I thought my friends were jealous when I got a puppy for my fifteenth birthday. It was a purebred Bernese Mountain breed. My mom thought it was too expensive, but my dad never looked at the price. We drove over to the breeder and he let me pick out one by myself. Five little puppies cuddled on the floor of the dark closet. I bent down and picked one with the largest white spot on the head. I already knew how I would name him. Bruno. It fit with the breed name and also was just original. I did not know about Bruno Mars back then.
In my head, I had a clear idea of what I wanted my dog to be like. First of all, I wanted my dog to be beautiful and smart. A dog that people would turn to look at on the street. But, I soon realized that dogs just don’t become smart, and unless I put time into training, Bruno would only be just beautiful. Every day, I would come out with a little packet of heathy dog treats and train him to sit, lie, and give paw. People were usually impressed by Bruno. He was a big dog with shiny thick black fur and a big white spot on his head. It was very important for me to see that people liked my dog. He was my dog.
My uncle is a vet just like my dad. He worked in a veterinary clinic in Russia but here he just works in a small company shipping orders. He is a dry, thin, and tall type of a man and he jogs every day. One summer day, when his family visited us, uncle suddenly took interest in my black dog. To my embarrassment, Bruno totally ignored all commands and my uncle called him stupid. It hurt and made me mad. Maybe Bruno was just a waste of time.
I was not always happy back then. While the rest of the family was getting ready to sleep, I would pull on my dusty Nikes and run around the house. Maybe I was angry or just too energetic. I did not understand myself. Bruno was happy running like mad on the side of my shoes, sometimes even tripping me. It made me feel better having someone to run with. He knew how to fix me without saying anything - by just being there.
Saturdays were usually really boring. We had to do cleaning, cooking, and other chores that piled up, and so it was the perfect day to finally unpack the hydroponics garden aquarium. It was time to go out and check my dog, but I decided to put it off. It was very cold. My mom just returned from outside and pulling off the wet snow suit from my little brother asked, “Vera, where is Bruno? I can’t find him. He is usually goes with me for the walk. Maybe someone locked him in the shed? I think you should go check that out.” I pulled out the bag of gravel and filled the containers, that were set on the top of the aquarium. Really, what can happen to him? It was dark when I finally got out. We have just watched a movie and had ice cream. The evening was great.
It took so long to put my own stuff on. My brother’s shoes slipped every time I took a step. The thing that bothered me though, was that Bruno did not run to me, as he usually did. Nobody ran to me. The night suddenly was too silent. I went inside and called my sister to help me find my dog. We stood outside calling out his name until mom called us inside. I felt sure that he just got lost. Before I fell asleep that night, I lay with my eyes open wondering about where Bruno was. Maybe he was back and I just needed to go out and look. I crawled out and peeked through the large window in our entrance door. The rug under the bright fluorescent bulb was empty.
Our only close neighbors were the Hutterites. They lived in a big sprawling settlement that always intrigued me with quiet mysteriousness. Bruno might have just decided to have fun with the neighbors. Two teenage boys swaggered down the road when my mom parked the car. I walked up and loudly asked: “Hey, did you see a dog with black and white fur around here? My dog is gone!” Receiving an unintelligible answer which we took as a negative reply, mom and I walked on. A bulky man in a black stained jacket shuffled out of nowhere. “Are you working here in the colony?” my mom asked. “Yea, I work in the pig.., yes, yes, I work here” He looked really embarrassed, but it was not funny - he did not know where my dog was. But this man finally agreed to hang a “Looking For” ad in the colony dining area, and allowed us to search the forest around their huge property. He looked happy to get rid of us.
We returned home. I pulled on my pink snow-pants and a jacket and went outside with all of my three younger brothers and a sister. They were worried as well, and every one had terrible versions of what happened. It did not help much, though. We looked at the paw prints in the snow and followed them around but they were leading to nowhere. Finally, I heard someone scream. It was my brother. Between the trees, several coyote traps sat on the snow. Near one of them lay a black fur heap. And I knew at that moment that my large untrained dog friend was gone.
I blamed myself, my mom, my neighbors who set out the traps. I was distracted and bored, and did not see that my dog was much more important to spend time with, then assembling a hydroponic garden. I was a friend of “oh-I’m-sorry-I-forgot-you-exist-only-when-I-need-something” type. Maybe most of my friends are this type as well; but here was one thing, that was my friend, despite myself being not the best one. A dog that needed me, and that I needed. Now, I try to spend time doing important things, putting down priorities. Things happen but I must turn around, look back and then try to never repeat mistakes.