As our family was returning home from the store one icy, cold winter night, a raggedy animal jumped in front of our car. At first, we thought it was a coyote or small doe and were just thankful we didn’t hit it. We could tell right away it was hurt from the way it limped. Fortunately, my Dad quickly recognized it was a dog, and we were wrapped it in a warm blanket and rushed it to the 24-hour vet. We discovered the dog was severely malnourished, had mange, was approximately 10+ years old and had a broken leg. He was a mutt and we named him Bruiser.
You have to understand, I was 10-years old and I badly wanted a puppy. Not some scruffy mutt we picked up on the side of the road! Many of my friends had those designer doodles – goldendoodles and labradoodles that were absolutely adorable! Here I had this snaggle-toothed mutt whose breed we didn’t even know.
However, I have to say Bruiser taught me a lot. From that first night, he slept in my bed and cuddled up with me. He would ride with my Mom to take me to school everyday. He was waiting for me when I got home, always with a tail wag and a smile. He got me through breakups, friendship hiccups, bad test scores, acne, and the awkward puberty phase. He always listened to me and unlike some boyfriend, loved me unconditionally. When I cried, he was right by my side. When my appendicitis burst, he never left my bedside.
I only had Bruiser for five years and I was heartbroken when he passed away. The time was too short. However, that is the downside of a senior dog. However, I wouldn’t trade those five years for 15 years with a puppy. Because here is what Bruiser taught me that I may not have learned if it wasn’t for that fateful winter night.
- I only want to adopt senior dogs. When I say that, people are often caught off guard. Yes, your time with them is shorter. But the time is so precious and they are so grateful. Senior dogs are often left to languish in shelters, when they should be the first ones adopted! Their unconditional love is amazing.
- With aging dogs, you don’t have to put up with any of the puppy behaviors like housebreaking, biting and chewing. Like any dog, there is an adjustment period. Yes, you have to make special accommodations as they get older such as non-slip rugs, lifting harnesses, and other arthritic products. But every animal requires adjustments.
- Life goes at warp speed. Bruiser taught me to slow down, especially in his later years. Why am I always in such a hurry? He would nap a little longer, sniff the flowers a little longer, and eat his food a little slower – all good things! Bruiser wasn’t in a hurry. He knew his time on earth was limited and he was going to enjoy every minute’
- Who needs a designer dog or pure bred? Mutts are great. Are mutts healthier than pure breds? This has long been a source of debate. The general consensus among veterinary professionals has been and remains to be that mixed breeds, in general, tend to be hardier and more resilient to genetic disease and experience more longevity.
I needed Bruiser and Bruiser needed me. If I had one wish for you this holiday season it would be that you find you own Bruiser and don’t just look at the shiny pennies.