Saying Goodbye to Brian

I write this in the hopes that one day my kids will read it.

A week ago, we lost Brian, we had to put him down. It happened all of a sudden. We had dropped him off at grandma’s house to go spend a weekend out of town, when she called and said he wasn’t eating any food, and kept throwing up. He also didn’t want to go outside or for any walks. All of which is unusual for him.

So we came back and spent Saturday evening with Brian. When he didn’t perk back up on Easter Sunday morning, we admitted him to Alpine Animal Hospital in Issaquah right in front of Costco. They called a couple hours later with the grim news. His gall bladder and kidneys were failing. They could operate to remove some blockages in his gall bladder, and give meds for the kidneys, but said he was suffering and that his quality of life may not recover, and recommended being put down.

It was a heartbreaking phone call.

Against their wishes, we took Brian back home for one more night together, and then on Monday morning, at 9:19 AM on 4/22/2019, he passed peacefully with Manda, the kids, and grandma all by his side. I’m glad he didn’t suffer for too many days, and appreciate all the things he taught me.

Thanks to everyone who has ever met Brian for their support and for reaching out over the past week. The rest of this post is for my own personal records. I never want to forget Brian, and am fearful that his memory will fade. So I’m writing down dates, details, and as much as I can now while I remember.

Rest in doggy heaven good friend,

  • Brian the Bichon Frise – April 6, 2004 – April 22, 2019

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(Picture from June 2018)

The Early Years with Brian

It was 2004, I was halfway through business grad school, and I was a cocky 20-something who had just sold a company, bought a condo, and right around this time, I purchased my first “adult” car and obtained my real estate license just in case the business degree didn’t pan out. Getting a dog probably just seemed like another “adult” thing to do at that time.

I remember walking around my complex and meeting a neighbor who had this large white dog around 30 pounds. I thought it was the coolest poodle I had ever met, when the neighbor explained that he was a Bichon Frise named Butch. He joked that he had to give him a tough sounding name, and that Butch was large for a Bichon, most are well under 20 pounds. I wish I remembered that neighbor’s name so I could thank him, I still hope that he’ll Google “butch the Bichon issaquah” and he’ll find my posts.

Soon after, I visited a shop in Bellevue that no longer exists, called Absolutely Puppies. It was just off 8th, at 805 111th Ave NE. An area that became SO popular over the past 15 years that it’s now a highrise building.

There was an area with Bichon’s in it, and I remember one of them getting on his hind legs and reaching for me. I picked him up and set him down by my feet. He wouldn’t leave my side as I walked around that store. We left that store, I sat in the passenger seat of my girlfriend’s Honda Accord, with Brian on my lap. It was August 1, 2004. He was just around 4 months old. We gave him a temporary name, Brian, but it ended up sticking. He was named after the family pet on Family Guy.

Later, I heard that this shop mostly sells dogs from puppy mills, so I always feel like I rescued Brian from a bad situation.

I also remember that first night with him, because I had him inside a cage on the floor next to my bed, and he wouldn’t stop barking / crying randomly. I thought to myself, “What have I gotten myself into?” But once I put him on the bed, he was happy as he slept by my side.

In the early years, Brian loved licking my feet, sleeping under the covers and then coming up for air in the middle of the night, and taking clothes and sometimes shoes / sandals around the rest of the house. He had this short burst of energy that most Bichon’s get, and I loved it when he’d tire himself out. I used to throw tennis balls, and he would run after them, then leave them there forcing me to go pick up the ball.

Brian also loved wedging himself into tight spots, like between me and the couch. He just loved being near us and I remember his weight leaning up against me anytime I was sitting.

I also loved that when he took food from your hand, he was so gentle. And he never took food from strangers. He was sometimes difficult on a leash, but as soon as you took that leash off, he’d mostly stay right by your side (unless he was looking for some place to poop, then he’d take forever). He was a great hiking buddy even if he’d need a bath right after.

Kids

Brian originally hated kids. It all started when he was a little puppy when I took him to a real estate showing and this family had several children. They started petting him all at once, and he retreated to under my car, fearful. After that, he would snap at kids occasionally and we were always careful to keep him away from young people.

When Livia was born, Brian was 9, and we were worried that he wouldn’t take it well. But thankfully we were wrong and they got along great. When Owen was born, Brian was almost 12 and Brian loved Owen even more. They would cuddle up together.

Rolling with the Changes

Brian was with me as I lived in 5 different residences, worked various jobs, and rode shotgun (or in my lap) in at least a dozen cars. He is the one thing in my life that was a constant presence as I grew up, found my career, met my wife, and had my kids. He was there when my dad passed away. He was there when both my kids were born. He will be impossible to replace.

He was my daily companion, especially those 6 months or so after I broke my leg and he spent every day with me on the couch.

I think the change is the hardest part. The place where I got him no longer exists. The place he got neutered no longer exists. His first groomer (Sue’s Grooming) no longer exists. The home where he spent the most time in his early years (the Wong’s where he was best friends with Buster) is just about to be sold this month.

When I hear noises now in the house, I still think it’s Brian. I’m still used to getting up early to let him out, feed him breakfast, and do his normal routine.

Now, it feels like everything in my life is either “Before Brian” or “After Brian.”

The last 2 years were tough for him. In April 2017, he was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease, which caused him to drink a lot more water, and pee constantly. He started taking meds and wearing a diaper full time.

He didn’t bark as much. He was losing his hearing. He hadn’t gone on a hike in at least 2 years. Last year, we tried walking him down to the store and back, but he got tired on the way back, so I had to run home and grab a car. But throughout all this, he never lost his appetite.

On his final day, we tried giving him kalbi, which was easily one of his favorite things to eat (he would walk around the entire house with that bone in his mouth, and then start whimpering when he couldn’t find a good hiding spot), and when he turned his nose and had trouble walking away, we knew it was time to let him go.

I appreciate all the things that dog ownership taught me. I could get into the cliches but if you’ve owned a dog before, you probably already know what I’m talking about. On the day he passed, I told Manda that the pain I feel makes me never want to own another dog again. But as a week has passed, I feel like I want to honor Brian by one day getting another dog. I’ll never replace Brian, since there’s no way we can replace the memories we have, but the highs I’ve had over the last 15 years easily outweigh the lows, and I feel like the least I can do is share these feeling with another pet, one day down the line.

 

Special thanks to his regular vet, Companion Animal Hospital in Bellevue. I wish he could have seen you guys one more time (unfortunately all this happened on Easter Sunday). And to his regular groomer Carol, at Der Pet Haus in Bellevue. Carol, you never once complained to us that Brian needed to come in more frequently, or that he was a difficult pet when it was time to do his nails, or that I needed to brush more often.

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