It was an early, blustery Buffalo morning in 2010 when a group of local rescue organizations were waiting in the parking lot of Lowes for a transport truck full of puppies that were pulled from a high kill shelter in Ohio the night before they were to be euthanized. I was there as a volunteer to help unload crates. It was bitterly cold, and the transport was running late, so I kept warm in the brand-new F150I had just leased earlier that week. When the truck finally arrived and the door flew open, I couldn’t believe the crates of dogs that were stacked from floor to ceiling in the back. Amidst the chaos of barking dogs, a white Pitbull puppy immediately caught my eye. He had this pink pig belly protruding, most likely full of worms, and was sitting up calmly, staring at us with sleepy eyes. My heart sank, and my exact words were, “Oh my God, give me the white one.” I wasn’t looking for a dog, at the time I had a house full of Chihuahua rescues I was fostering, but it was like my body went into auto-pilot and I couldn’t control what I was doing. Looking back in hindsight, some force greater than imaginable brought my spirit animal to me. I placed his crate in the front of my truck, turned on the heated seat for him, and promised to be right back. After we finished unloading the rest of the dogs, I couldn’t wait to jump back into my warm F150, drive home and snuggle with my new puppy. That didn’t happen. What I jumped into was explosive diarrhea covering every inch of my brand-new vehicle. My cute little puppy wasn’t so white (or cute) anymore, and I’d never experience that new car smell again. Although it was freezing outside, I drove home with all the windows open and my head hanging out, just like Ace Ventura. By the time we got home, I was feeling chilled, tired and too overwhelmed to deal with the mess in my truck. I mustered enough strength to hose out the crate on my patio and give my poo-covered puppy a much-needed bath. As he sat in the soapy water staring up at me with confused blue puppy eyes, my heart melted, and I fell in love right there and then. I named him Brian.
Brian was the smartest puppy. He never had a single accident in the house, he just knew to go potty outside, which was odd to me because I was used to Chihuahuas peeing freely inside my house. Brian shared my bed from the first night I brought him home and slept the whole night through. He used to lie on my pillow sideways, and I couldn’t understand how this tiny little puppy made my king-sized bed seem crowded. As Brian grew into adolescence, his wild side became prevalent, and I found myself challenged by this dog on a daily basis. If you have ever read the book or seen the movie Marley & Me, the story is frighteningly familiar. I used to keep an ongoing list of things Brian destroyed and how much money it cost me to repair or replace these items. We’re not talking typical puppy mishaps, like a chewed shoe (although he did destroy several pairs of designer stilettos), we’re talking big ticket items, like an entire flooring system. Once my list exceeded $10,000, I stopped keeping track, for my own sanity. Brian’s antics were epic, and I kept a journal to remind me in his later years what he put me through:
The Bikini incident: One day, I left Brian in his crate while I stepped out briefly to run an errand. I had left my favorite, super expensive, Victoria’s Secret camouflage bikini covered in rhinestones that fit like a glove on the sofa, nowhere near the dog. When I returned home, all that was left of my swimsuit were remnants of camo fabric in Brian’s crate (which remained locked). To this day I am dumbfounded as to how he got the bikini from the other side of the room, and I’ll tell you one thing, that dog pooped rhinestones for days!
The Spaghetti incident: I had a girlfriend from Virginia spending the weekend at my house and although she was a dog-lover, she was quite put off by Brian’s mischievous behavior. One night we came home to find several boxes of spaghetti ripped open, covering every inch of the living room floor. It took us over hours to clean it up. The next night we went out for dinner and came home to find Brian covered in what I thought was red blood. His face, paws, and legs were stained red, and even the water in his bowl red. I freaked out thinking he was hurt and bleeding (he seriously looked like Cujo) when my girlfriend called me into the living room. There, covering my beautiful custom-made pure white linen slipcovers, were several boxes of red Jello ripped open. He was eating the powder on my furniture and then going to the water bowl to quench his thirst. He was literally making his own Jello. My girlfriend looked at me and said, “Your dog is an asshole” and she never came back to visit again.
The Chocolate Chip Cookie incident: My sister had unfortunately been diagnosed with Leukemia and was feeling blue, so I baked her two dozen chocolate chip cookies. As they sat on the counter, I thought to push the cooling racks all the way back so Houdini dog couldn’t get at them. Never in a million years would I guess he was big enough to climb on the countertop, but that bugger took advantage of the minute I turned my back and ate the entire two dozen cookies. That was a super fun phone call to the vet. There were many more occurrences like this one to come, but the Leukemia cookies will always stand out in my memories.
The Jamaica incident: One Christmas I had purchased an all-inclusive Jamaican vacation. The night before I was to leave, I fell asleep on the living room floor in front of the fire, when Brian tried to wedge his body between me and the fireplace screen. The screen tipped over and the brass handle hit me right in the bone under my eye. I didn’t have time to react as I was sleeping, so it hit hard and in the perfect spot. I didn’t get a “black eye,” I got a black and blue entire right side of the face. Welcome to Jamaica! I looked like Rocky boarding my plane the next morning and didn’t come home with a single picture of myself on that tropical island.
The Garage Sale incident: Every summer I have a garage sale to purge my house of clutter and make some money. My mom would usually come over with donuts and would hang out, so I dragged my glass top Martha Stewart picnic table and chairs out into the driveway for mom to sit on and enjoy her breakfast donuts and tea. I looped Brian’s leash under my chair, so I didn’t have to hold it. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal because Brian loves people, especially children, and attends doggie daycare with other dogs for socialization and would usually behave himself during garage sales. But there was one thing Brian hated, and that was Ziggy, the terrier next door. My neighbor, Mary, who was a lawyer, decided to walk Ziggy during our garage sale. She stopped at the foot of her driveway, waved and yelled Hello over to us. I stupidly stood up to say Hi back, and that was “game on” for Brian. He went running full force across Mary’s lawn, Martha Stewart chair in tow, to attack Ziggy. Mary quickly scooped Ziggy up right as Brian’s feet left the ground and he launched his fat little body into the air. He took Mary down and she cut open her palms and both knees. I dove and tackled Brian before he could get at Ziggy, screaming like a banshee. Do you know how garage sales have their ebbs and flows? One minute no one is in your driveway, the next minute ten people are rifling through your stuff. Well, of course, the Ziggy confrontation happened in front of a full audience. Those people got a full-on freak show that day, and luckily, Mary didn’t sue us.
I can go on and on with eight years full of hysterical occurrences…Brian’s been kicked out of Doggie Day Care and told never to return, and he’s been permanently ejected from PetSmart after putting the store in lockdown mode not once but twice. The good Brian has performed in several cabaret shows since he was a puppy where he helped raise thousands of dollars for a local animal rescue (although he did get kicked out of one theater for naughty behavior), he’s been mascot to a pole dance studio where he also helped raise donations for charity from fitness clients, he’s driven cross country, and he was with me when I found Country Honk Farm. We are inseparable. I’ve never had a dog so in tune with me, he knows and understands every single word that comes out of my mouth. He also knows how to communicate his wants and needs crystal clearly. I joke that he’s more human than dog.
Looking back in hindsight, Brian made it into my F-150 that cold, snowy day at Lowes for a reason. Perhaps it was a guardian angel sending him to me, or some unexplainable force that worked it’s magic that day. He’s seen me through some of the most trying times in my life, including a miscarriage, divorce, illness, death of loved ones, and now, moving out of state. He’s my rock, my savior, my soft place to land. He has shown me unconditional love, devotion, and loyalty like no other living being ever has, and he makes me laugh every single day. He is my best friend, soulmate and the true love of my life.
When it’s time to say goodbye to my precious love, he will have a special place in the Shine-A-Light Pet Cemetery at Country Honk Farm, which lies under an old oak tree at the foot of our property, where I can visit him every day while walking our rescues. Hopefully, that won’t be for many more years to come.
“I’ll be your savior, steadfast and true. I’ll come to your emotional rescue.”