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Goudacris Beats Heartworm and Finds His Chicago Family


A mixed-breed brown and white dog named Goudacris curls up asleep on the couch.

A Chicago-based animal rescue recently helped a sweet, silly, mixed-breed dog named Goudacris survive a months-long battle with heartworm. One Tail at a Time took in this 82-pound gentle giant more than six months ago from a shelter in Tennessee. 

In a true underdog story, Goudacris made a full recovery from this serious disease, took an Embark Dog DNA Test to solve the mystery behind his unique breed mix, and found his forever home!

Photo of Goudacris courtesy of One Tail at a Time.

Goudacris arrives in Chicago

Originally named Flash, Goudacris arrived at One Tail at a Time (OTAT) in Chicago, Illinois in May 2023. The staff at OTAT gave him a new name.

“We choose names that are silly or funny or ‘out there,’” says Kim Thomas, Marketing Manager at One Tail at a Time. “We try not to repeat any names, so sometimes our staff gets creative and puts a songwriter and a cheese together. It’s so fun—and it makes a name more memorable.”

Goudacris (nicknamed Gouda) had been diagnosed with heartworm. He was transferred to OTAT because they have a robust program for treating heartworm-positive dogs. The staff hoped that after treatment, Gouda would be adoption ready.

Photos of Goudacris courtesy of One Tail at a Time.

Goudacris battles heartworm

During his stay with One Tail at a Time, Goudacris underwent the long process of heartworm treatment. It involved multiple injections over several months.

During heartworm treatment, and for six months after, Goudacris had to limit his physical activity. It was crucial that he kept a balanced resting heart rate. If he got too excited or his heart rate went up, it could dislodge the worms, which would be life threatening. That meant that he couldn’t run, jump, or play with other dogs while his treatment was in progress.

To keep his zoomies at bay, the staff at OTAT kept Goudacris busy with enrichment tools, like food puzzles and snuffle mats. These toys helped him burn off his extra energy while also giving him some mental stimulation

“As high-energy as he is, he’s also a complete snuggle bear,” Kim says. “Everyone refers to him as a weighted blanket. He loves to be on your lap. He’s a really great, silly, sweet dog.”

Goudacris also enjoys wearing costumes. Last Halloween, he dressed up as a chicken.

Photo of Goudacris courtesy of One Tail at a Time.

Now that he has finished his heartworm treatment, Goudacris will be retested. Once he’s officially negative, he’ll be cleared to run as much as he wants.

Goudacris tests with Embark

Embark recently donated dog DNA tests to animal shelters across the country, including One Tail at a Time. Goudacris took one of these Embark tests, which finally solved the mystery of his breed mix. 

Goudacris is a unique combination of German Shepherd Dog, Mountain Cur, Akita, Labrador Retriever, and several other breeds. His foster family said they see his whip-smart German Shepherd nature come out when he’s solving food puzzles. His goofy Lab nature emerges when he acts as a friendly “weighted blanket” for all his favorite humans. 

Goudacris’ Embark breed ancestry results.

What’s in that Supermutt? Goudacris’ Supermutt percentage may contain small amounts of DNA from these distant ancestors:

Goudacris finds his forever home

Once Goudacris finished his heartworm treatment and his breed mix mystery was solved, he was more than ready to find his family. We’re happy to share that Goudacris was adopted in January 2024! He has found his forever home with Elizabeth and Dan.

Goudacris riding home with his new family. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Blackwell.

“Gouda is settling in wonderfully,” Elizabeth and Dan tell us. “He’s such a sweet, goofy guy who loves walks and playing with toys as much as he loves a nap in the sun. He is a genius at puzzles, he loves a good snuffle mat, and he loves lounging and watching rabbits run through the yard.”

Gouda is the second dog the couple has adopted from One Tail at a Time. “They’re so great about providing support throughout the heartworm treatment process and they work hard to make sure all of our questions are answered,” Elizabeth says.

“Gouda has been enjoying car rides and couch snuggles—he definitely thinks he’s an 80-pound lap dog!”

As he gets settled into his new home, it’s clear that Goudacris is still a snuggle bear at heart. 

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Mimi Padmabandu Contributor

Mimi Padmabandu is a scientific writer and Content Strategy Lead at Embark Veterinary. She has over a decade of experience writing about science and genomics for leading biotechnology companies. She holds a bachelor's degree in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology from UCLA and a master’s degree in Early Modern English Literature from King’s College London.

Read more about Mimi Padmabandu

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