Bruiser was a “once in a lifetime dog”. As I sit here typing this, I am staring at one of my favorite canvases I commissioned of him, just reminiscing on so many precious memories and special times we had together. Some may think I’m crazy or being over-dramatic, but he was more than a pet. More than a dog. Bruiser was truly my soulmate – I am sure of it. I feel so fortunate that we had each other. I needed him and he needed me.

The scared little puppy hiding on the bottom bookshelf while his other siblings ran around playing. I was just drawn to him. I never could have imagined the relationship we would have and just how much he would mean to me. I had 11.5 wonderful years with my best friend ever. We were attached at the hip. Friends used to joke that they were convinced that I birthed him.

Though he was a 120 lb mastiff, I could take him anywhere. And I did. Bruiser was so well behaved and rarely left my sight.  He was welcomed places even before “pet friendly” establishments were a thing. Bruiser was my shadow. My study-buddy throughout college and boy did he take studying (sleeping on me while I studied all night) seriously!

He would come to work with me and follow me to the printer, the lunchroom, the restroom. Coworkers would chuckle at his look of concern if I somehow got out of his sight.

Bruiser was my rock and comfort during a number of extremely trying times, including the anxiety and depression I struggled with after the sudden death of my father. Animals are amazing; Bruiser exceptionally so.

The unconditional love pets give is unparalleled. When upset or sick, Bruiser would not leave my side for hours. No one could coax him to leave me. He had the softest, amazing ears. I used them often to wipe tears away as it was comforting to me. As he just listened, staring as if he understood everything I was saying.

So regal, paws crossed, with a look of both wisdom and concern. I am certain he knew at least what I was feeling. If something made me happy, it made Bruiser happy. Our favorite foods were pizza and ice cream. We loved naps and would take them frequently. Naptime was also a very serious time for Bruiser. He loved tanning with me and would lay in the sun on the deck for hours.

We also loved taking long walks at night in heavy snowfall. So peaceful. Not to mention so many laughs. While Bruiser was my angel, he did have his moments. Though they were so rare all I could do was laugh. Bruiser could do no wrong. I’ll never forget catching Bruiser red-handed standing smackdab in the middle of the dining room table. So tall his head was almost hitting the ceiling with a look on his face of a deer in headlights.

Those were just a few of our favorite things and memories we shared together. It’s been almost 5 years since Bruiser passed away and I still feel the same love now that I had for him then. In fact, writing this has brought me to tears. Bruiser will always hold such a special place in my heart and he took a little bit of it with him that day.

While I love all of my pets immensely and intensely (and I’ve had many), our bond was so different. I treasured him. Only those few that have been fortunate enough to experience those “once in a lifetime” pets truly understand. My coping mechanism has been getting paintings and photo canvases made of him. I have 8 throughout my house. I see him everywhere I go and that comforts me. The saying “every once in a while, a dog enters your life and changes everything” is exactly what happened with my beloved Bruiser. <3

Chrissy joined THRIVE in 2018 as a recruiter for our West Coast locations. She loves pets and their people and have always had a passion for Veterinary Medicine. She currently has a 13 year old pit/boxer mix named “Bella”, a 3 year old “million dollar mastiff” named “Aslan”, and my “Wolfpack” (3 grey brothers that were foster failures), “Ben”, “Frank”, and “Theodore”.  She plays on numerous volleyball and softball teams and occasionally works relief shifts at a veterinary hospital.

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