He was my first German Shorthair. In fact, he was my first dog since I was a kid growing up in Phoenix. When we arrived at the Rescue, he was one of three other dogs in one of the large open kennels. He was the one in the back, shy and uncertain of himself, reserved and more than a little lost-looking. I said, “That one.” I was told he was a 10-month old boy who’d arrived as “Brutus.” He clearly wasn’t a Brutus, having been turned in by the previous owner because he had “some issues,” like fear of loud noises (such as guns), fear of cars, fear of water…all of which endeared me to him even more. I didn’t need a hunting dog or a swimming companion, and I was certain we could work out the car thing.
So we adopted Bruno.
True, he had all those issues, but he was nevertheless, a born hunter. So I let him hunt. On his terms. On leash, I’d watch him stealthily stalk the neighborhood pigeons and cats, taking five, sometimes ten minutes on his approach. With the cats, it’d be a stare-down, and I’m sure he’d have won if I didn’t call him off after he’d gotten within a few feet. I’d coax him into the car, which he tolerated, and take him out to Fiesta Island or Sweetwater Canyon, where off-leash he was free to run for miles, hunting down anything that moved—from rabbits and squirrels to tiny desert mice and lizards. He’d even try to take down the giant white egrets, until he learned he couldn’t fly like them.
Despite his phobias, he had no fear in the field. He jumped wide gullies like a gazelle. He scaled canyon walls like a mountain goat. He leapt over bushes like a kangaroo. He was truly beautiful to behold.
With patience, gentle words and perseverance, we eventually got him take baths.
In time, he learned to enjoy riding in cars. He even tolerated being on top of cars.
He was a stoic old soul from the day he arrived, but he wasn’t lacking in puppyness. In his youth, he demolished at least six remote controls, countless rare books and an entire mattress pad (after first rolling the bedcovers off the foot of the bed). We ran circles around the house together. He loved chasing bubbles. Every Christmas, he’d evicerate every single one of the dozen second-hand stuffed animals I presented him—all wrapped up in a big box with gift wrap and ribbons.
He caught a nasty case of cholla cactus one spring in the Borrego Desert and still kept running.
He never did get over his fear of loud noises though, and in his later years even developed an aversion to my sneezes. He wouldn’t bolt exactly. He’d just quietly head for the dog door, as if to say, “I’ll just step outside for a bit, if you don’t mind.
“He met up with a Pizza Hut delivery truck one night when the fireworks took us unawares, suffering a collapsed lung the vet was certain would be his undoing, but the boy wasn’t ready to go. He rebounded in a couple weeks and went on chasing down lizards and mice at Fiesta Island for another several years.
He had a great marriage. Uta arrived a year after Bruno. Typical of some relationships, they hated each other on first sight. They bickered, sulked and just generally avoided each other. After a couple of weeks though, they could stand to be in the same room together without arguing, and eventually they were sleeping together.
Also typical of some long-term marriages, they eventually slept in separate rooms—Bruno on his couch (and it was his couch as he very pointedly let every other dog ever in the house know) and Uta in her bed next to mine. They’d become the Desi and Lucy of Pointerdom.
Bruno and Uta were my favorite photography models. I developed my Blurry Dog style with them, tracking them endlessly as they explored the world they lived in, capturing images even I couldn’t quite explain. Bruno was my modeling assistant in holiday cards, year after year.
Bruno was responsible for my getting involved with the Rescue, which led to my involvement with this website. The website owes its existence to Bruno.
Uta passed away in February 2011. Afterwards, Bruno, albeit grudgingly, shared his home with several foster dogs. He would let them know who was in charge, then he’d try to make nice and play with them. The new dogs were never completely trusting of him after his cool welcome, but then Bruno was always an independent, aloof kind of guy, so I doubt he really resented their indifference.
If his records are accurate, Bruno was born on July 28, 1998. He passed away a day after the Summer Solstice, June 22, 2012, just over a month shy of his 14th birthday. I was certain I’d never be able to carry on without him. But Bruno’s passing was surely a relief and a release to him, who had become increasingly disabled from degenerative myelopathy. I believe that because, once he’d taken the first dose of doggy morphine (here at his home, on his favorite outdoor lounge cushion) and was in a deep, relaxed sleep, his tail was wagging ever so imperceptibly. It was his way of saying, “Oh, that feels sooo gooood. Thank you.”
No, thank you, Bruno. You gave me unconditional trust and love. You helped me get through so many difficult times, insisting I take you and Uta out for a walk, which was the very thing I’d needed to get me out of my funk. You brought to the house an energy that will permeate it forever. I’ll never be able to replace you, but I can share the true and noble spirit you leave behind, helping foster dogs in transition feel safe and comfortable and loved until they find their new homes.
Volunteer since 1999