same thing.. He eventually ate so many rocks that he had to have surgery to remove them.

  2. This had me cracking up. I have never had a small dog, but my late, much loved Chocolate Lab must have wanted to be one, because he was the most vile pet I have ever had. Ate poop fresh from our other Lab. Poor guy would try to hide to do his business without being stalked. Deer poop, horse poop and I’m sure many other poops. Had a penchant for swallowing socks whole. I can’t tell you how many times I had to “help” him on the other end with one of those. Ate a six bar pack of Irish Spring soap while staying at my in-laws. I only know the brand because he threw up soap and wrapper for the next two days. One day he ate a bad poop (or many) and threw up poop all over the house. I can’t begin to explain the smell. I slept on our porch in a lounge chair with him that night because I just couldn’t take cleaning it up anymore. All this said, I adored him and miss him terribly. (Though not enough to have another Chocolate Lab. I will stick with yellow and black.)

    Just think, Gus will be gifting you with a whole host of stories for the foreseeable future. You will love him, even if you can’t stand his breath.

  3. My Jamie eats stones.,,.often when I let him out in the yard for last call, I have to go out after him so he’ll stop eating them. Every now and then I find a little pile that he’s thrown up and always on the white carpet,,, and then of course pick up the poop that consists mostly of small stones in a row. I am just grateful that they travel thru and don’t clog up

  4. This is the funniest thing you have written and I loved it! Living on a farm with nine dogs, I am constantly exposed to this kind of disgustingness but I had no idea Bostons were so serious about it!! 😂

  5. Ah, yes! It must be a Pug thing, too! I am a groomer and our Pug Badger will sort through the clumps of hair that land on tne floor, finding tne ones that have poo or caked urine, or dried eye goobers. Our previous Pug ate our Boxer’s poop, actually following him around the dog yard, waiting.
    Since you have donkeys, as do we, and their feet get trimmed by the farrier, be sure Gus–or the Border Collies–do not help themselves to hoof trimmings. A friend’s Am.Staf would snack on them and one pierced his intestines, requiring massive surgery and worry. We love our “disgusting little dog”, but sometimes… 😊

  6. Thanks for the honest information. I’m looking at various small dog breeds for my next dog and a Boston was on my list of possibilities! Having had to pay for 2 expensive surgeries to relieve my current Airedale of things she ate that wouldn’t go through her intestinal tract, I shall keep this info about Boston Terriers in mind. But, my goodness, he IS cute, even if he is disgusting!

  7. I couldn’t stop laughing the whole time I was reading this. We have dogs and cats and they have a huge yard, 3/4 of an acre. All the dogs love looking for the cat poop. They eat it and roll in it. It’s hard to understand.

  8. Thanks so much Jon. This had me laughing all morning! A Lab mix is of ours would steal goose eggs in the spring, bury them, dig them up in AUGUST, break them open and roll in them. You can only imagine how that smelled!

  9. Love the portrait of Gus! Guess all dogs have their quirks! Laughed the whole time I was reading this. My wife and I had two goldens and never had this problem but I heard they like to roll in dead stuff!
    Good luck Jon! He’s cute as hell!

  10. Welcome to the life of Gus – who is a typical Boston Terrier. But – I know you will admit that this is one of the reasons you love him so much. I thought I would throw up every time my precious little girl BT would eat a mouse, mole, etc that the cats brought to the house. she did out grow it —– for the most part. I just love the way Gus has taken over your lives! You will have many years of grand happiness with Gus in your life.

  11. Oh my gosh, I laughed so hard while I was reading this article! Thanks Jon, for telling it like it is. As a pet owner myself, I can totally relate.

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