Brulee – Part 1

Brulee’s story begins like many others. Kids (teenagers at the time), begged for a puppy; they promised to feed, bathe, and clean up after said puppy. Silly of me not to get those promises in writing!

Naturally, I ended up raising the dog.

Life happens. Teenagers prioritized friends and socializing over the responsibility of taking care of a pet. Brulee sensed this early on and chose me as “her person.” I got the sweetest fur baby I’d ever had out of that broken bargain, so no hard feelings.

Bru came from the nephew of a colleague at work. That’s neither here nor there, except that Brulee has two sisters that were adopted by said colleague and a sister of another colleague. Quite a few dog photos have been exchanged between us! We’ve even had a few doggie play dates. Some in a friend’s classroom. Shhh! Nobody tell the principal!

Yuppers, we’re those kinds of people.

As of today, Emma and Nana, have been diagnosed with the same condition as Brulee. It was a genetic defect of the litter, and sadly, Bru had the worst heart murmur from the get-go.

Which brings us to our initial veterinarian visit. I’m not sure who noticed it first, but our little puppy vibrated. Specifically, her chest throbbed with two different rhythms. One sounded like the buzz of powered dog clippers, and the other, a mini jackhammer under water. That’s the whooshing sound vets listen for when determining the level of a heart murmur.

Brudy’s pulse, Lord, you could feel it in her soft ears and chicken-bone ankles. On quiet days in the house, when she sat next to me, I could hear it.

After checking our little girl out, the vet gave us the horrible news. Brulee had a level-six heart murmur, which is the most severe classification. Worse, her doctor said Bru would be lucky to live past two years. Even knowing beforehand something was wrong, we still left the vet devastated. Two years. Being the overly-sensitive (read coping through inappropriate humor) folks that we were, the joke became, “Don’t get too attached.”

Yeah, right. As if we could immune ourselves to the cuteness. I mean, look at that little face!

One giant regret I have is that I don’t have many puppy pictures. Again, I thought Brudy was going to be the kid’s dog. I’m not making that mistake with Kona.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Brulee grew up happy. She shadowed me, ensuring I never went anywhere in the house alone, including the restroom–no matter however umpteen-many times I visited throughout the night! Often, as I puttered around the house, she’d give me what I called the drive-by licks on the shins, letting me know she was there.

Some of my favorite memories were her naps. She would sleep against my chest as the family watched movies. Or as I dictated a scene or quietly edited a chapter.

I should have captured more of these moments.

Bru had some funny quirks. Our bedtime ritual comes to mind. Many nights, I never had to remove my own socks. Bru tugged them off, carefully biting the seam–sometimes nipping toes until I’d pinch the material, giving her a head start. One after another, Brudy pulled and tugged, and after finally freeing a foot, she deposited my sock on the bed with a vigorous shake. Then she’d pause a moment, head lifted and ears perked up, expecting praise. Once received, Bru smiled her flattered-Brudy smile before completing the job.

Brudy also lit up like an elementary schooler meeting a favorite superhero whenever I called her name. Since I don’t have a favorite female cape-wearer, let’s go with an ex-cheerleader. I was Bru’s Buffy; she was my Willow. The early seasons of the show. Not that later crap!

When life grew rough, Bru leaned into me, soft and meek, at times propping herself up to look into my eyes before trust-falling against my shoulder, her head pressed in the crook of my neck. I’m here, Grandma Mommy, she’d conveyed. I’m here. My Grandma-mommy title came after the kids shirked their parental roles, thereby, passing the caregiver opportunity to the grandparents.

Bru gifting me with one of her soul-to-soul gazes. I miss this face.