For the first ten years of his life, Bruno belonged somewhere. I’m not sure what those circumstances were or how he went from belongingness to stray, but he did. He must have been on his own for a long time. Either that or he was neglected and dumped. No pup looks like this without a very sorry backstory.

When Bruno was found

We didn’t rescue Bruno, not then. Someone else with a heart for dogs down on their luck took him in. She healed his body and got his trust back and so the time came to find him a home. Only that first one didn’t work out, nor did the second. And that is when Bruno came to us. We figured he just needed a little more time to heal mentally and the farm would give him the space to do that.

Not sure where he belongs

I can only imagine what that time of transition was like for Bruno. We know him so well now! We know that beneath his natural air of reserve lies the heart of a steadfast loyalist. But we were just sorting him out then, and he us. We didn’t have a fixed time for that to happen, but as fate would have it, we were given one. Shortly after Bruno came to us, he was diagnosed as heartworm positive and his best chance of cure, given the grade of his diagnosis was the “high kill” method. That meant six months of intense treatment and watchful care.

Anyone who has been through that treatment with a dog will tell you what I will tell you right now — it is not for sissies. It is a near death experience for the dog and a full-time caretaking role for the human. For six months. We hardly knew Bruno, but we were committed to seeing him through this. Also worried. Does he trust us enough to let us handle him in his pain? Will the strict confinement turn him into a wild man?

A very sick pup, tied to his mama

We got through it but not without some battle scars and also, naturally, not without becoming deeply bonded — he to us and we to him. That should have been the end of Bruno’s Rescue Story; yet another foster fail at the Alexander home for misfits. But there was something else we learned from that time together and that is how much Bruno thrived on his one-on-one attention. In general, that is something hard to get on a reliable basis around here. I couldn’t shake the feeling that Bruno deserved the chance to have his very own person.

We found that person in Pat, a proudly independent woman in her 90’s who had lost her dog to old age and now found that, due to her own age, no one would place a dog with her. Bruno was everything to Pat. She doted on him and was rarely without him. She shaped her life around him. He, in exchange, was her steady wingman. Pat and I kept a regular correspondence where she would wax on about Bruno’s fine attributes and latest adventures. I told her stories from the farm. About a year after placing Bruno, Gordy and I visited Pat (who lived some distance away). Bruno was happy to see us, but made it perfectly clear where he belonged — or more accurately, who he belonged with.

Standing guard

Earlier this year, Pat experienced a series of health events that took her away from Bruno. After the first event, she went home and — against doctor’s orders — insisted that Bruno come home to her. One day, while walking Bruno, she fell and that set in motion cascading events that eventually took Pat from us. Her daughter had become quite fond of Bruno, but her life circumstances were not a match. She asked what we had always promised — for Bruno to return.

I was sad, so sad, and also delighted and a bit nervous. We had asked so much of that pup and now here we were, asking again. He was older — thirteen now — a bit grumpier and, as we learned, totally deaf. Would he be okay in the chaos of farm life after his quiet, devoted existence with Pat? Oh, please still like us, Bruno.

Bruno, coming home

Some of the dogs were the same: Marco, Sophie, Monroe, Maizey, and Giada Some were new to Bruno: Muppet, Gigi, Tootsie. He remembered his friends and was willing enough to entertain friendship with the new ones. He had a hard time understanding that Tootsie couldn’t see and, therefore, adequately respect his boundaries. He has solved that by giving her a growling reference for his location when she is steering too close. It works. He is devoted to his humans, but we clearly move around more than Pat did which means he often “loses” us, requiring him to plod from room to room until we have been located.

We never knew Bruno’s breeding. We had considered him a Wheaten Terrier mix, but after he came home to us, we did his DNA for real. It turns out, Bruno is 40% Chow Chow, a breed I understand is known for their air of aloofness, but steadfast loyalty to their humans. That fits exactly.

We are so very grateful to have Bruno back in our lives, though the circumstances still make me cry. I hope that Bruno has years left to live, good years. We work on ways to give him the special attention that he became accustomed to, that he deserves. I think he is happy here and I hope that he knows this is it — he will never go somewhere else again which is why we can honestly say now and forever, this is Bruno’s Rescue Story.

A circle of friends


I have written about Bruno before; quite a few times, actually. If you want the long version of Bruno’s Rescue Story, here are the links to those posts, in order:

Bruno, Guaranteed

Sometimes, it’s Lemons

Day One

Mistakes Made, Lessons Learned

How Love Works

Have a Heart (On being Worthy of a Dog)

Writing about what sings to me from a life made full with animals.

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