Thursday, June 11, 2009

In Memory of Bruno: February 1994 - June 2009:

We Love You Bruno

What is life, anyway, that it means so much?
A dog's life.
I always thought that between life and death
I would always choose life...
...But I knew there was no choice
What is death, anyway, that it means so much?
A dog's death.

I wrote those words many years ago. The sentiment is still relevant today. Last evening we had to make a very difficult decision. At the vet's office, we decided to let go of our most wonderful, unique, loving, and faithful dog, Bruno.

One of his favorite places - The Beaches of PTown

Bruno came into our life in a way that we always believed was fortuitous. After our last dog, Moose (aka "Bo") died, we were dog-less for a while, then decided it was time to adopt. We looked at dogs from the classifieds, at the dog pound, at the kennel. None of them, cute though they were, seemed to click with either Leon or me. We put our search on hold for a while.

One Sunday afternoon in May, 1994, Leon and I decided to take a walk through the wooded park where we used to take Moose. We were reminiscing about old Moose as we walked and feeling OK about our decision to wait a while longer before getting another dog. As we were driving out of the park we saw a young couple with four puppies playing in the grass. We pulled over, parked the truck, and got out to see the pups. One Rottweiler runt, two Spaniels and one Black Lab. As cute as they all were, we were immediately drawn to the Lab. We chatted with the guy and the young woman who was a dog breeder, visiting from Massachusetts.

After playing with the pup for a while we hesitantly asked,
"Could we buy this little guy?"
The young woman replied,
"Well, he's not for sale, he was the runt of the litter and he's not show quality."
"Oh", we said, and continued loving the lab for a while longer.
Then the young woman spoke,
"You seem like nice guys. I'd consider letting him go if you really want him."
"How much?" we asked.
"One hundred."
"Wait right here," I said, "I'll be right back. There's an ATM up the street."

The hundred bucks gave us adoptive rights to Bruno (aka "Bagel"), a collar, a leash and a small supply of puppy food. Two weeks later the young woman showed up at our house unexpectedly. Bruno had the run of the place with the door propped open so he could go out as needed. He was a happy puppy and the breeder lady seemed pleased. She said she always likes to visit the home of puppies she adopts out, just to be sure they are in a good home. I guess we got her blessing...the rest is history.

Bruno never had training. He always pooped in the woods, usually behind a bush for privacy. He never ran off and was almost always off leash. He had to be coaxed to eat until, in his old age, he began to eat anything, anytime, even vegetables. He hated fireworks and thunder and he would tremble and pace until it was over. He hated the vacuum cleaner and would gladly go outside till you were done.

Oh, to roll in the sand is heavenly!

He absolutely loved to swim at the beach or at the lake or river. His favorite places were Herring Cove, Race Point, the Ledges and the Rock River.

Water, water, everywhere!

I love "Drive on Beach" in PTown

Speaking of rocks, he had a rock fetish. Bruno loved swimming after the splash of rocks thrown in the water. He could do that for hours and would bark and nudge if you were laying on the beach trying to get some rays until you got up and went down to the water's edge to throw rocks. His next best thing was hiking and camping. At the gay campgrounds we went to, Leon and I were mostly known as 'Bruno's parents". He got to travel with us all over the east coast and as far west as Arizona.

Land of Snakes is what the other sign said

This posing with two dads is tedious

What kind of ranch did you say this is?

Hiking in Arizona

The sky's the limit

A rainy day at the beach is better than a sunny day at work

Camping with my dads

The beach again - can't ever get enough

Illinois was, well, Illinois

Not just a cat's privilege

Birthday what?

Sometimes you just have to go with it

Snow just shows off my figure so well, don't you think?

Trick or Treat? Wake me when it's time for crackers

I guess the toy basket is good for something

Bruno went to work with Leon every day until recently. Work consisted of watching the Van or "playing speed bump" in customer's driveways. He got to hobnob with uppity dogs from the classiest neighborhoods, including the governor's dog. He would sniff-out long-lost balls in customers' pachysandra. He chased squirrels and chipmunks but never caught one. He never bit anyone or any living thing. He loved to fetch sticks when hiking in the woods, but pretty much ignored sticks at the beach or lake.

His best friend was Dude, Joyce and Robin's dog who was the only dog he really ever played with. Once, when Bruno was still a pup, he and Dude were tangled up in what looked like a dog fight. It looked like Dude had Bruno by the throat. We were all terrified until Leon realized that Dude's tooth was caught in Bruno's collar which was a choker. Quick thinking Leon ran to get a pair of scissors and cut off the collar. Bruno was unharmed and Dude was relieved to be freed. From that point on, they were the best of friends.

And they thought I wouldn't make it to PTown this year!

After 15 blessed years, on the evening of June 10, we said good-bye to Bruno. The vet and the assistants were very compassionate; we asked if the euthanasia could be done outdoors as Bruno always hated being in the exam room and would keep his nose planted at the door the whole time unless he was on the exam table. Last evening was no exception. Even more so, he wanted out. The vet was very agreeable, saying that they occasionally went out on the back lawn. They brought out a nice quilt to lay on the ground and we brought Bruno's blanket from the car. Bruno was much more content being outdoors as were Leon and I. We're an outdoor family.

He laid down on the blanket very peacefully. Good-bye, Bruno, we love you lots.

Memorial Day Weekend, 2009

Bruno on the Trail August 2008 - almost a year before he died.


  1. Nobody loves you like your mama and your dog. My little Rocky died Nov. of '07 and I still miss him every day. All my sympathies to you guys.

  2. Thanks, Russ. We appreciate the sentiment.

  3. Hello, my name is Mary and I happened upon Bruno's story by accident. I have been laughing and crying reading all of his stories and enjoying looking at his precious face. I sure hope you guys have found a new buddy to love because you seem like great parents and Bruno seems like he was treated like a king. If their is a new addition I sure hope you blog about them as I truly enjoyed your writing!

  4. Thank you Mary. We have not adopted another pup yet, but we are registered with a Lab Rescue organization and we are waiting for a new pup to find us. Will re-post this with a little movie here next.



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