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Thursday, July 11, 2013

RIP BRUNO (1999-2013)- The end of an era


Disclaimer - I've written this with a total lack of sleep, focus, concentration ...so please expect the writing to be random and haphazard :) ...I just had to get it all out of my mind :)

I've tried to cover all the incidents I remember ...recollecting 13 years is a Herculian task ...So I may have missed out a couple of incidents here and there ...

I'll update this post as and when I recollect more ...

There are thousands of thoughts constantly colliding with each other in my mind right now and perhaps, pandemonium is the best word to describe its state. My mind is polarized now, oscillating between 1999, when this cute rat-sized pup came into my life and yesterday night, where the old, plump fella lay still and motionless before being buried in his grave a half hour later. I don't know where to start.

I guess I should begin with the present and then look back. So yes, my pet, my brother Bruno passed away yesterday evening at 8.45 pm, due to a heart failure. It was about 5-10 minutes after his last walk of the day (and the last walk of his life). He slowly pushed hard to walk and finally lay down on the mat in my mom's bedroom. He lapped a spoon of water which mom poured before his mouth. I was in my room. After 2 minutes, mom just peeped into the bedroom and she froze for a minute - his stomach was not expanding and contracting. She called out to me. We went near him - there was no breath. We shook him. No movement. That was it. He was gone. He was one of the noisiest, naughtiest dogs, but he left us all so quietly. The hour after that was the fastest hour of my life. Things happened so quickly like a fall of cards and the next thing I know, I'm back home, while Bruno is in his grave.

It is super strange. 2 hours ago, I take him on a walk and now, he's not there. He won't come back. Well, I was shocked and I am shocked. The words "major blow" have become a joke, thanks to NDTV, but if anything is actually a major blow to me, it is this. Of all the hardships I've had to face in life, this'll perhaps, be the hardest one to get over. I'm quite tall, but I really feel half of me has now died. 

Anyway, this hasn't shattered me yet - Unlike others, I usually remain completely calm during funerals. In my dad's funeral too, 3 years ago, I remember seeing wailing and sobbing faces all around, while I was the odd one out - unusually calm. It actually took me a while for the reality that my father is no more, to sink in. Same case here. I still don't feel he's actually gone. I feel like we've just left him in a grave 5 km away from home and he's peacefully sleeping there. Only after a few days, I guess it'll hit me hard - when I realize that I've to go buy milk alone in the mornings, when there's no one sleeping under my bed, when there's no one under the table in the hall ...

Anyway, one of the main reasons why this dog is special - it wasn't like we bought him from anyone. For 2 years, we had ample fun with my aunt's dog, Blacky, who came into our lives in 1997. I was 9. In about a year and a half, she was pregnant. I remember taking Blacky on walks in and around my aunt's then Basaveswaranagar house. My parents and I had just moved to a rented house near the Kamalanagar water tank. On 4th November, 1999, my mom woke me up and said "Blacky's given birth to puppies - "rendu black, rendu white, oru Bruno," were my mom's exact words. (2 blacks, 2 whites and 1 Bruno). It was 1 Bruno, because we didn't know the exact breed.

Blackie's partner was of a unique breed - Pomeranian cross something else and he was called Bruno. We didn't know the breed and the name passed on to this cross-breed pup as well, quite like a dynasty :) That name just stuck on :) ....I had to go to school that day and my school van was going to come soon. But the excitement just wouldn't be contained and we had to go to my aunt's place. I later got into the school van from there. So I went and saw 5 super-cute pups, all as small as rats. They were all blind, they hadn't opened their eyes. Yet, one thing was evident about this chap right from day 1 - while the other pups slept next to and on top of each other and formed a pile, this chap always used to sleep alone. My first moments with him were, putting my finger near his mouth and he used to keep licking it. Anyway, after 3-4 days, the pups opened their eyes. It was a torrid time - so much of pee and poop to keep cleaning every now and then. Anyway, this guy was the most unique of the lot - paws which looked like they had canvas shoes on them :) This time was special - I think this was the last time mother and son ( Blacky and Bruno ) played happily with each other.

Years later, Blacky would always find Bruno irritating and go to bite him each time he came near her. Occasionally though, they would play. Anyway, in about a month's time, we got Bruno to our rented house at Kamalanagar. For the first few days, he looked like a fish out of water - a bit confused, a bit cranky ...The house was on the first floor, so each time we had to carry him up and down...but one fine day, we decided to give it a try - he started climbing the stairs on his own ...about 25-26 stairs ...he slowly did it ..and when he finally made it, we let out a huge roar and applause. It was the same situation during his last few days :) ...He couldn't walk, his legs were getting weaker and weaker...it was an achievement if he could climb even 3 stairs without falling. I had to keep carrying him out to the road, whenever he had to pee or shit. He was all the more like a baby :) ..while departing.

Anyway, he soon grew up into a very naughty, loud, mischievous and active dog. He was chained most of the time and during his first 2-3 years ...he broke at least 2-3 steel chains!!! ..and bit 2-3 belts into pieces!! ...His strength was unbelievable ...On one day, when my parents and I had to go out and we tied him to the diwan in the living room. When we returned, we saw that the diwan had been dragged till the main door and this chap was there, wagging his tail vigorously. We were mighty amazed !! :) ...

I've played with him so much in that house ...throwing the tennis ball to the wall and him trying to intercept it in between....I've even played WWF with him :D ...his nails were super sharp ....he has scratched me so many times on my hands, thighs etc ...it used to pain and burn quite a bit then ...but still, what wouldn't I give up now, to have all him back scratching me like that?! :) ...Anyway, dad would take him on morning walks and me in the evening - a practice that would be followed every day until dad passed away.

He was a great lover of dog biscuits, bones and everything that a dog would love. Soon, we had to shift to our own house, on the very next road. This was a 2-storey house, with a terrace on top. Bruno's place used to be the angular window in the hall downstairs. He would be chained to that window most often. He was mostly bathed in the utility. At night, though, he would come in and sleep in the TV room on top.

This was the house where I've played a lot of football with him on the terrace. We had a totally deflated football ..and I used to keep dribbling the ball while he tried to snatch it from me and on many occasions, he has. I remember the ferocity with which he would shake his head vigorously, clutching the ball with his mouth. And many times, he has tricked me too, by grabbing the football and just running downstairs with it. By this time, he had also picked up 2 of  his most defining traits - 

1. "Thaa kelu" / "Shake hand kudu" ...

placing his paw on your hand when you give it to him...or especially when he needs something...you hold a bone in your hand, he'll have his eyes fixed on it. When you tell him "Thaa kelu", he would place his paw on your hand ...or he would bark very loudly...A habit of this which developed further was "Rendu tharava kelu" ..where he would bark twice :) ...He would promptly shake hands with new people who put their hands out to him. It was hard for anybody to hate him and not be in awe of him :) He was an absolute darling

2. "Kiss kudu"

Kiss kudu was another command ..where, if you took your nose near his, he would suddenly kiss you with his nose :) ...This too, was often done when he wanted something which we were holding in our hands.

These traits continued even until early this year. It was only during the past couple of months that he really lost this kinda enthusiasm.

3. "Namaskaram pannu" ..

This was always done whenever we were about to take him for a walk. The moment we picked up his leash ...he would realize it's time to go for a walk ..he would do a namaskaram :) ...and if we didn't hurry in taking him out ..he would bark :)

It was in this house that he also picked up an extreme hatred for the gas cylinder ..one sound of the cylinder at the end of the street and he would bark his life out ...non-stop ...with zero loss of energy ...until the cylinder guy was out of sight and audible range. It was very annoying then and we used to struggle to silence him and calm him down every single time...it was irritating too ...but what wouldn't I give now, to have him back and bark like that again? :) :) This habit of his continued until last year ...he completely stopped barking at gas cylinders when we came into our final house - the RR nagar house ..in late 2012...

We soon had to shift houses again ..this time it was Chandra layout ..a rented house ...It was a one-storey house ...this was the house where Bruno spent the middle age of his life. We moved in here in 2005 and were here till 2010.

In this phase, he lost some of the amazing strength that he had in his younger days ..but NOT BY ANY MEANS, the enthusiasm and happiness and verve. It was in this house that the long jump was discovered. There was a diwan in the living room. Mom would call him to the kitchen to give him his bone. He would pick up the bone in his mouth ...and run super-fast from there to the hall ...and launch himself on the diwan...This trait continued as long as we were in the house :)...every single day!! ( This trait had disappeared over the years ...but it happened once, 2 months ago in our present house ..it was such a day of celebration when Bruno, still, in spite of all his physical limitations ..managed to jump on the bed and finish off his bone :) :) )...Like I've been telling you, no matter what ...this was a pet who KNEW to enjoy his life :) :)

It was in this house that he gained a bit of weight too ...

In this house ...whenever Bruno was lying down ...and when anyone would keep stroking him and stop ..he would call them again with his paw ..to continue ...this was something he did ..till the last month of his life ....in the last few years, he wouldn't call when you stopped, but he became cleverer - the moment you started stroking his cheeks, he would place his left paw on your hand and lock it :D ...he wouldn't let you take it out! I don't say without reason that he was more human than most human beings around :)......in the very last month, even this stopped completely :) he didn't react at all ..you stroke him, don't stroke him..he wouldn't react...

Anyway, he hated baths ..the moment the bath was done and he had to try ....he would cry like never before ...if one of us wasn't standing next to him ,he would cry non-stop ..until we took a towel, wiped him half-dry and let him in ...Another thing he was fond of when wet, brushing himself endlessly against towels or bed sheets or any piece of cloth in front of him...this was something he did even 2-3 months back in our present house :)....

He was a very very healthy dog ...except for occasional fever and vomiting ..he was in the pink of health ...As was evident during the very first days of his life, he wouldn't gel with anyone ...so much so that he growled ferociously and has fought on umpteen occasions with his own younger brother, Dhruva...Dhruva was a quiet soul who would mind his own business ...but our chap would just not keep quiet ..he would go and start up a fight with him ...this continued for many years until 2010 ..when they finally learned to live together peacefully...

It was in this house, that I recorded my first solo song ..a cover version.....Ottraikannaley from the movie Vel ...and Bruno's barking is heard in the starting :D ..What a wonderful sign from God, that Bruno gave me his blessing with this bark, as I began to sing :D ...it all makes sense now! :D ...

All this while, Bruno was an Iyer dog :D ..hardly eating non-veg ..except his daily egg meal in the evening + the unavoidable non-veg content in bones, biscuits and other dog stuff ....but in this house, he absolutely relished Chicken pieces ..which my cousin Rahul would buy whenever he came to Bangalore to visit us ....

Bruno was a total foodie ..he ate anything and everything..except curd rice :P...which had to be forced into his mouth ...and this remained...until his last 2-3 days ...where he refused to eat anything, even his most favourite, tastiest of pedas and other sweets. Only curd with rice or idly would go into his mouth :)

Bruno loved babies ...any kid who came home ...he would lovingly wag his tail and go towards the kid, wanting to play with him/her. I still remember how scared Radhu ( my mom's cousin Raji akka's daughter ) got during their first visit. Bruno wanted to be her friend but she was very scared ....but in their next visit which happened when I was in the US ...they had become thick friends :) ...

It was in 2008 that I realized how sad the death of a dog can be ..Blacky passed away...It was the morning after an IPL match, the first I'd ever seen - RCB vs DD...I had seen it with my uncle....Now, I'm not superstitious ....But this haunted me even last year - when I went to an IPL match with my uncle, I ACTUALLY prayed that nothing should happen to Bruno the next morning :D ...

Time flew too fast ..it was August 2008 ..and I had to head to the US for further studies ...at that point, I actually had plans of working in the US ...so I wasn't sure how much little time I would get to spend with Bruno ..once in a year, may be? ...It was heart-breaking ..as I kissed him goodbye and boarded my flight ...
It was bad in the US ..any dog I saw reminded me of Bruno ...I missed him terribly...

But I was back for a one-month vacation in 2009...He didn't quite remember me as he saw me near the gate (it was night) ..but once I entered the house...he saw me in the light ...and he didn't leave me for about 10 minutes at least :) :) ...the tail-wagging never stopped ...nor did the licking ..and the paw-calling for more stroking :) ...it was a blissful month ...it was after this vacation that I realized that life in the US is just isn't worth it ....it really isn't worth giving up such blissful years of life with family ...for just big money and other materialistic stuff ...

I had made up my mind to come back ...and I did ...I returned to India in Aug 2010 ...Bruno was in Madras ...he had crossed Bangalore's border for the first ever time ...Mom had to take some knee treatment over there and she took Bruno along with him ...Over there, he was pampered like NONE OTHER !!!! Trust me on this - I don't think any baby in any house will be pampered like this ...He was so loved by everyone there - my grandparents, my mama, my uncle and aunt ...the neighbors, the neighbours kids ...the school kids from PS Senior Secondary school at the end of the road ...everyone loved him ...

Over there too, he was very active ..barking at all the guys cycling gas cylinders ...and as my mom today points out, mad over one brand of ice cream which used to come in a cart ...Bruno also became a huge fan of Marybrown chicken over there ...The latter half of 2010 can, as I've mentioned umpteen times earlier, be counted as the worst phase of my life ...I was, emotionally, at an all-time low after having suffered some very bad experiences in my personal life ...and then on Dec 9th, 2010 came a mighty blow ...dad's passing away ...They say dogs can see premonitions ...Bruno is supposed to have howled and wailed like a baby, according to Mama, on the eve of dad's passing away ...

Bruno never spared my dad from massaging him daily ...nor did he spare him from taking him on his morning walk...Anyway, during the course of the rituals ...one fine day, we thought of taking Bruno to Marina beach....this was a moment to remember and cherish :) ...Bruno going to a beach for the first time ...he was super-excited when he got out of the car ...free, open space ...he ran around in full josh ...up to the water ...but when he noticed waves coming at him ....he got super-scared ....he didn't set foot in the water after that and ran back to the sand :) ...

Anyway, we got back ...this time, we were in a house in Nagarbhavi ..a duplex apartment in the 3rd floor ...thankfully, there was a lift ...Nevertheless, we habituated Bruno into going to the terrace to pee ...and took him down to the road only twice ...once in the morning and evening ...the summer wasn't too bearable for Bruno...he was almost always lying down below a chair ..putting his neck and one paw over one of its rests ....He was still super playful ..he loved playing with my cousin Arun's soaked handkerchief :) 

A few months into this house ..and Bruno sometimes, started coughing weirdly ...vigorously shaking his head ...he used to this earlier only when he wanted to vomit ...but the vomit wasn't coming ...

It was only a few months later, in Chennai ...yes, my mom had gone to the US to spend a few months there ...and Bruno was left in Chennai ...I used to go to Chennai to visit him every other weekend ...it was here that we realized that the cough was becoming frequent ...A vet over there told us that he was having a heart problem which couldn't be cured ...but can be delayed through medication ...This was August 2011, if I'm not wrong ...I was super-scared & began to prepare myself mentally...mom lost her mood of vacation and wanted to come back ...

But then, life continued...and THIS was when the hard part began ...he was now on daily medication ...months passed ...his diet was reduced ..because if he ate too much, it would affect his heart ...he lost a lot of weight ...We expected him to live for a few months more ....

BUT NO ONE expected him to live so long :) ...God has been very great that way ...he bravely continued his free-spirited life, even with this heart problem and being on daily medication ...sure, age had caught up on him ...but the child-like excitement to go on a walk, to eat a bone, to eat sweets and other junk NEVER died down ...And in many ways, he was still like a small kid ...whenever we used to leave him alone at home and go out ...he would pee all over the house and show his displeasure ...He would still identify my bike sound with alacrity and bark loudly....When I put the leash on him and was ready to go for walk and I simply bent down near his face ...he would wag his tail and bite my nose :) ...this happened even last month! :)

He used to love going to my periamma's house ...and run around in the garden over there ....By now, I had taken over the role of bathing Bruno ...as my mom's back didn't allow her to ...twice a month, we had to bathe him and he still cried like a little baby ...when he was left to dry ....I did this even last month :)

It was the end of 2012...we shifted to our present house in RR Nagar ...the last few months were the hardest and most sober ones for Bruno ....he was almost always lying down in the house ...hardly active ...and he became super-attached to mom and I ....he followed us by the footstep ...1 moment we're in the bedroom...he's there ....the next moment, both of us go to the hall ..he comes there too....We began to stop leaving him for long hours, as our neighbour said that he began to bark and cry ..in our absence ...We could never step out at all ...esp. in the evenings ...if at all we did ...it would be for a maximum of an hour ....

My social life completely changed ....I never went out to meet friends ...I was almost always at home ...if not at office, I had to take him on walks every morning and evening.....Every morning, he would accompany me to buy milk ...the stray dogs on the way would run after each other, but NEVER came after Bruno ..in fact, they only wagged their tails when we walked ...

Anyway, in Dec 2012...Bruno's brother Dhruva passed away ..due to a heart failure ....Dhruva just couldn't get adjusted to the medicines ...whereas to our luck, Bruno had taken to them like a fish to water ...How he survived for 2 years on these tablets is a mystery even to our vet :) ...

In the summer this year ...he also woke me up several times at midnight, wanting to go out to shit ...and I took him ....he had this amazing way of asking things he wanted ...He had the best sense of timing....if he didn't get his bone at 7 pm ...he would raise an alarm and remind us :) ...this dog knew his time! :)

[UPDATE] His enthusiasm for walking had increased A LOT...from twice a day ..we began walking thrice a day :) ..it became a regular daily affair ...Also, he absolutely loved walking along the ENTIRE stretch of  the pathway parallel to the road on Halagevaderahalli lake :) ...I would get tired ...he wouldn't! :) ....He also began to love Rava idlis for breakfast ...that became another daily affair :)...My aunt would bring them every time she came home :) ...I will never  be able to sleep past 7 am ..thanks to Bruno :) ...I've been so conditioned to taking him on a morning walk ..as well as one in the evening ...so right now, as I type this update ..it feels really weird that I'm sitting at home without taking him for a walk in the evening.

But soon enough... he was being faced with a lot of skin infections ...lot of patches on his hair which led to automatic degeneration of the skin ...A medicine that was given for this ...resulted in drowsiness ...he was very drowsy for 3 days ...Soon enough, he could hardly walk ....this was last week...Every day, I had to carry him in my arms ...from the room to the road :) ...it was like carrying a baby and teaching him how to walk :) ...

With each day, he began to get worse ...his sense of taste failed him ..even the tastiest of substances couldn't go into his mouth ...he had to be force-fed rice and medicine...his cough looked really stressful...Barring the 2 times he barked and growled at the cable operator last week, he just wasn't responding to anything :)...Well, I thought he'd get better and pull on for a month at least ...but none of us expected him to just go yesterday night in flash ....

Anyway, here I am now ..still not able to believe it ...it just looks like I've woken up from a bad dream :) ....and it'll take some time to register the fact that it is a reality and not a bad dream ...

Thank you all for all your love towards Bruno ...
 I'm not sure if any other pet in the world would've been as loved, as joyful, as cheerful and as joy-giving as this one :)  ...not to challenge other pet lovers :) I'm sure every pet lover feels this way about his/her pet ...

As he was going to be buried, I, the practical, realistic guy ...still hoped that like in movies ...he would lift his head up ..look around and jump from the cradle :) ...but it wasn't to be ...I wanted to hug him and kiss him one last time ...but couldn't ...I'll have to make do with the fact that I carried my baby in my arms...even as he didn't look up ..but left his neck droop down ...without breathing ...

I can only wish that If I'm born again ...I get a dog like Bruno :) ...or that otherwise, I'm reborn into this same family ...which treats pets more lovingly and selflessly than kids :)...

Thank you Bruno ..for 13 years, my life was blissful like it never was and like it can never be ...
and now, there's a huge void ...which can never be filled ...I hope your memories fill that void and allow me to move on ...through this ...

Thank you God ...we often don't realize what blessings you've given us ...unless they aren't with us anymore ...this was one of the best blessings you could've given me or ANYONE in life, for that matter ...My family and I must've done various good deeds in my past lives to have been awarded with the honour and privilege of taking care of someone like Bruno...



Rest in peace Bruno,
You will always be missed ...I envy God, for he's going to experience your selfless love and affection now ...
and I'm stuck wondering how I'll get over this :) 
Ashwin.

PS - Bruno died a bachelor.









5 comments:

ghoda said...

There is saying. I dont know if there is a heaven. But I want to go where all the dogs go :).
I am sure bruno is doing great where ever he is now.

Nithin369 said...

Will really miss Bruno ehh..
All the fun moments with him especially with Pranay around..:)

Ashwin S Kumar said...

thanks guys!

Abhishek S said...

There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth. It is called
the Rainbow Bridge because of its many colors. Just this side
of the Rainbow Bridge there is a land of meadows, hills and
valleys with lush green grass. When a beloved pet dies, the pet
goes to this place. There is always food and water and warm
spring weather. The old and frail animals are young again.
Those who are maimed are made whole again. They play all
day with each other.
There is only one thing missing. They are not with their special
person who loved them on Earth. So each day they run and
play until the day comes when one suddenly stops playing and
looks up!
The nose twitches! The ears are up! The eyes are staring! And
this one suddenly runs from the group! You have been seen,
and when you and your special friend meet, you take him or
her in your arms and embrace. Your face is kissed again and
again and again, and you look once more into the eyes of your
trusting pet.
Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together...
- Unknown Author

Stay Strong brother

kashyap kothakothaga said...

During childhood I used to laugh at people , who were so attached to their dogs.but, these days I realised something I have missed in childhood.
Im gonna adopt a puppy definitely.....pets r selfless friends to us .having living with it for 13 years , its hard to u....I understand....Im sure u hav enough memories like photos and videos ......