Last week we had the heartbreaking experience of putting our old dog, Brutus, down. He had been ill for a couple months and eventually, all his medication stopped working. We didn’t do any tests but it was most likely bone cancer in his spine given his symptoms.
We adopted Brutus about 15 months go from our local humane society. They tried to pass him off as 4 years old but he was definitely 8 or 9. We didn’t care though, we love dobermans and jumped at the chance to add another one to our family. Poppy was less than pleased. Eventually they became pleasant companions and enjoyed digging mice and voles together. Brutus was so sweet. He came to our shelter from L.A., California and had definitely had a rough life. He was full of lumps and bumps and bones that had been broken and never set. He had a gimpy leg from some arthritis but he never let any of that slow him down. His favorite thing to do was run and explore. Every morning when we went out to feed the horse he would take off for his favorite sage brush field and have the time of his life hunting sage birds and voles. When it was time to come in, all you had to do was whistle real loud and he would come running. Sometimes, when Brutus would sleep he would have bad dreams. Dreams so bad that he would wake up in a burst of growling and ferociousness that scared us and Poppy to death the first time it happened. Once he woke up, he would shake his head as if to rid himself of the dream and settle back down. When we realized that he was only dreaming, probably of terrors from his past life, we would gently wake him when he started to get upset and eventually, he had fewer and fewer nightmares.
Brutus taught Poppy a lot of life skills. Like how to get along – when Poppy would steal the bed he wanted, he would just lay right on top of her with the most innocent look in his eyes. And how to not be the center of attention – he had the ability to ignore things I can only hope to emulate one day. And how to open trash cans and get out the particularly tasty wrappers – a skill I’m sure was useful as a street dog.
Brutus also taught me a lot of life skills. Like how to stay calm under pressure. And how to shake off the bad things that happen in life. And just do what you feel – like if it’s hot outside, jump in the canal and cool off. And how to comfort those that we love – while I was uncomfortably pregnant Brutus would leave the comfort of his bed (and he LOVED his bed and blanket) and come lay by me on the floor. Every night. He taught me what loyalty is – He didn’t sleep hardly at all while I was in the hospital and tried to jump into my arms when I finally came home with the baby. The most important lesson Brutus taught me was to enjoy the ride. That dog loved cars more than is normal. Any chance he got, he would jump in the car. He always enjoyed the ride.
Old Champ, I hope your heaven is a sage brush field full of voles, sage grouse, and pheasants for you to chase. I also hope God can whistle real loud so you know when it’s time to call off the chase and come get some dinner. I also hope there’s an old ranchero for you to sit in in the summer time and a canal you can take a dip in when you need to cool off. We love you.