Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Stuck Like Bruce

This is Bruce.

Yes, we have a dog named Bruce.  He came to us by accident from Taiwan.
Three years ago, a few months after adopting a Taiwan street dog puppy into our home, I went to the airport to pick up a foster dog named Bruce that didn't have a place to go.   His name alone made me yearn to bring him home, and the reluctant husband reluctantly agreed I could do so.
There were about 10 dogs that made the flight to be adopted and 9 of them were sweet and cute.  The last one was covered in scars, foaming at the mouth, chomping like he was working a piece of bubble gum, and growling at everyone that came near.  The tag on his crate said "Bruce".  
The thought in my head was "oh, shit".

I waited til all the other dogs had been released from their assigned kennels and approached Bruce, cutting off the rope tied around the kennel.  He didn't growl.  Good deal!  Ok, the real test is opening the kennel door,  because that means I have to put the leash on before he tries to bite me or bolts through Sea Tac.
I opened the door while sitting astride it, and without eye contact, clipped his leash to his collar.
Then he walked out and looked up at me.
He hadn't peed in his kennel which means he needed desperately to have a potty, so I started to walk.  Bruce, though, was stuck.  He stood there, paralyzed.  I petted him lightly and talked to him a bit.  Nothing.  Pulled a tiny bit.  Nope.  Then I had an idea.  I told him, "Let's go for it, buddy".  And I booked it toward the door, running as fast as my chunk would allow.  
It worked!  He ran right beside me.  Unstuck.
Right through the scary slippery floored airport, through the horrifying automatic doors, out into the cold night air with bellowing buses all around us.  A long pee later, we walked back into the airport together and went home.  As it turned out, Bruce was a foster fail...which is dog rescue speak for "we kept his crazy ass".  That's a longer story.
Bruce had distemper as a puppy, and somehow lived through it even though he was likely abandoned when he became ill.  The residual symptom of the distemper is the gum chomping jaw tic, which is constant.  How he lived through distemper, I haven't the first clue.  How he lived for years through the likely hell that was his survival on the very mean streets of Taiwan, I also haven't a clue.  Though the scars (and missing part of his ear) tell some of his story, we all know appearances are easily misjudged.
We kept him.
Even though as we left the airport he took the poop of a lifetime in the passenger seat of my car as I was paying for parking.
Even though three years since that day he still gets stuck sometimes, when he feels scared or something is new.  He is our weird wacky awesome Brucey boy.  He still foams at the mouth at times.  He sheds fur like it's his one and only sole purpose in life.  He, in the last six months, has really begun to play and enjoy toys.
When he bursts into the room and throws a disembowled stuffed animal in the air it's a joy to see.
He likes the beach...
even when his face gets muddy.

Bruce has a little brother

 and a BIG older sister

and parents that love his imperfectly perfect self.  

We all gladly accept his quirks, even when he does things like this:

And it was possible because he bravely took that first step, that forward motion toward his new life.  
And he trusted me.

I spent today feeling stuck like Bruce was three years ago, because the slippery airport floor leading to the new shop's opening has so many obstacles and work, and craziness, and, and, and.  So much to do, more than I could ever fully describe, so many more worries than I could ever admit to, all keeping me right outside the kennel door and afraid to make the run toward my own new life.  Making me stuck like Bruce, because it's all kinds of scary on the way there.  Now I have a long way to go in a short amount of time.  And I have to trust me, too.  
So.  Writing is my outlet, I feel better now.  And my weird dog is my hero.

At this very moment Bruce is on the recliner with me, staring at me and chomping away...waiting for me to be done with this.  Well, buddy.  Let's go for it.

The last day we will be open at our Pacific location is Friday March 22nd, and then you can find us at Hope Helpers on March 24th, and in our new Sumner digs on Thursday, April 4th.
See you!



  1. Life is full of missed opportunities; you're gonna grab this Tiger my it's tail and growl right back!!! You are NOT gonna miss out on life's opps! That's not in your DNA!

  2. I do believe you might be an angel, Barbara. You're so dang awesome! So happy we met, so happy to know you!