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Meet Gio, the Little Lover Boy

Gio is a little dog with a big heart. He weighs in at less than 10 pounds — 9.8 pounds to be exact — but he has enough love for a dog 10 times his size, said his owner, Rose Broderick. 


“He’s a lover boy,” Broderick said. “He loves people.”


Broderick adopted Gio, a long-haired Chihuahua, from a foster rescue group in December 2017 when he was just a puppy. She didn’t know it at the time, but she was about to experience a long stretch of some serious health problems.


A few weeks after she adopted Gio, Broderick experienced severe vertigo that kept her mostly in bed for about four weeks. In March 2018, she underwent an MRI that uncovered a brain aneurysm requiring surgery. Then, in July of that year, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.


“Ever since I’ve had Gio, I’ve been sick,” she said. “He kept me moving” through the difficult periods.


For Broderick, Gio has become an emotional support dog of sorts, motivating her when she isn’t necessarily feeling well. While she hasn’t experienced too many of the physical signs and symptoms of multiple sclerosis, some days can be difficult. 


“The mornings are tough for me,” she said. “You have to keep pushing yourself, and he’s the one who keeps me moving.”


Gio recently had surgery himself after eating something he shouldn’t have. He’s on the mend and will be back to his old self soon, but Broderick said it has been a little bit of a role reversal for the two of them, since he’s always been the one to support her.


It isn’t just Broderick that Gio gets to love. Her mother is in a nursing home, and Broderick received permission from the staff to bring Gio in for visits, which the residents love as much as he does.


“He loves it,” she said of his nursing home visits. “He’s a people lover. He loves sitting on their lap and getting pet.”


For Broderick, having Gio at home is a big change from her previous dog, a 240-pound English mastiff. 


“The little ones are way more high maintenance,” she joked about the difference between owning big dogs and little dogs. 


Just one example of Gio’s high-maintenance attitude: He sleeps in bed with his head on the pillow, just like a human. And just like many people, he hates the sound of the alarm clock.


“When the alarm goes off, he rolls overs and looks at me like, ‘Really? You need to turn that thing off.’”


Even with his small stature, Gio likes to hang with the big dogs. Soon after Broderick adopted him, a friend with a black lab came for a visit with his 90-pound dog.


“Gio got on her back and she just carried him everywhere,” she said. 


He even picked up a few habits during the visit. When the lab got a treat of cheese after going to the bathroom outside, Gio insisted that he needed a treat too. 


“Still to this day he has to have cheese when he goes to the bathroom,” she said. 


Through their time together, Gio has become part of Broderick’s family. She jokes with her adult daughters that Gio is their brother. She knows it may seem silly to some, and even she never saw herself becoming this attached, but Gio has done a lot for 

her well-being, motivating her to keep going.


“I never thought I was be a crazy dog lady like that,” she joked. 


(Photos by Chad Merda)

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ABOUT THIS PROJECT

Gio is one of the many fabulous pooches from the Forest Preserve District of Will County's dog parks who will be featured in our 2020 dog park calendar. All proceeds go to the Will County Humane Society.


The calendars are $15, with approximately $10 from each sale going to the humane society. Calendars are no longer for sale; the deadline to order was Wednesday, November 7, 2019.


We'll be highlighting some of the dogs' incredible stories here, but if you want a sneak peek at all of the dogs' wonderful photoshoots, follow them on Instagram at Today's Pooch.