By David Dickson
Gizmo, a 90-pound marshmallow of a dog, who dreams about snuggling the way other dogs dream about cheeseburgers, knows how to make an impression. He leans! Whenever a tour group visits, Gizmo scans the crowd and soon picks out the first lucky soul to receive his kingly gift. "If he leans against you, you know he loves you," says caregiver Maddie Haydon.
However, even though he certainly knows how to make a person feel special, it's not exactly a rare honor. He's anything but picky about whom he wants to befriend. "He goes up to every single person," Maddie adds.
Cuddling in overtime
There's something utterly unforgettable about a dog his size so completely determined to show affection by the bucketful. "He's just a big mush face," Maddie says. "Volunteers love him."
In fact, Gizmo's meet-and-greet leaning technique is only the beginning. He soaks up affection at every opportunity. Perhaps nowhere is he more in his element than on sleepovers. "He likes to sleep next to people on the bed," Maddie says. "People love that he's so cuddly."
Gizmo - or Giz, for short - came to Best Friends from another rescue after his family could no longer care for him. He's in his senior years, but still quite active. In fact, he's active enough that he likes playing a certain keep-away game in order to receive even more attention, with the possibility of a few treats to boot.
In a rather ingenious strategic maneuver, Giz has figured out how to bump the radio off a caregiver's hip with his head. At that point, he grabs the device and runs around until treats are brought out as a fair trade. Sure, it's a tad mischievous, but how could anybody stay mad at a face like that?
What's not to love?
Mischief notwithstanding, Gizmo was chosen recently as Dog of the Month in his building. Everybody who meets Giz falls in love with him, and that includes people in town who rarely make it up to the Sanctuary. "Practically everybody in town knows who he is," Maddie says.
You see, Gizmo goes for town outings on a regular basis. He's become about as well-known as anybody in all the local hangout spots. Volunteers are amazed when they take him on an outing. They're constantly greeted by Gizmo's legion of fans and friends. "People wave at him all the time," Maddie points out. Want to feel like an instant celebrity? Simply take Gizmo on a day trip near the Sanctuary.
Someday, hopefully sooner rather than later, the right person is going to fall in love who can take Gizmo home for good. Until then, he's determined to give his leanin'-and-lovin' treatment to everybody he meets. Once you've met Gizmo, a simple tail wag hello may never quite cut it for you again.
If you'd like to take a Best Friends dog on a sleepover for your next visit, perhaps even take His Royal Snuggles (Gizmo), visit here to find out how.
Photos by Molly Wald