Bruno is home in a box. To me it is immaterial, ashes in a box. Scattered ashes. Ashes here, ashes there. It doesn't matter. I never quite understood the concern with bodies after death. Embalming, wakes, funerals, burial, cemeteries.
I used to visit my grandmother's grave and bring flowers on holidays and holydays. One night I had a dream. Grandma asked me, "Why do you come to my grave? You are a young man with a life to live. I am just an old, dead woman. I don't need flowers." I never went back to the gravesite after that dream. I never felt the need.
We considered burying Bruno somewhere on our 2.75 acres but it is mostly woods and solid rock. Even the vegetable garden can only be dug to a few feet, if that. Cremation was the only alternative.
Now he is in a nice wooden box on the floor below the TV stand. I don't have the heart to put him on a shelf or table. He was definitely a floor dog. But now he is just ashes in a box. It's actually a bit heavy. We haven't opened it. It's up to Leon what to do with the box and its contents. It's immaterial to me, ashes in a box.
I still get teary-eyed when those Brunie moments sneak up on me.
My sister sent Leon and I this email which I think is so beautiful, heartfelt and which I will cherish:
June 21, 2010
Dear Frank and Leon,
Although I knew this was coming, I was so surprised to see these photos and the message of Bruno's death. I feel like that little girl who watched the Lassie films. Even though I knew that Lassie would be O.K. in the end, I would always cry when things went badly for him.
Fortunately for Bruno, things went very well because he had two friends who truly were devoted to him - along with all of us, who loved him.
Yes, I believe there is no part of creation that does not reflect the goodness of God.
I know this is an especially hard time for you and you, along with Bruno, are in my thoughts and prayers.
Meanwhile, life goes on.
The incessant rain has given a boost to the reproductive capabilities or survival rate of the common slug. A snail without a home. Slimy things that leave a sticky layer on your skin that has to be scrubbed hard to remove. They have been feasting on everything from Marigolds, pansies and petunias to peppers and basil. They obviously don't care for weeds, however.
Pepper plant with slug damage.
The cactus garden looks more like a jungle
The Prickly Pears are late this year. These flower buds have another week or more before blossoming
Swiss Chard is doing OK
As are the Zucchini and Corn
The Beans had a rough start
The Tomatoes are doing OK with the cool rainy weather, but the peppers haven't grown an inch. They like it HOT.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 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.
"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
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.