Wet Nose, Warm Heart

I’m a day or two behind but no matter – I’m still hanging in there to this Writing 101 exercise. Still flexing the pen muscles and working to make a habit of this writing lark. Today, we’re onto characters. And what better place than this to speak of the biggest character (figuratively and literally) to make an impact on my life this year. I’ve spoken of this fellow before – here where I first talked about his arrival, and here where his disgust at getting the broken toy was my theme. So clearly this is a well-worn path already, but nevertheless we’re going back to this particular well one more time:



Bruno’s arrival was unexpected, uninvited and largely unplanned. I say largely because an arrival of sorts had been planned, just not his. ‘Bruno’ was intended to be female and of good breeding and provenance, with her arrival timed towards the beginning of the school summer vacation. But Bruno clearly had other plans. He saw a door not quite latched and wedged his furry foot firmly. With canine wiles he found the lap most willing and settled down. This lap belonged to my wife.

An emailed picture and the deed was set, despite all assertions and protestations to the contrary.

“He’s just coming to visit,” was the first step.

“He needs somewhere with more room, just ‘til he’s adopted,” was the second step.

“If you don’t want him, I can take him back to the shelter’” was the third and ultimately final step.

By this point a 7 week old puppy had been in our house for three weeks or so, and my carefully laid plans for a German Shorthaired Pointer – a little girl at that – were iced for the next several years at best. Bruno – the cuckoo in the nest – had arrived. And like any other cuckoo, he rapidly asserted his ownership of everything in the house, much to the disgust of our resident old girl, Kizzie. She was far too well-mannered to deal with a young upstart from the streets, and so she did her best to ignore his presence. But then he proceeded to destroy her toys, steal her people and sleep in her bed. Goldilocks has nothing on Bruno.

He also grew. Rapidly. On walks, two main conversation points heard were, “What is he, exactly?” followed almost inevitably by, “Look at his paws. He’s going to be huge!”

Bruno’s DNA is hard to distinguish. He has the markings of a Doberman and the temperament of a hound. He bays like a bloodhound at anything, he is happiest laying on the deck on a hot, sultry summer’s day (picture any Deep South movie. Can you see the old hound on the verandah? That’s Bruno). He’s clearly got a good nose – it is rivalled in size only by an anteater – and he can sniff out a pair of (clean) socks from any gym bag or pair of shoes. He also has a taste for apples, and on many occasions has helped himself to a healthy snack from the fruit bowl.

At eight months he is tall enough to lift his nose and sniff at kitchen counter height. He now stands a foot taller than Kizzie, who admittedly is a pretty tiny Labrador, but is a Labrador nonetheless. For the longest time, Bruno had no control over his legs; they were far too long and too remote from his pea-sized brain to be under anything other than minimal central control. On several occasions he simply tripped over his own feet and did a spectacular face-plant.

His goofiness is part of his charm, for sure. He reminds me of the big goofy kids in school. The nice-but-dims who would go buy the booze for you, then wonder why their heads felt funny after a few shots. His naivety is a huge part of his charm – his fascination with ants; his complete frustration with any bird (he particularly hates crows); his bravado when terrified out of his wits by a new noise or a sudden movement.

It’s the little things that ingratiate a person or a pet into our hearts, that take them from an acquaintance to a friend to a lifelong companion.

Soft old mutt. That’s me by the way. Not him.


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