Bruno, Birds, Bar Stools and Bee Stings

September 3, 2019

What can you say about an 11-pound ball of fur who is so full of anxiety that a Valium that could “take down a horse” in the words of his vet, was intimidated, that is if Valium were capable of feelings, and thus rendered useless? Bruno is my dog, though a couple of my brothers would argue that he is a rodent. One brother defines a REAL dog as one “who can kill me but chooses not to.” Bruno came to me through a rescue organization. I am a strong proponent of dog rescue. I will not go to a breeder. I am not here to disparage those who use breeders, but I would rather share my home with a creature who otherwise might end up euthanized. Plus, there are some adorable pups to be found and usually they are so grateful to be chosen. It’s as if they possess a sixth sense that this may be their last chance. My family and I have always had pets. At one time, we had two dogs and four cats. Hats off to my husband, the saintly one, because he was deathly allergic to cats and yet tolerated these annoying little shitheads for several years. I do love kittens, but when they grow into cats, I almost want to lock my door at night because I fear they are plotting my death. Cats are never grateful. They have a sense of entitlement that annoys the crap out of me. “Oh, you’re home? Get me dinner, now, bitch.” (I know all my cat-owner friends and relatives are now hissing at me. You have always known this about me, so quit whining. Try becoming cold and unfeeling like your cats.) Whereas with dogs, you’re gone for ten minutes to take a shower and they are overjoyed that “you came back, Mommy, you came back!” Bruno’s sense of abandonment is palpable. When I return home, it takes me several minutes to talk him off the cliff and get his blood pressure down to a non-life-threatening level with assurances that “Mommy isn’t going anywhere else today.”

About six months before my husband died, we had to make the difficult decision to put down our final pet, a 15-year-old long-haired Chihuahua, who was both blind and incontinent, and frankly miserable. But he was my hubby’s buddy. In fact, we had a standing joke. I had said to him: “Gun to your head, you, the dog, and I are stranded on a desert island and you could only save one of us, whom would you choose?” He thought for a moment and said with a not well disguised smirk “well, you’ve had a good life.” I think I told him he was an asshole after that and possibly withheld sex, but you get the picture—he loved that damn dog. I had seen the dog’s deterioration while my husband was recuperating in rehab, but I wanted him to make the decision. And as painful as it was, it was pretty easy—and obvious. The animal was suffering and deserved not to be. And frankly for me, as my husband’s caregiver, one less burden made things a bit easier for all concerned. So, a few days later, we gave him a peaceful end to a good life and shed some tears at his absence. Not seeing him in his favorite spot on my hub’s lap was a bit of a shock and in retrospect in some small way prepared me for my husband’s absence a few short months later. To those without four-legged family members, you will never understand the huge presence and comfort our pets provide and when they leave us the profound void that remains.

Now for Bruno, a nine-year-old short-haired Chihuahua. My daughter found him on a rescue site she and I had both been trolling. I had been widowed for about a year and the timing was good. But I kept trying to talk myself out of it. Owning a dog is a commitment. I will give this to cats – they are easier, smarter, and cleaner. Dogs require walking, an outside space to “do their business” and they generally enjoy/require human interaction. Ultimately, after meeting Bruno and being interviewed by the rescue folks, I knew I had to have him. The only problem was that there were at least four other families who were of the same mind. In the end, my charming and guileless personality won them over. Or did I get the pity vote? Or was it because Bruno seemed to need someone who would be there for him more than they were able? It certainly wasn’t by what the rescue people witnessed. Bruno wouldn’t even look at me. He was petrified. Somehow, once I was chosen and they brought him to his new home, it didn’t take long (read 18 hours) for Bruno to warm up to his new Mommy. Either I’m a cheap date, or he is just that needy. I choose to believe the latter, though some of my former boyfriends might argue the first, but that’s for a different discussion and vodka will need to be involved – but I digress.

Because I adopted a rescue, I have little to no information on Bruno (a Chihuahua who believes he is a Rottweiler) and his history, which means I can’t put my finger on or formulate a theory as to why he is so neurotic. The irony is that while other dogs freak out over thunder, lightning, fireworks and other loud noises, Bruno is totally CHILL. He simply doesn’t care, in fact, he seems fascinated by it. BUT, if I leave for a few hours, he loses his shit – sometimes literally. The separation anxiety is unmistakable. There are times it wears on me and I want to yell at him to calm the hell down, but I realize that won’t help but will rather compound his problem. The bottom line is I love the little dude. He is a diva in so many ways. Yes, he sleeps in my bed. He has his own pillow and doesn’t move all night. Sometimes he snores and it’s adorable. I’m not sure why I didn’t feel that way about my hub’s snoring; oh, that’s right, his snoring was akin to the sound of a herd of buffalo running across a frozen fjord during a hurricane while dragging a thousand cinder blocks behind them. Bruno’s is more like a cute little vibrating chirp. His favorite place is on my lap. If I am reading, he may suddenly decide that he’s done with that and will use his head to push the book or Kindle out of the way so that I can give all my attention to him. If I am on my laptop, for instance, writing my blog, the same thing may happen, though his method of showing his annoyance is to nip at my thigh. He’s a turd, but he’s my turd and I adore him. Bruno is my dude and came into my life at the perfect time. He was a distraction initially as I navigated living without my husband. Since then he has become that sweet soul who makes me smile every day and who has a firm grip on my heart. I can’t imagine my life without the little pain in the ass.

Since this is a sort of stream of consciousness blog, I need to quickly mention the other topics in the header. So, let’s move on to BIRDS. Before I moved down south, I had nine bird feeders and enjoyed watching the many varieties of feathered creatures congregating to enjoy the appropriate foods I provided. Moving to my new home, I decided to keep it simple (and cheaper) and put up one feeder. Unfortunately, the birds were boring. I almost looked up on my bird identification app to see if there was a “boring bird” species. There were female cardinals, an occasional male cardinal, a robin here and there, and once or twice a nuthatch, but rarely anything that sparked my attention or was visually interesting. All it took to add more diversity and birds of color was to buy a second feeder and a different feed, thistle to be exact, to attract goldfinches. The quality and quantity has improved considerably. Sitting outside with a cup of coffee early in the morning is the perfect time to quietly watch these wondrous creatures visit the feeders partaking of the repast you have provided and singing their melodies of joy. I highly recommend it. It’s relaxing. It’s therapeutic. It’s restorative. It truly provides a sense of well-being.

We come to BAR STOOLS. As a woman who lives alone and often goes out alone, I have learned to become more comfortable sitting at a bar alone. It’s not always easy. I don’t consider myself a so-called “single” woman. I still feel married, still wear my wedding band. I am perfectly happy with my life and am not searching for “someone.” I do have permission from my crazy friend, who told me I could not identify her even with an initial, but that in a future blog, to tell the story of how she signed me up for a bunch of dating websites. It took me almost a year to straighten that mess out. Thank you, my friend whose name starts with one of those 26 letters. You gave me a lot to laugh about, lightened my bank account, gave me fodder for a lot of alcohol-fueled conversations (and future blogs) and a real questioning of some of the freaks out there in the dating world. One more thing about sitting at a bar alone. I am just there to have a drink and an appetizer. I have no agenda. I don’t have the energy for that. After I leave, I will likely go home and go to bed – with Bruno.

BEE STINGS. I was stung by a bee this morning – twice. The little bastard wasn’t satisfied stinging me once; he came back and got me again in a different location on the same arm, as I was filling the aforementioned birdfeeders. Or maybe it was his wife or disgruntled mistress who got me the second time. Can the same bee sting you twice? I know people can. I don’t know, it just hurt.

So, that’s my story and I am sticking to it. Time to pour a glass of wine, put my feet up, wait for Bruno to jump on my lap – and just BE.

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