Created 20-Mar-20
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On the morning of March 20, 2020, we said goodbye to our beloved Brûlé. A month prior we learned that he had an inoperable and untreatable form of cancer (hemangiosarcoma) and that he “had a couple of weeks, to a month” left. One nice thing about that last month is that I was able to spend just over the last two weeks of it working from home (thanks coronavirus!), so I was never far from him. Others weren’t far from him either. In those final weeks he had his last brew day, spent long hours on the deck keeping watch over the neighborhood, and got visits from some of his friends and family. But in the end, though his spirit was still strong, his broken body could not go on and we had to take him to the vet that one last time. He was at peace, with his head in my lap as he left this world.

From the first day we brought him home, Brûlé’s character was clear: a gentle giant trying to find his way in the world. He could alternately be an attention sucking cuddle muffin or a powerful protector of the keep. He could let other dogs know who was boss and still be bewildered at how the world worked. He could be intimidating at the front door (who knows how many UPS and FedEx guys he kept from murdering us all) and be a complete fraidy cat about loud noises or simple electronic beeps. He was the transparent enigma. He would always like to go, and always like to rest. I always said that he would never stand when he could sit, and he would never sit when he could lie down.

Of all the stories to be told about Brûlé, the ultimate one has to be the time my neighbor, Malia, called me in the middle of the day while I was at work saying she had Brûlé. I thought that this was a curious thing for her to say because I knew that I left him in the house that day, as I always did; doors locked windows closed. Luckily, it was easy for me to get home so that’s what I did. Sure enough, there he was, outside with Malia, happy as can be. I opened the garage door, got him inside, and started inspecting the house to see how he could have possibly escaped. There were a couple of plausibly likely spots where we might have forgotten something, like, say, closing the door to the deck all the way, but none of that panned out.

Then I came around on our driveway and looked at our house from somewhat afar and noticed something odd, just beyond the front door. It turned out to be a window screen lying on the concrete in a most inappropriate way. I looked around, trying to figure out where it came from…and then I looked up. The second story window above was without a screen, open, and disheveled blinds were partially hanging out the window. It was a bewildering sight, the kind of sight that inspires people to invent words like “gobsmacked”. Here's the photo.

On the one hand, the mystery was solved: Brûlé had to have jumped out of the second story window. There was simply no other possibility. But on the other hand, a new and even more baffling question took its place: how was that even possible? Getting to that window would have been tough in the first place (for geometric reasons inside the house too boring to go into), but then, teetering on the width of a windowsill he would have been faced with a choice: be Super Dog and jump a clear 10 feet through free space to the top of a stone retaining wall at about the second story level, or(!) be Spider Dog and drop 13 feet onto hard concrete, avoiding impalement on some lawn furniture nearby. Quite a choice…and no one will ever know what he decided. We’ll only know that he made the right decision because he lived to (not) tell about it. I showed the emergency vet who examined him later in the day (and found him fine) a photo of the scene and she couldn’t believe it either. Super Dog or Spider Dog, Super Dog or Spider Dog…we’ll never know.

I always love that story because it touches on all of him. It was a lovely day, so some crazy thing drove him to that windowsill to make his choice. He went full Beast Mode to make it safely to the ground somehow. He was so excited and happy when I came home to pick him up. He was totally cool and unfazed the rest of the day, even got a trip to the vet, and slept well that evening. He owned it. July 30, 2013 was likely Brûlé’s Brûlé-est day ever.

Brûlé: 2006 - March 20, 2020
The photos in this gallery were all taken in his last few weeks, from the day he got his diagnosis to his last morning.
If you’d like to leave a comment in the guestbook for this gallery, please have it start with “I remember the time when Brûlé…”
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