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Anyone that knows me personally knows that I am crazy dog people. (Most people that know me personally, that aren’t family, know me because I’m crazy dog people!)

“Ermahgerd, I lurv dergs ter!”

Maybe you do, but I doubt most people would consider adopting out their future children because they were afraid their dog, who came from a home where she was abused by a child, wouldn’t do well. (Don’t judge me, I knew and loved my dog, these little kids could grow up to be fascist dictators for all I knew.) Ultimately I put in a crap ton of time and training to make sure everyone loved each other instead, and they do.

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That’s my level of crazy. If someone asks me if Bear is my soulmate I will tell them no. He’s my partner, best friend, love of my life, but Heidi was my soulmate. A lot of people will talk about their “heart dogs,” but she was more than that to me. Heidi was my first German Shepherd and we had such a connection that I’ve canonized her in my mind, nearly forgetting all her naughty puppy antics. She’s been gone for nearly five years and I still cry over her. I love all my dogs, but Heidi was different; she was perfect, and when she died I knew that I would never love another dog the way I loved her.

Then came Bruce. If you’re involved in rescue at all, you know about the New York ACC’s, the high rates of euthanasia, and the crazy Facebook cross-posters. (I’m not saying cross-posting doesn’t save lives, but when all you do is post dogs, especially ones that aren’t even in your area, people tend to ignore your posts.) Normally when I see posts of dogs from the ACC I just scroll past, it makes me sad because I know there isn’t anything I can do right now. I don’t have a rescue of my own, and I don’t have room to adopt/foster, as I kept my last foster. (Two bedroom ranch with 2 kids, 4 dogs, and 5 cats, the inn is full.) But there was this awful photo of Kane, a Cane Corso (It’s an Italian Mastiff, pronounced “kah-nay,” not “kayn,” rawr.) His family had had him since he was 7 weeks old, and now that he was 11 and had peed in the house, he had to go, so they dumped him at the Brooklyn ACC where he was set to be euthanized at noon on Valentine’s Day. Something about his photo… I just connected with him instantly, and I showed it to Bear expecting a strict “No.” as per most of our dog conversations. Instead he said, “He’s gorgeous, I’d tell you to get him, but we’ll just get attached and then he’ll die.”

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Listening to the first part of his sentence I messaged my friend who can pull “rescue only” dogs and asked her to pull him for me. She tried to talk me out of it, he was listed as food aggressive, it’s a serious breed if there are behavior issues, she didn’t have a place for him if I decided I couldn’t keep him with the kids and other animals at my house, but I was adamant. I needed this dog; he could not die alone in that shelter.

“Kane” arrived at my house on Monday the 17th of February, and peed what looked like straight blood into the snow. With a raging bladder infection, who could blame him for having an accident in the house? We fixed that; after a few courses of antibiotics he never peed in my house. We changed his name to Bruce, and we made sure he knew he was loved. He did not have food aggression, but was protective of the property, he was great with my kids, cats, and dogs, and was fine with company when we had people in the house. He learned not to beg, that dogs aren’t allowed in the food prep area of the kitchen, and that he had to wait for an invitation to come up on the bed/couch. He fit right in from the first day here, both Bear and I said multiple times, “It’s like he’s always been here.” Even though the house was a bit more crowded, it didn’t feel like it, because he just fit.

Bruce was special, and he was my heart dog. He had so much love to give, and you couldn’t help but want to return it. When we first brought him home I was so angry that his former owners would do that to him. To take a dog you’ve had since he was weaned, who gave you the best years of his life, and then to just dump him to die alone in a shelter? I couldn’t fathom it, and I hated them for it. Now I’m thankful. I’m glad that they did it, because it gave us a chance to love him. It gave us a beautiful 5 1/2 months together. It wasn’t long enough for me, but I know that when the cancer finally became too much for him, Bruce died in our home, in his home, with his head in my lap, knowing that he was loved.

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Today marks one year since Bruce left me. I still hear him bark sometimes, or think I see him at the end of the hallway when I come out of the shower where he used to peek around the corner, and some days I still tear up at the thought of him. I miss his velvety nose nudging my hands for attention, his playful nips when I ignored him, his clumpy feet stepping on the tops of mine (despite how much that hurt!), and his heavy head resting in my lap.

Many people say, “I don’t know how you did that, it’s so heartbreaking, I don’t think I could!” But I can tell you, it was worth it. Every single tear was worth it, and to feel love like that, I’d do it all again. Heidi was my soulmate, but Bruce was the king of my heart.

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