When I was four years old my parents and I picked out our first family dog. We drove for hours until we arrived at the dog breeder’s house where we went down into the basement to meet all the puppies. Although I was young, I remember the day as if it were yesterday. All the pups were in a small room in the basement playing with each other, except for one who sat at the gate and watched my family. There is a saying that you do not pick your dog, your dog picks you. With my experience, I believe it. There he sat, the newest addition to our family, Bruno.
Recently, as a college student, I was asked to write a paper on someone the we used to be, but no longer are. The paper had to be based off of a picture. The picture that I chose was taken on the day we picked Bruno up to take home with us. A little, four-year-old version of me with pig tails and a frilly dress sits on the stairs of the basement, cuddled up with a teddy bear. At the bottom of the photograph, there is a set of hands holding our tiny black lab puppy next to me. My face is burrowed into my teddy bear with just my eyes sticking out at the top, peeking over Bruno next to me. Despite being extremely excited to get a dog, the picture does not show it because I was jealous. My father took a picture and held our new puppy first and I was not happy with that. Being the youngest child in the family, I had a tendency to be a bit of a brat when it came to getting what I wanted.
Looking back at this photograph today and thinking about all the memories made over the past fifteen years brings me to tears. I am reminded of all the days that I took having my dog for granted. It brings me back to summers swimming in the pool, non-stop playing fetch and even his begging and panting at the table while we ate. Most of the time, Bruno was, as we nicknamed him, a mouthy. He liked to pester, beg and he loved to jump on the counters to steal a loaf of bread. He demanded to play fetch, barked when the Patriot’s scored a touchdown and refused to eat his breakfast without a splash of milk in it. If Bruno taught me one thing, it would be to always be persistent, after all, we would eventually end up throwing him the ball and getting caught in his never-ending game of fetch. At the end of last semester, Bruno sadly passed away after being hit by a car right down the street from our house. At this point in my life, the picture is accompanied with many different emotions. I feel happiness because I was blessed with the best dog anyone could ask for and got to spend my entire childhood growing up with him. At the same time, I feel sadness because my years of making memories with him have come to an abrupt ending that no one had expected.
Although everyone understands that dogs have a shorter lifespan than people do, you never truly know just how much happiness a pet brings into each day until they are gone. Mentally, my family had been somewhat prepared that Bruno did not have many years left, being fifteen he had already surpassed the average dog lifespan. However, I had not been prepared for him to pass away from anything other than old age. It is hard to think that had he not escaped the yard, he would have still been in our home. I would not be here writing a paper about my memories with him. A few months back, I read an article about a little boy who had to put down his dog. The family wondered why animal lives are shorter than human lives. The little boy answered with “I know why, people are born so that they can learn how to live a good life- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right? Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long”. There is no doubt that Bruno loved everybody and loved life with us. He never failed to make us smile and laugh, to watch the fort while we were not home and most importantly to love us unconditionally every single day for fifteen years. For this, I want to thank my dog for growing up with me. I would not be the person I am today if I did not have you.
Rest in the sweetest peace with all the treats, tennis balls and of course never-ending love from your family here at home. We will always love and cherish the memories we made together. We love and miss you.