Four Legs

Happy 10th birthday, Bruno!

Birthday Bruno

Last month it was Fritz’s 5th birthday, and today is another big day: Bruno is TEN years old! I guess ten is considered a “senior” age for dogs, but Bruno is still every bit a puppy as he was when we first brought him home. In fact, that’s Bruno’s most-used nickname: Puppy. Puppy! Baby Puppy. Our little Bruno.

It’s hard for me to write anything at all about Bruno without getting super emotional, because he really is the best thing that’s every happened to me and Evan. I know everyone says their dog is the greatest dog, but I’ll go ahead and say it about Bruno anyway. He truly is the absolute best. Bruno is the most gentle dog you could ever meet, so emotional and loving and super-sensitive and in need of attention (and happy to give that attention back, too). He’s so special. He’s never been a chewer or difficult or anything like that, and it’s certainly not because of anything Evan and I did when he was a puppy—he’s just wired that way.

I’ve never written about this before (and I rarely talk about it privately), but the story of how Bruno came to live with us ten years ago is more than a little bit shameful. He comes from a pet store in Brooklyn, and before he was in that pet store, he was born at a puppy mill in Wisconsin. Yeah. And we paid money to the pet store, perpetuating a terrible cycle of animal abuse all in the name of an impulse buy. And we knew better. I had spent years doing rat and ferret rescue work, and I was well aware of the horrors of puppy mills and of the pet store industry. It’s a terrible, terrible business. I knew that then, and I know that now.

But there we were, in that pet store, not even planning to bring home a dog…and there he was, all fluffy and black-nosed and roly-poly. We picked him up, pet him, put him back, and started to leave. And then someone else picked him up, and we froze. That was our dog. Not theirs. It was immediate and desperate and impulsive, but we plunked down a credit card and walked out of the store with a tiny, whiny Chichon: A long-haired Chihuahua crossed with a Bichon Frise, eight weeks old and three pounds soaking wet. Our dog.

I’m long over feeling guilty. We’ve spent a decade with Bruno sleeping in our bed and licking our faces and begging for treats, and we love him more than anything. I’ll never buy a dog from a pet store again, but I don’t regret buying Bruno—not for a single second. After all, he’s the best dog in the entire world.

These are my favorite Bruno snaps from the past year…


Birthday Bruno

BRUNO FACTS: He’s a dirty dog, always. Except when he’s fresh out of the bath, which he hates with a passion. He despises being groomed, but loves all the attention he gets when he’s nice and clean. He’ll eat anything. If it’s edible, he wants it. Even lettuce. The only tricks (if you can even call them that) he knows are “circus puppy” and “go show Mommy/Daddy.” He has perfectly straight teeth. Rod Stewart is his haircut idol. His favorite songs are “Baby Elephant Walk” and “Alley Cat.” He loves old-fashioned car horns and Justin Bieber.

It’s not the best photo because digital cameras kind of sucked back then, but this is Bruno on the day he came home with us. We still have his pig.

Baby Bruno

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  • Reply Kate February 27, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    How do you keep his tear stains looking so clean?

    • Anna @ D16 February 27, 2013 at 11:38 pm

      Bruno has never had tear staining. I assume that’s either due to his breed(s), the mineral content of our water, or his diet—or all three.

  • Reply kay* February 27, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    oh my goodness this just about melted my heart and just *might* be one of my favourite posts from you. probably because it’s almost as if i could have wrote this, word for word, about my howard. their personalities are so similar, i got him in basically the exact same manner (not intending to buy a dog at that exact time…much less from a pet store because i KNOW better…yet leaving the mall with him…) and howard is part bichon too…and i always say he has the straightest teeth of any dog i know! major difference? howard gets tear stains…but mostly in winter…so weird :-/

    anywho, happy happy birthday bruno! lots of tummy rubs from me 🙂

    (& the pic 6th row down…3 across is the BEST…that hair!)

  • Reply Anya February 27, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    I never tire of looking at pictures of little Bruno. One of these days I’ll walk into a shelter and see a Bruno-twin and he/she will come home with me. Happy Birthday Bruno!

  • Reply Victoria Smith February 27, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    happy birthday, bruno. i’ve met you, and everything she says is true. xo

  • Reply Miss Alix February 27, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Look at that adorable dog! Happy birthday Bruno!

  • Reply Kristen February 28, 2013 at 12:10 am

    OMG isn’t it crazy how much happiness one little animal can bring to your life?! Happy Birthday Bruno! So stinkin cute. I don’t know what I would do without my baby!

  • Reply Uncle Beefy February 28, 2013 at 12:38 am

    Happy Birthday, Bruno! You don’t look a day over 7!

  • Reply Jill February 28, 2013 at 12:39 am

    Bruno is daaarling 😀

  • Reply Patrick Daly February 28, 2013 at 12:49 am

    I remember when we use to live in the same neighborhood, and I’d see you and Evan walk Bruno, when I was walking my Chey, and they’d do that I’m not interested dance as we talked, yet still do the sideways sniff… and Bruno would run around you and wrap his leash around you… These kiddens are so special… just remember to suck in every moment. And I knew the store story…. but fact is you saved him. and he is an amazing dog… Who I feel lucky to have held/known.

    • Anna @ D16 February 28, 2013 at 12:54 am

      Oh, Patrick…this is making me cry. xx

  • Reply Christina February 28, 2013 at 12:53 am

    Happy Birthday Bruno. Senior dogs rock!

  • Reply Becka February 28, 2013 at 1:10 am

    Happy Birthday Bruno! I love hearing people talk about their love for their pets like you do. I know exactly what you mean about getting a little emotional, I love our Ursula so much and was mind blown when people thought we were nuts for paying to bring her with us to New Zealand but….of course we would!

    Anyway, I’m glad the guilt is long gone because while you’re right that we shouldn’t support pet stores I’m so glad for you both that you saved Bruno from there and have given him the best home and family he could have hoped for. Squeeze those babies tight tonight!

  • Reply Sarah B February 28, 2013 at 1:29 am

    Happy Birthday to Bruno! I know what you mean Anna, I have a 8.5yr old pooch in my life that is the love of my life really. She also came from a pet store, marked down half price, but is the most important person in it (apart from my immediate family). I love her to death. So yeah, I totally get it. I also get emotional when I think about my Molly too much because I think about her age and can’t bear the thought of her not being in my life. It’s awful. Feeling teary now! Anyway, give Bruno a tickle from me 🙂

  • Reply dashi February 28, 2013 at 1:34 am

    that pic of him sleeping with his tongue out. and any pic with the whites of hims eyes. and the puppy pic. oh my dog. pet love is some of the best love, so honest and true of heart. what could be better in this life?! glad you have him, and he you.

  • Reply Jade Sheldon February 28, 2013 at 1:48 am

    That little face!! How could you not love him to pieces? He sounds like a very special boy…

  • Reply Alex McKellar February 28, 2013 at 2:14 am

    omg I did the same thing – got a pet store puppy and then felt totally shamed. Have since got his ‘brother’ from a rescue organisation and that made me feel slightly better! Happy birthday to your beautiful Bruno!

  • Reply Elizabeth February 28, 2013 at 3:09 am

    Bruno is a such a beautiful dog! He looks like he has a really expressive face too – so many funny faces in that photo montage. I’m a sucker for big brown eyes like that.

    My pup was born one year (plus a few days) before Bruno and I came across him in a similar way. I wasn’t planning to buy a dog that day, I knew better than pet shops, etc etc… but I fell in love with this tiny creature that I just couldn’t leave behind. I thought about it overnight and raced back there to get him the next day.

    Last year when Harry turned 10 we celebrated his birthday like any other 77-(doggy)year-old man: with a fashionable vest and tie. Fortunately he’s pretty quick to forgive:

    Last weekend we celebrated his 11th birthday at the beach, and that way better. Maybe send Bruno to Australia for a summer birthday next year?

    Happy birthday, Bruno! x

  • Reply Lynn February 28, 2013 at 4:05 am

    I challenge anyone who says dogs can’t smile to just look at these photos! Bruno has so many expressions 🙂 My favorite is Row 4, Picture 3. Big kisses to Bruno!

  • Reply Lizzie February 28, 2013 at 4:19 am

    Aw… so lovely! (Especially the pictures! How adorable.) Hope he has 10 more healthy, happy years.

  • Reply Monica February 28, 2013 at 5:09 am

    Aaaww! Happy HAPPY Birthday Bruno!! What a sweet heart. To me he sort of looks like a Muppet. An incredibly cute, soft, and fluffy one. Glad he entered your life.
    When we picked our puppy we couldn’t decide which one. Then another couple came to look at the puppies and the woman picked up Cooper. I had the immediate urge to have a throw down with her and I knew.
    Looking forward to many more Instagrams of him (and Fritz)!

  • Reply suzi_q February 28, 2013 at 7:31 am

    This is so beautiful. I’m a total cat person but even I can see that little dog is very very special with his soft eyes and sweet character all his own. Animals give us so so much, with none of the bullshit that people dish out.

    I lost my cat soul mate last September and the whole family is STILL heartbroken. My 8 year old son still speaks of her every single day, it has affected him so badly. We can’t get another kitty until well after our new baby is born (2 weeks from now) and every day it aches that I can’t give him another blissful creature to love, adore and dote on.

    This is a gorgeous tribute to Bruno and so fitting for an animal who gives so much. Happy birthday sweet boy xx

  • Reply Samantha February 28, 2013 at 8:02 am

    Happy birthday Bruno! He’s looking very youthful for a senior! 🙂

  • Reply susan February 28, 2013 at 8:49 am

    yes, every dog owner thinks their dog is the best and, you know what? every dog owner is right. that is one adorable little dog you have there.

  • Reply Ilenia February 28, 2013 at 9:55 am

    happy birthday lil Bruno, we love you!

  • Reply Mamma Biscuit February 28, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Happy Birthday Bruno! From one senior dog to another! That wall paper of Bruno was so satisfying! Pug hugs and kisses from Mamma Biscuit and family! xoxxoxo

    • Lindsay February 28, 2013 at 10:24 am

      All hail Mamma Biscuit!

      And happy birthday, Bruno!

  • Reply Anne February 28, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Bruno!! Happy Birthday! What a sweet sweet dog. Lots of hugs and kisses for him today (and every other day :)!

  • Reply Fernanda February 28, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Happy Birthday, Bruno!!! I love dogs! Mine is 14 years old, but it is treated as if she was the baby of the house.

  • Reply Jaime - Design Milk February 28, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Yay! Happy birthday, Bruno!

  • Reply ana February 28, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    He is absolutely beautiful… Happy birthday from Spain!

  • Reply frances February 28, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    happiest birthday bruno…you’re a precious little life!

  • Reply Fat Cat February 28, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Happy birthday Bruno ! You are adorable – even by a cat lover’s standards 😉

  • Reply Kristin B February 28, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Awww, he’s such a cutie and it’s so obvious he’s so very well loved! Happiest of birthdays, Bruno! Here’s to many, many more.

  • Reply Daniel @ Manhattan Nest February 28, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    BRUNOOOO!!! Happy birthday, my darling little animated flokati! Kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss.

    Puppy Bruno KILLS ME. And obviously all these pics are great and all, but it might be pertinent to mention THIS:

  • Reply Elmer February 28, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    What an awesome little dog! Happy Birthday Bruno!

  • Reply Kristan February 28, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    Bruno is so precious! I have three dogs that I cannot imagine being without. My little long-haired dachshund turned 15 today and though his eyes and ears are fading, he’s still runs around excited at feeding time.

  • Reply Alice February 28, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Awww, you’re such a cutie Bruno. Happy birthday little fella! xox

  • Reply Annie Hollywood February 28, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Petting dogs is proven to make you happier, but I think looking at such sweet pictures can do it too! I’m glad Bruno found his happily-ever-after with you.

  • Reply Stephanie February 28, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    Happy Birthday Bruno! I love you even if I don’t know you! You are so stinking cute!

    I know how you feel about your dog Anna. If I could clone mine, I would in a heartbeat. 🙂

  • Reply PAppel February 28, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    You could have written the story of how we got our doggie, Chester. Yes, we were ashamed of paying a pet store for a puppy, but there was this instant connection between him and my youngest daughter. Only now, Chester, Chesteroni, Pupparoni, Pupparoo, Fluffaroo, the Fluffster, the Pupster and a gazillion other loving nicknames, he is attached to me and we (I) justify that we saved him from who knows what and I will forever stay away from pet stores that sell dogs and kitties so I am not tempted.
    Chester is a powder puff Chinese Crested breed (normally hairless and ugly), but he is beautiful and fluffy and adorable and I love him so much. He is not as mellow as your Bruno, except when he mopes at home until I come home from work and then he goes bonkers at seeing me. He know a few trick; sits on command, rolls over, and ‘bumps it’ (fist bump). Sorry, I had to brag a bit.

  • Reply Melissa Jaine February 28, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    Oh, Anna – you’ve moved me to tears! I just wanna go home now and take a gazillion (more) photos of my own 10 year old puppy :).

  • Reply katrina March 1, 2013 at 3:11 am

    oh, what a sweetheart!!! happy happy birthday, bruno!!

  • Reply MsD March 1, 2013 at 9:56 am

    So cute. My 14 1/2 year old terrier and my 10 year old terrier told me to tell Bruno that age is just a number, something I remind myself of every day too. Would that we all could cherish the simple things and forgive all as our pooches do. Here’s to another year, Bruno!

  • Reply Emilie March 1, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Aww, so cute! I love the second last picture. Few things makes me happier than seeing a dog and its owners loving each other as much as you do – but now I miss my own dogs 🙁 I’m sooooo glad you can’t buy dogs and cats from pet stores in Denmark (where I live), I think it’s illegal!

  • Reply Heather P. March 1, 2013 at 10:33 am

    So cute! Happy Birthday Bruno! May your day be filled with sunny napping, lots of treats, and some serious snuggle time!

  • Reply arounna March 1, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    the most adorable set of photos
    happy birthday bruno!

  • Reply Stephenie March 1, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Sounds like Bruno is a rescue dog. He rescued you. 🙂

    • Anna @ D16 March 1, 2013 at 4:35 pm

      🙂 That’s a nice way to look at it, Stephenie.

  • Reply Marisa March 1, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    He’s adorable! And he looks like a little cartoon dog in some of the photos, which is even more adorable. Such a sweetie!

  • Reply peggy March 2, 2013 at 1:28 am

    He’s so friggin’ cute I can’t hardly stand it. I want to cuddle him sooooo bad!

  • Reply mommy March 2, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Exactly how do you know what’s Bruno’s favorite music and that he likes Justin Bieber? I mean, it’s hard to imagine Bruno not liking something, except maybe Fritz getting too much attention.

  • Reply jeannette March 2, 2013 at 10:36 am

    happy birthday bruno.

  • Reply Mariela March 2, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Happy Birthday, beautiful Bruno!!

  • Reply jja March 3, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Happy birthday Bruno!

  • Reply Cecilia March 4, 2013 at 1:44 am

    Happy Birthday Bruno! Loving all the photos, but my favourite is his mischievous little face (4th row, 3rd column). 🙂

  • Reply Zoe Alexander March 4, 2013 at 5:21 am

    Happy Birthday Bruno! He is so adorable! Great pictures!
    Zoe xxx

  • Reply Jess McFarlane March 4, 2013 at 9:23 am

    What a coincidence. We got our little boy from a pet store in Springfield, IL. He came from Wisconsin too. Might be from the same puppy mill. The pet store was closed eventually. But looking back, we don’t feel any remorse but only happiness.

    We since moved from Springfield to Kuwait for a couple of years. And later this year, we’re moving permanently to Perth, Australia. And yes, we’re bringing our little angel with us — more than half way around the world: west hemisphere to east hemisphere, north hemisphere to south hemisphere. We have already spent thousands on vaccination, documentation, transportation, and quarantine accommodation. And we are willing to pay Judas at whatever cost just to bring him to our permanent home down under. We feel that whatever we spend for him doesn’t amount to the love he gives us.

    We live simple lives with proper human/dog relationship (although guilty of letting him sleep on the bed). We don’t buy him clothes/accessories/toys more than $7. And we don’t take him to the groomer either; we do it ourselves. We learned that going the inexpensive route makes no difference in how much love a dog is capable of.

  • Reply Susan March 4, 2013 at 9:53 am

    What a cutie pie!

  • Reply Ileana March 5, 2013 at 6:35 am

    Happy B-Day to Bruno. What a cheery looking little dog.

  • Reply Sandra March 6, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    Look at that face! How on earth could you leave that behind? Sometimes fate does what the heart wants, even if the head disagrees.

  • Reply Kim March 7, 2013 at 2:49 am

    Reading your description of Bruno reminded me of the book Harry The Dirty Dog. I imagine Harry and Bruno would get along just fine.

  • Reply debi March 8, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Beautiful post Anna. Thank you.

  • Reply erika March 8, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    i love this post. he is the happiest looking dog. tons of love to you bruno. happy belated bday!

  • Reply Christina March 9, 2013 at 12:05 am

    Happy Birthday Bruno! This was a lovely post. It’s mysterious to me how some pets are just the perfect fit. I too walked into a pet store years ago with a friend who was buying food and ended up with a rescue cat I never intended to adopt. He was so special. I lost him to cancer three years ago but still feel his presence today. When I read about others’ with special connections to their pet companions I always feel the palpable love and loss of Finnegan. It’s so wonderful that you and Bruno found each other.

  • Reply patricia March 10, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    this made me tear up!
    great great post. bruno looks so young!!

  • Reply Laurel March 14, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Your blog is so much fun. Happy Birthday, Bruno!

  • Reply Sara March 16, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    I love your dogs, 3 years ago after seeing them we went and ordered (from a breeder, raised in her kitchen by the Aga), a long haired Chihuahua. She looks just like Fritz except she’s white. My friend has her uncle and also a chihuahua bichon cross that looks like the female version of Bruno and I walk them all every day.
    It was the best decision we ever made and it was due to reading your blog and seeing you liked the same things we did and thinking it would work, and it has.
    Now whenever I am in a bookshop and I see one of your book covers I always think, yay there’s Anna’s work. All the way here in the UK!. I’m crazy I know but really love your blog, thanks for taking the time.

    • Anna @ D16 March 17, 2013 at 6:29 pm

      Thank you, Sara, what a nice comment. Dogs are the best, no matter where they come from.

      Usually the UK publishers design different covers for our books over there…nice to know a few of mine have made the transition intact! 🙂

  • Reply Gina G March 17, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    Happy belated birthday to Bruno. I’ve wondered what kind of dog he is because he reminds me so much of our Pogo, who we lost last year when she was 17. We don’t know Pogo’s heritage as she was a stray who fortunately found us, but she looked so much like Bruno and by your description it seems her personality was very similar. I’m happy you and Bruno found each other.

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