A Breaking Heart Still Beats

He’d become a member of our family when our trusty Lab, Lucca was around 7 or 8 years old. To that end, under Lucca’s tutelage he’d gained some Retriever personality traits and had a warmth about him not often seen in the sometimes-independent Sheppard breed. Those of you familiar with my essays will recall my article about Lucca’s passing just a few short years ago.  

Bruno_3When Lucca died, I can honestly say that Bruno’s personality changed. He drew closer to me but also more skittish and insecure. My wife and I had often marveled that when the occasion occurred that the two of them found a way to break out of the fenced-in backyard, we always found them together. It could be hours later and sure enough when we’d spot one, the other was right there. I wasn’t sure if it was Lucca watching Bruno or Bruno following Lucca, but I can tell you when I would find them and yell their names, they would both come running to the car so happy to see me and glad to get home.

A year or so after Lucca’s passing, Bruno began to tremble and pace during thunderstorms. He would wake in the middle of the night, insisting to go outside and then once out there, just stand there and look back at me.  He’d pace the back fence sometimes without provocation as if Lucca was out somewhere and might still be coming home all that time later. Then he’d run to me as if to ask me, “Have you seen him yet because I haven’t?” He mourned a long time for his trusted partner. We had talked about getting a second dog primarily to cure his apparent loneliness, but the right fit was hard to find. 

Bruno_4And now it would be so neat and easy to say he’s back with Lucca in that special place that God holds open for once-loved pets, but his passing is not just as neat and simple as that. I know Bruno, like every dog I ever had the honor to own, was given all of the love my heart had in it as my blind affection for things that cannot speak for themselves is a basic part of my overall make up (i.e., infants, elderly). He died knowing how I felt so I am settled with that. But the fact is Bruno was added to our family because my son wanted a dog of his choosing. Sam was about 8 when Bruno was 6 weeks and I watched them grow up together. I watched Sam emulate my behaviors with Lucca as he was getting to know his dog Bruno. I heard the excitement in his voice when his dog would come bounding towards him when he got home from school. I saw the pride in his face when he’d teach him a simple trick or when his friends would see this majestic beast and ask, “Sam, that’s your dog?” I’d see him lay his head on the dog’s chest and use it as a pillow while he watched television and most importantly, I’d see him laugh when his dog would do those silly things that dogs often do that make them so irresistibly lovable. “Bruno, how did you get that bucket stuck on your head? Come here, I’ll help you.”

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