Last month it was Fritz’s 5th birthday, and today is another big day: Bruno is TEN years old! I guess ten is considered a “senior” age for dogs, but Bruno is still every bit a puppy as he was when we first brought him home. In fact, that’s Bruno’s most-used nickname: Puppy. Puppy! Baby Puppy. Our little Bruno.
It’s hard for me to write anything at all about Bruno without getting super emotional, because he really is the best thing that’s every happened to me and Evan. I know everyone says their dog is the greatest dog, but I’ll go ahead and say it about Bruno anyway. He truly is the absolute best. Bruno is the most gentle dog you could ever meet, so emotional and loving and super-sensitive and in need of attention (and happy to give that attention back, too). He’s so special. He’s never been a chewer or difficult or anything like that, and it’s certainly not because of anything Evan and I did when he was a puppy—he’s just wired that way.
I’ve never written about this before (and I rarely talk about it privately), but the story of how Bruno came to live with us ten years ago is more than a little bit shameful. He comes from a pet store in Brooklyn, and before he was in that pet store, he was born at a puppy mill in Wisconsin. Yeah. And we paid money to the pet store, perpetuating a terrible cycle of animal abuse all in the name of an impulse buy. And we knew better. I had spent years doing rat and ferret rescue work, and I was well aware of the horrors of puppy mills and of the pet store industry. It’s a terrible, terrible business. I knew that then, and I know that now.
But there we were, in that pet store, not even planning to bring home a dog…and there he was, all fluffy and black-nosed and roly-poly. We picked him up, pet him, put him back, and started to leave. And then someone else picked him up, and we froze. That was our dog. Not theirs. It was immediate and desperate and impulsive, but we plunked down a credit card and walked out of the store with a tiny, whiny Chichon: A long-haired Chihuahua crossed with a Bichon Frise, eight weeks old and three pounds soaking wet. Our dog.
I’m long over feeling guilty. We’ve spent a decade with Bruno sleeping in our bed and licking our faces and begging for treats, and we love him more than anything. I’ll never buy a dog from a pet store again, but I don’t regret buying Bruno—not for a single second. After all, he’s the best dog in the entire world.
These are my favorite Bruno snaps from the past year…
BRUNO FACTS: He’s a dirty dog, always. Except when he’s fresh out of the bath, which he hates with a passion. He despises being groomed, but loves all the attention he gets when he’s nice and clean. He’ll eat anything. If it’s edible, he wants it. Even lettuce. The only tricks (if you can even call them that) he knows are “circus puppy” and “go show Mommy/Daddy.” He has perfectly straight teeth. Rod Stewart is his haircut idol. His favorite songs are “Baby Elephant Walk” and “Alley Cat.” He loves old-fashioned car horns and Justin Bieber.
It’s not the best photo because digital cameras kind of sucked back then, but this is Bruno on the day he came home with us. We still have his pig.