Today we made the hard choice. Today we said goodbye. Today we grieve.
Bruno, one of our beloved beasts, took ill earlier this week with something that the vets could not diagnose. They took x-rays and drew blood. "Maybe it is an infection" had turned into "Maybe it is meningitis or maybe it is a brain tumor" in a matter of hours. I have come to understand that veterinarian medicine is a science of maybes. We will not ever know what killed our boy, but seeing him laying in a metal cage, tubes of fluids and medications being pumped into his veins while his tongue hung, dry to the touch, from his mouth, a look that would normally have elicited a smile from my face, this morning gave me only grief. It made us say, "Yes, please put him to sleep."
The vet and the techs were all very nice and kind. They gave us time with him to say our goodbyes. They cast his paw in clay to give us a memento. The thoughtful tech cut a lock from his hair and gave it to me. Dave and I both looked at each other wondering what we were to do with a lock of his hair, especially when every surface of our house is covered in a light layer of Bruno's constantly shedding fur. As I type the housekeeper is sweeping up the last remnants of Bruno's fur from every corner of the house. He has gone, and we have but memories, a grimy collar, and a clay pawrint to remind us that he was here.
I first met Bruno nearly nine years ago on my first date with Dave. The first thing Bruno did was punch me with his paw. Bruno, and his brother Bat, were the guardians at the gate for my relationship with Dave. Had I not been a dog person, had I not immediately adored both of them, I would have been out on my ear with no invitation for a second date. Bat, who had a penchant for chewing on my underwear, passed away shortly after Dave and I moved in together.
Bruno, an enormous beast weighing nearly 120lbs and the size of a Shetland pony, was to be the cornerstone of our ever-growing family of beasts, and yet he was never to rise to the ranks of alpha dog. He was to outlive, but never out rank Miska, the brilliant shepherd that died suddenly when she was three; nor Angel Bear, the spoiled trust fund bearing golden retriever I inherited from my grandmother. He was to serve as straight man to the antics of our two labretards, Jack and Sally, occasionally trying to bully them to see him as their lord and master, only to discover that they take no one, including him seriously.
Bruno was Dave's "best boy," the mascot for his band, and his favourite, even though parents are not supposed to have favourites amongst their children. Moreover, while I will grieve the loss of one of my children, Dave will grieve for him the most. It is Dave who will wake in the middle of the night and step gingerly around the phantom dog sleeping on the floor next to his side of the bed. It is Dave who has truly lost his best friend today.