Happy GOTCHA-DAY to our BRAVO-DAWG (a couple of days late)! I posted this blog two years ago after Bravo came home. Since today also is National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day, it’s even more appropriate to celebrate.
No, he didn’t come from a shelter. His red Bullmastiff mom just showed up after being dumped, and a family took her in. The ten puppies she had surprised them (probably the mom dog most of all!). Bravo, the smallest pup, looked like his red momma dog, very different than the rest of the litter of fawn babies.
Today, he’s 125-pounds of lovable funny Bullmastiff/Something mix. And we’re totally smitten with him. But every day, something he does reminds me of our Magic.
Magical-Dawg launched my fiction career, shared our hearts (and pillows), and taught me so much about companionship, determination, aging gracefully, and dying with dignity. Eleven years were not enough.
Saint Spot Syndrome
I’ve often written about what I call St. Spot Syndrome — the tendency to remember a beloved pet only in glowing terms, so much so that all others can’t possibly measure up. So I plead guilty!
Even as a puppy, Magic led the way, tugging us onward with his driven personality and comedic timing. His brilliance made me look good, and — as often happens — we took him for granted.
You’ll find his picture and antics peppered throughout my blog, articles and books, so Magic’s legacy lives on, hopefully impacting other doggy and human lives. I still fight tears thinking of him, but now smiles break through as well.
That summer he seemed determined to make friends with the local skunk population — three times in a month! His joy playing “hose tag” and stacking Frisbees. His delight sniffing out and retrieving countless box turtles. Turning wastebaskets into grazing opportunities (doesn’t everyone leave wastebaskets on counters?) — or eating cat toys that created sparkly poop.
And his delight finding Karma-Kat and finally having a cat friend that loved him back. Oh how it hurt, to see Karma sleep with Magic’s collar for two weeks, after his death.
Magic was no Saint Spot, as the Magic Markers on walls and elsewhere testify. As a delinquent dawg, he ripped up my clothes, left me bruised, and challenged my training in ways I could never imagine. But in our eyes, he was darn close to perfect.
My husband didn’t grow up with dogs, and yet he slept on the floor with Baby Magic for the first week, entirely smitten. For the first time, he experienced the joy–and pain–of bonding with a truly special and magical creature. But aren’t they all magical?
Magic’s Legacy & Happy Accidents
We told each other, “someday, but not soon” we’ll have another dog. And I did look for another German Shepherd, knowing full well Magic could never be matched. Magic’s breeder, and dear friend of ours, passed away only a few months after Magic, so another glorious GSD from her was not an option.
We also knew finding the energy and stamina for another driven dog wasn’t in the cards since we’re both a dozen years older and less agile than when Magic came to stay. I found a couple of breeders online that looked promising, but wasn’t able to arrange for visits or further conversations, so . . .
What’s that saying, “Man proposes, but God disposes…” Sometimes events converge, and planning doesn’t matter. We were on a waiting list for two years for Magic. But our new boy came home within two days, a happy accident we couldn’t have predicted.
One of my husband’s clients knew about our Magic and she knew we’d finally begun to think seriously about finding our next doggy love. She worked with someone who had rescued a dumped dog back in the winter, a big skinny girl half-starved for food and affection.
They didn’t realize she was pregnant. “Moose” got along well with the family’s other six dogs, the cats, and the horses, and appeared to be a lovely red Bull Mastiff girl. But then Moose gave birth to 10 puppies, and 8 survived. As they grew and developed, it became clear that Moose had bred with a “traveling dawg” (maybe a Great Dane?), although many of her pups seemed typical of the Bullmastiff breed.
On Saturday April 29, 2018, Moose’s little red boy came home to live with us. We named him Bravo because we are celebrating each day with this fun-loving dawg. At 12 weeks old, he weighed 39 pounds and has lived up to his legacy, quickly approaching the 130-pound benchmark typical of Bullmastiffs.
He couldn’t be more different than Magic — or unexpected — and we are entirely smitten!
Bullmastiffs are known as gentle giants, bred to capture (tackle!) interlopers rather than attack them. After living with a high-drive GSD, I can already see the difference in this baby-dawg. Magic led, but Bravo follows and nearly trips us he wants to be so close. Where Magic surged ahead and wanted to constantly explore, Bravo acts satisfied to hang out on the sofa or try to be a lap dog. When Magic couldn’t stop playing with toys, Bravo enjoys only two or three rounds of toss before happy to settle down. When Magic protected and sometimes threatened strangers, Bravo alerts and then wants to greet them.
We’re also happy to connect with a rescuer and tell the story that one can find any number of “breeds” in rescue situations. Bravo had already been given two rounds of puppy vaccinations and de-worm treatments. The rescuer faxed his records to my veterinarian, who gave Bravo a clean bill of health when we first visited. Oh, and Bravo gave my vet a thoroughly clean face-washing in thanks!
We wanted another dog that would be a happy and friendly companion for Karma-Kat. The rescuer sent me pictures and video of Bravo interacting with littermates, other dogs, and the family cats. I’ll write more later about the puppy-cat introduction (prep work on both sides, of course!), but must say that it went even better than I could have imagined.
Finally — the name. We wanted something that celebrated a return to joy. And in my other passion, I’d just closed a hugely successful premiere of a 4th musical theatre production, STARZ the Musical — in which a group of misfits find a chosen family on the stage.
Isn’t that what happens when we choose our animal companions, or (like Karma-Kat) they choose us? So here’s to BRAVO and chosen families, whether expected or misfits that somehow make the perfect companions. So yep, I’ll be celebrating “mother’s day” again this year with my furry “kids” and may need to update my puppy book with some cute pix. I can’t wait to see what happens next — and yep, you can bet that the new furry muse will inspire more writer-icity projects!
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