Alexandria, VA – Meet Hugo Booker Theodore Neumann III, but you can just call him Hugo. Hugo is part German Shepard, part Golden Retriever, part American Staffordshire Terrier, Chow, and “dog.” He is a goofy yet serious fella with striking eyes and a big furry tail.
Hugo is a friendly pup who loves people. If you give him a belly rub, he might love you even more. A good treat will also do. His favorite treats are Nubz and Zukes, in case you are wondering. He enjoys a good rawhide on occasion, too.
Perhaps what he loves most of all though, are his squirrel toys. Hugo got his very first stuffed squirrel toy from Olde Town School for Dogs. He still has it and it’s still intact. He keeps all his toys in a box in the living room and pulls them out when he wants to play. He hasn’t learned to put them away yet.
As you may have heard, Hugo is not a huge fan of Rufus. Grrr! You met him last month. Something about Rufus just rubs Hugo the wrong way. While both dogs get along with everyone else at the dog park, their owners have had to work out an arrangement when Hugo and Rufus are there at the same time.
He’s also not a fan of people who bang on the door or approach the house and make noise, especially if they weren’t invited. Hugo has a loud bark. He’ll let you know he’s there. He’s got a routine, and that’s the way he likes it. He doesn’t tolerate delays in his walks, and he certainly doesn’t tolerate being ignored.
Dave Neumann and Calaneet Balas found Hugo through Lucky Dog Rescue. They had looked for a long time, trying to find the perfect pup. They originally had their eyes on a different dog, but when they went to the adoption event, he lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. They immediately knew that dog wasn’t the one.
“Within eyesight of that dog was Hugo, and pretty quickly we landed on him,” says Dave. “He just had this personality. We wanted vibrant, outgoing, and fun. And that was Hugo.”
Dave met Calaneet when she lived on Capitol Hill. He was living in Huntington at the time. It didn’t take long before Dave moved to an apartment near Calaneet, and then eventually, they moved in together. They ultimately decided to move to Old Town Alexandria because, “well, bucket list, really” says Calaneet. “It was on both of our independent fantasies of places we wanted to live,” agrees Dave.
Dave is an IT executive, and an avid cyclist and gardener. Calaneet is president and CEO of the ALS Association and chair of The International Alliance of ALS/MND (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis/Motor Neurone Disease) Associations. “It’s an honor for me to run this fabulous organization that supports people all over the country. We support research and advocacy,” says Calaneet.
She feels that living in Old Town and having Hugo provides balance to the stress and intensity. “It helps me relax, having a really important job because of what we do and the people we serve, that then I get to be here and walk the dog.”
They were still living on Capitol Hill when they brought Hugo home. He was very shy at the time. Dave initially had to pick Hugo up to get him in the car, and Hugo is not a small dog. In those days, Hugo was afraid of walking on tiles of any kind, crossing the street, and being around cars.
After about a month, they left him at home for an hour and a half. When they got back, they found that Hugo had torn apart the entire couch. He literally tore the arm off.
“Now you have to remember, Dave is a New Yorker” recalls Calaneet. “Dave walks in, he looks around—I mean, there is foam everywhere. He’d torn apart my pajama pants, he’d torn apart a couple of pillows, everywhere, and Dave just walks in, doesn’t say a word, walks into the bedroom, changes his clothes, walks outside, poured a bourbon, and sits down. And said nothing.”
Dave and Calaneet bought a kennel.
”Good news! We’ve gotten past the chewing phase.” says Calaneet. Hugo still stays in his kennel, but they no longer need to lock the door.
These days, Hugo is a big, adventurous, gregarious goof, and a daily regular at the 5 O’Clock Dog Club.