This handsome fellow entered our life, with lots of positive vibes to offer, in 2004. The years followed with Bruno becoming the star of the household. He was my anchor when I was dealing with peer pressure during my rocky teenage years. His eyes always reassuringly said “It’s okay to fall baby, just get up”.
In my quest to have a stable career, I started working at the age of 16. This was the time when I started to neglect my fitness. End result – I gained a little fat here and there. My family, especially my brother, told me not to neglect my health, but of course, I paid no heed. I always made sure to good take care of Bruno. He was a healthy dog because I can neglect my fitness but never his.
In 2015, Bruno- then 10 years old- ended up with a severe ear infection and started falling because the fungal infection reached his inner ear. I remember I was in the middle of a class (I run a language institute from home). Immediately, I asked my students to leave early so that I can take Bruno to the vet. I didn’t realize that will be a huge challenge.
We struggled our way to the car. I was certain that, from here, Bruno would jump in and it will be a smooth ride to the vet. Little did I know, the struggle had just begun. For the very first time, Bruno wasn’t able to hop onto the car seat, as he did in the past. Till that day, I never had to pick him up. Even at the vet’s clinic, he used to co-operate and we never picked him up to put him on the examination table.
I had to pick him up, for the first time in 10 years. I picked a 35 kg unwell dog. He yelped because he knew I was struggling. I consoled him saying, “baby, don’t worry, we can get past this”.
He recovered in a month. But in this month, I had to carry him around a lot and I struggled. In his eyes, I could see the pain. It pained him to see me struggle. My Bruno can endure anything but he can’t see me cry. And that’s when the thought crept in – I need to be fit and strong, if not for me, for him. I announced in the house that I do not want to him to hurt. I don’t want him to feel that he is a burden to me (which happens a lot in ageing dogs).
The following month, I started weight training. With time I got fitter and more prepared for his old age. I was sure, that I was ready to support him now that I am fit and strong. I was ready to pick him up every time he fell. What I didn’t realize is, I won’t ever be ready for his old age. I won’t ever be ready to lose him.
Now, he is almost 13, his hind legs are loosing strength. We often need to help him stand. I am physically capable of that now. But, I wasn’t ready to see him fall. I wasn’t ready to say, “It’s okay to fall baby, just get up”. He always played that role better.
One Saturday, when I went to pick him up, I saw him struggling to get up on his own. I couldn’t stop myself from crying. He just looked up at me and licked my tears. We held each other and cried together until he miraculously got up on his own- not for himself, but for me.
We stood by each other – during my troubled teenage and his slippery old age, in fatness and fitness, in sickness and in health. He held me when I needed it the most and now I try doing it to the best of my ability. But I know, it’s always Bruno, who will hold me up. It will always be Bruno who will be the anchor.
Note: Vishaka lost Bruno last year. When she sent in her story she opined that she doesn’t ‘want the focus on his death as much as the beautiful life he gave’ her.