For the love of Bruce

I have been meaning to post on our latest adventures, but most are unfinished due to circumstances beyond our control, namely the fact that our family dog of nearly 15 years has been on a steady decline over the last year, and in particular these last two months. We thought we might be able to get him to pull out of his downward spiral, but alas such was not the case. While his body was super fit, his mind deteriorated to the point of no return, and required us to end his suffering and therefore “put him down” in the most compassionate way we could. Knowing it was the right thing to do didn’t make it any easier. In simple terms. It SUCKED! It has been a little over two weeks since his passing, and while we knew this day would come, it was not an easy decision for our family. He was our daughter’s first and longest living pet ( if you don’t count the hairless mouse “Rufus”, a hummingbird, two fighting hamsters, a rooster “Leonard”, and a herd of snails in a shoe box). We had to put our first dog (4 year old 125 lb Doberman Pincher) down when our daughter was less than 6 months old, due to an accident he had jumping down an embankment at full speed, Paul swore we would never have another dog.Along comes this runt of the litter, who had been adopted and then returned, and then adopted once more by my wily, and convincing daughter. She was 10 years old at the time, and had decided at the age of 8 to become a Veterinarian (she is now a VetTech). Having gone through a plethora of “pets”, she convinced Paul to allow the adoption of a brown 2lb, 8 week old Rat Terrier/Chihuahua mix into our household, by pleading, “How am I ever going to become a Vet if I have never had a pet!” While he reminded her of the assortment of “pets” she had brought into the house over the years, she confidently replied, that those “didn’t count”. The puppy, who our daughter named ‘Bruce’, was allowed on the condition that Paul would have nothing to do with the dog, to include: petting, feeding, or cleaning up after him.  As evidence of the picture below…that didn’t happen.IMG_20170624_181513299_HDR

Anyhoo…The “deal” brokered, Bruce entered our family. It is amazing how such a little dog, who failed to realize, or behave as a small statured dog can have such an impact on our family.  He was a burly and fit dog.

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He also was quite the ornery dog, having outlived his cancer diagnosis by nearly 6 months. What started out as bladder cancer moved to his brain, and thus began his “sundowners” (doggie alzheimers) and endless Zoolander imitation of only right turns and similar expressions. We wrestled with the decision for probably longer than we should have, for obvious selfish reasons, of false hope in a miraculous recovery, as the rest of his body was completely fit. Sadly “Elvis” had left the building several weeks ago, as he failed to respond to his name, rarely wagged his tail, and when not sleeping, eating or drinking would spin himself in ever tightening circles till he fell over or ran into something. To let this go on any longer would have just been cruel, so we set a date (still hoping for a miracle), and the day came. We spent it together as a family in tears, laughter and simple silence as we remembered the events that made Bruce, Bruce Almighty…and “Brucifer”

IMG_20171013_140411699While Bruce barely stood 10 inches tall and was 10 lbs sopping wet, he honestly believed he was, and therefore acted like, a BIG dog. He was large and In-Charge. So much so that he “ran” the street we lived on. Our neighbors referred to him as “The Mayor”. Often, he would squeeze through each neighbor’s front gate and inspect (and ”mark”) their yards on his daily, (and often, unaccompanied) “walks” from our yard, having escaped through and/or under our fence when we were not home. Our previous dog (a 125lb Doberman) would have been proud of Bruce and his Houdini talents. (Our Doberman had figured out how to open the latch on our front gate in order to make his “rounds” when we were out. Later when he was relegated to the garage, when we’d leave for work, he not only figured out how to open the garage door, but also how to close it. As such, he would be home “sitting pretty”, and “angelic” when we returned home.) He was too smart for his own good. Bruce was the same, which makes me wonder if a dog’s soul gets recycled. Now Bruce couldn’t reach the latch, nor squeeze through slats on the gate, or back fencing (after we shored that up), but somehow he figured out how to leap and climb the 2ft tall chicken wire to squeeze through the bars of the fence, so that he could still make his “rounds”. He took his “mayorship” seriously. He had a neighborhood to patrol, and “homebound” friends to visit. When we raised the height of the caged barrier, he tunneled under it, cleverly disguising his hole by rolling a tennis ball into the indentation of dirt, when he left, and upon his return. It was only when our daughter was home sick from school one day, that we discovered his craftiness. While moaning on the couch and wondering where her dog, that was supposed to be comforting her, was, she spied Bruce as he appeared in the neighbors yard. She watched, as he calmly shimmied under the fence and then rolled an adjacent tennis ball into the “hole”, and then trotted triumphantly back inside the house for a drink and a snack. As well as being an escape artist he was a ball chasing maniac. He would chase and retrieve a full sized tennis ball till his paws bled (if you let him). He would torment and literally mock our neighbor’s Yellow Lab (Jake) when his owner (Russ) would throw Jake’s giant tennis ball down the street. Once Bruce heard the wet “thump” of Jake’s ball on the pavement, Bruce would scratch and bark at the gate till we could “release the hound”. He would follow after Jake “smack-barking” in his face as Jake returned the ball to be thrown again. We imagined his “smack-barking” going something like this…”Dude, how you letting a little old dog beat you to the ball? Didn’t eat your kibble this morning, huh? Your big ol paws too sore? What kind of retriever are you?”. As “The Mayor” he had quite the influence on the neighborhood dogs. He even “talked” Jadie, another neighborhood Lab to pull marinating steaks off the counter of our next door neighbors (and eat them), in order to teach them (our neighbors) a lesson about keeping their garage door open. When the kids were younger and the neighborhood was filled with young families and kids, we would often play “home run derby” in front of our house. Bruce was always on the batter’s team, for once he got the ball, he would run like the wind, weaving with superior agility between every fielder (child and adult) as his “teammate” would run the bases. Often we would need to have three whiffle balls just to be able to play the game without serious interruption from Bruce and his superior fielding. Our Doberman was known to do the same thing, except the kids weren’t brave enough to chase him. Like our Doberman, he took particular delight in making male teenagers scream like “girls”, especially if they were on a skateboard. They both hated skateboarders, and made it their duty to ensure the CCRs of no skateboarding allowed, was enforced to it’s fullest. Nothing like having a furry “missile” racing toward your feet, barking ferociously for you to get off your skateboard, post haste. He was also not particularly fond of German Shepherds (with the exception of Desi, with whom he was in “love” with) or smushed faced dogs, and he let them know it. Most of all, Bruce was a great companion. When our daughter went to college, he essentially became “our” dog, a duty he took seriously as well. He insisted on sleeping in our bed (with us), as he was athletic enough to leap up onto our raised bed (no matter how many times we kicked him off). For the life of us, we could not figure out how this 10lb marvel could manage to take up so much space that we would awake at the respective edges of our bed. Interestingly enough, our Doberman would do the same thing, which further lends to my theory of “recycled” (family specific) dog souls. During the last year of his life, his athleticism declined to the point that he slept most of the day, and in the evening, on an old down blanket at the foot of our bed. When both our kids were in college, Bruce joined us on most of our outings. Although he was small, he was able to walk 6 miles-a-day, requiring only a nap, before insisting on a round of ball chasing.

He insisted on checking his neighborhood “pee-mail” each morning once I had my morning cup of coffee.

He loved road trips.IMG_20171024_152056552_HDRHe was a well loved, and traveled dog.

He was fearless. On our hunting trip to Wyoming, he took it upon himself to “shoo” away a lone cow who had wandered into our camp. Suddenly this massive bovine (compared to Bruce) was running in a serpentine pattern to escape the “wrath” of a LBD (Little Brown Dog) who was barking and nipping at its hooves as I followed (laugh-crying) in an effort to intercept Bruce before the cow could turn and stomp him to death. As luck would have it, the cow came to an abrupt stop, and the two met nose to nose. And, to my amazement, they sniffed at each other. Having caught up, I quickly picked up Bruce, as the cow turned and walked away up over the knoll, where its “friends” had been watching.

He was enamored by elk, deer and pronghorn. He was the family “sentry”. He was a remarkable dog that has left a lasting impression on us, and our family was better for having him in our lives.IMG_20170626_194939_431Rest in Peace our furry friend.

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9 Responses to For the love of Bruce

  1. Jody Kummer says:

    Bruce was one of only a few dogs that our dog Russell tolerated. It was funny when we firs first met Bruce as a puppy he would bark and growl at us. But after spending a weekend we became best friends.

  2. Brian says:

    Great tribute to Bruce. Classic photo of Bruce and Russell in Wyoming after “exchanging” dog beds. He certainly knew how to run things his way. Take care.

  3. Lucy Lulu says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. Our canine family members definitely become critical souls in our family units. I just wanted to take a moment, and say that I really enjoyed reading your tribute to Bruce. It made me smile, laugh, and I may have even have shed a very slight tear. 🙂

  4. Marion Brown says:

    I am so sorry Bruce has passed away. He was quite a dog and the boss of your street. I’ll miss him.

  5. Paul H Mills says:

    A wonderful tribute 525, et.al.! To Mighty Bruce’s memory and his impact on your lives!

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