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Farewell Gus

Gus Hendry
2002 – 2011

Gus throughout his life was challenged by some medical issues that he finally got a break from just a few weeks ago. His owner, partner, combatant, challenger lol Trish had shared so many great times with Gus, he is sorely missed.
He was always a man that liked to have things just his way, right till the end, you have to admire his self belief. Below is a story Trish wrote for me a while ago when I first met Gus, I thought it a great time to share it with you all.



I’ve had dogs all my life. Gus is my first GSD. I had always wanted to own this breed but for various reasons hadn’t managed to be lucky enough.

At last….Gus was bought as a puppy seven years ago. Dutifully as I had for all my previous dogs, I commenced obedience training in my area. Nothing major occurred that sent any red flags up for me. I had seriously gone about teaching him manners with other dogs. He was not aggressive towards other dogs, but it became clear while he may not start the fight, he would also not back down if one presented itself. He was too “mouthy” in my opinion, but I thought I’d work that out. He would bark a lot in class in a talking fashion, to me it always sounded like he was complaining. He progressed well and when we made it to “novice” I stopped. It was clear I wasn’t getting the best out of him as a trainer and he would not do well with me if I wanted to progress any further. He didn’t want to know agility when I introduced him to that.

At home a problem was becoming apparent with his barking at visitors. We have low front windows and he enjoyed “surveying the perimeter” from the lounge room. It seemed that the coming and going of my visitors was becoming more of a “breech of the perimeter” to Gus. I tried lots of methods over the years to stop this behavior. I paid for professional help. Nothing was long acting. So instead of fixing the problem, I worked around the problem….someone came to the door, Gus would get up to the glass and act like “Cujo”, I would call him to go into my room and close the door. He continued to sound like a raving lunatic.

If I had visitors and he was allowed out eventually of the room, we had the problem in reverse if he sensed they were going. So I had to put him away first. Gus had become very aggressive sounding in these circumstances.

When he was castrated the vet told me he had lunged at the cage when they went to get him out in the morning. The vet told me he was a “fear biter”. His file was duly noted and he had to be muzzled from then on with them. A new vet came, was very patient with him, built up trust and with me and her handling him, he was never an issue and didn’t require a muzzle even when he was having his vaccinations.

I attempted to take Gus to a kennel last year and I was called back before I had left 5 minutes. Gus had nipped the handler and when they put him in a run, he barked aggressively at them. The kennel didn’t want to know, told me to come and get him. No discussion.

Two years ago, Gus got in a panic situation and had bitten my brother-in-law on the arm.

Yes he was now causing me lots of issues. Under pressure, given certain circumstances, Gus was going to “have a go”!

I had always said I would never keep a dog that attempted to or did bite anyone. However, deep down I needed to be sure that euthanizing this dog was doing the right thing. I rang the breeder and she had heard of this guy Steve Courtney, maybe he could help?

August last year I sent the most valuable email I have ever sent in my life….to Steve.

I had a really good “feel” about what I was doing right from the start. Everything was so professional. No “quick fix” promises were made, just a plan offered in a calm professional manner with dates for a consultation set up.

I was bowled over on my first encounter with Steve. His whole approach indicates the level of knowledge he has which becomes more apparent after you sit down and he starts “anaylyzing the patient” (both of us!!). It is clear now that he started the process the moment he set eyes on us up at the gate. Every move, every gesture, every word, all assessed and calculated by him. I gave him the laugh of the week I am sure when I proudly stated in my email that I felt I was 80% the alpha to my dog, but this remaining 20% was a problem. I did email Steve the day after our consult to ask if he had stopped laughing yet, and that “yes” it was quite apparent to me now that I had ZERO alpha status over my GSD!

But you know, Steve never made me feel like an idiot. He never patronized me or spoke down to me. The choices to rehabilitate Gus were offered to me and if I chose to go into this partnership with Steve, he would commit to it 100%.

Driving home to Sydney that afternoon from Kurrajong, I had gone from despair to elation. I was so enthusiastic to get home and start Steve’s programme and finally be the owner that Gus needed me to be.

It has been a lot of work. Lots of changes had to be made. Gus is a “Rank Driven” GSD. He has been relentless in challenging me with implementing these changes. When asked to do something, I can still be met with a “why”. But no matter what setback we have had since August last year, I have always been met with answers from “calm” Steve, who lays it all out, takes the emotion out of play, and leads me again in the right direction. Always showing me the positives, always providing practical and moral support and afterwards I always feel the problem resolved.

I did email my progress consistently….you have to. This is where Steve keeps track of his plan…that you aren’t moving away unknowingly from it. When something went wrong, he always had an answer on how to remedy the situation.

It is this feedback that enabled me to get through the difficult patches and minor setbacks and remember the goal. How many other trainers care this much in between their professionally paid visits. Steve cares. That is it…he cares about the outcome for you and your dog.

We are close to achieving my goal with Gus. The ability to stay at a kennel was the last “can’t” that Steve had me cross of the list he told me to make.

Gus has just got back from Triple Crown Kennels in Londonderry. After a very rocky start and a Steve intervention the next day, Gus relaxed and learn’t that he was there to stay for the duration. I have to say though, Fiona and Mario were amazing and wanted only one thing from this troublesome GSD….to ensure that he could stay with them in the future happy and content. They cared about his welfare. That was their maximum focus.

Steve has assisted me in turning around a seven year old GSD’s behaviour.

Gus is polite and has manners.
Gus no longer owns my house. He does not patrol the perimeter unless I need him to check something out in the middle of the night.
Gus does not display any Cujo behaviour when visitors come. He sits quietly in his crate, or goes outside quietly.
Gus no longer barks continuously in the car.
If Gus is in the house, he sits only on his mat and does not wander around.
We are close to solving the Kennel issue completely.

My relationship with Steve will not end here. I intend never to have these problems again and will enroll any future puppies I have with Steve so the pup and I can get on the right road from the beginning.

If you have a problem with your big dog, little dog, whatever it is…… Do yourself and your dog a huge favour….stop thinking and email Steve now. If only I hadn’t waited 6and half years!!!!!

Thank you Steve for your professionalism, your caring and your support.

Trish Hendry

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