R.I.P. Bernie

In 2001, Stan and I had just moved to a cabin in the mountains when a dishevelled puppy with a badly healed broken nose wandered into our yard. We took him in, bathed him, fed him, and he slept for three days.
He was so pitiful, our big, older, yellow labbie, Cajun took him in too. She house trained him and they became siblings.
Shortly after that, a cat showed up pawing on the window screen. We didn't decide to keep her - she decided to keep us - as cats do. And so came sibling #3.
We were a fuzzy household for a long time.
     Inside the house, Bernie never lost his puppiness. He chased the cat, and balls, and had this silly way of sleeping in his favorite chair.
But the second we opened the front door, Bernie would grow scared. The world wasn't safe! We never knew what happened to his nose, but it had obviously traumatized him. We called him our socialite trapped in a phobia. At parties, you could tell he wanted to be there, but that it was also a struggle for him.
The only time I saw him truly comfortable outside was when he caught the scent of deer poop. He was a hound after all (!!) and would follow his nose, howling towards what he considered the very best perfume to roll in! Deer poop was like Chanel #5!
      Bernie was fourteen-years-old when we decided to make the move across the pond. Not only did the vet advise us not to take him because he was too old, we knew it wouldn't be the right thing for him. Bernie was not made for a big, crowded city. What to do?
     That's when Dad #2 stepped in - illustrator and good friend, Mark Braught. Mark had three acres and an enormous heart. He also had Annabelle. Bernie fell in love with Annabelle.
Annabelle was a much younger doggie, and very attractive to canine eyes. I like to think she kept him young.
     Mark taught at Hollins University every summer, so every summer I got to see Bernie (and Annabelle and Figlet). As he got really old, his memory developed gaps, and then folded over on itself. One summer he didn't seem to know me. The next, it was as if I had just left the room and come back in. Through it all, he was loved more than I could have ever hoped for him by Mark, Annabelle, and Figlet; Stan, Me, Bootsie, and Cajun.
     Bernie passed away on Thursday at the ripe old age of seventeen (round 'bouts). Life is so bittersweet, so full of joy and heartbreak side by side. I'm sad, but I also remember that hard-scrabble little puppy who was loved by so many.
     I'll be looking for your wings when I get there, too, Bernie-meister.

Comments

Amandine said…
He is a very lucky dog to have met you. I am sorry for your loss 😖 take care ♥️
Brian Lies said…
So sorry to read this. I'm always reminded of George Carlin's comment on dogs: "When you get a dog, you buy into a small tragedy." But it sounds like Bernie had a charmed life with you, and then with Mark. He must have felt that he hit the puppy jackpot that day he wandered into your lives.
Ruth said…
I am sorry for your loss. I know the loss of a pet is hard. Years ago, after losing my beloved cat, I was in a store when I spotted something that reminded me of him. I immediately teared up. An associate of the store came over to ask if I was alright. I told him my story and we chatted for about 15 minutes. We shared stories of the importance of dear pets. We both commented about how our lives were enriched by them. At the end of the conversation I was back on track. Hold dear your memories, and be thankful.

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