Monday, October 06, 2008

He Died with Dignity

We were at a party this weekend when a friend told me his dog, Brutus, had died.

Brutus was a great dog for telling stories about, and I often find myself telling Brutus stories at parties. So, in his memory, I will share a few with you.

He was an English Bulldog. In other words, he was huge, stupid, and happy all the time. He loved to play and to play rough. One of his best pals was a Doberman down the street. They would "play" by biting each others faces. The Doberman would knock Brutus to the ground, bite into Brutus' jowls and then drag him around the yard. After this, Brutus would stand up, his face covered in bloody teethmarks, and kind of jump up and down, as if to say, "Again! Again! Do it again!"

It was a little horrifying to watch, but after a few moments, Brutus' sheer glee at being ripped apart from another dog was contagious. If we tried to break up the "play fight," Brutus would sulk and look disappointed. "Don't you know you're being hurt?" we would ask Brutus while scratching behind his ears. "Don't you know you are in pain?"

He did not know this. He was big and stupid and happy all the time.

My favorite game to play with Brutus was a little thing I called, "Where is your dignity?" I would talk real excited and go, "Where's your dignity, Brutus? Where? Where is it?" And I would look around the room in an overly animated way. Because Brutus was not very bright, he would not look where I was looking, he would just stare directly at me and wag his tail.

Then I would scratch him behind the ears, "Where's your dignity? Where is it? Where is it?" Then he would strategically shift his body so I would no longer be scratching behind his ears, but rather be scratching his butt. He loved having his butt scratched. There was one part of his body, at the base of his tail, that acted like a little dog button. If you scratched this one spot, Brutus' legs would collapse and he would flop on the ground. Then he would clumsily roll over and expose his stomach for more scratching.

When I would scratch his butt and hit the magic dog button, Brutus would flop. I would then begin rubbing his belly with an overly-dramatic, "That's right! You have no dignity! No dignity at all!"

There was one time when I attended a Christmas party at these friends house. There were holiday sausages and sugar cookies galore. Brutus came up to me and nudged me with his butt, practically begging me to ask him about his dignity. Instead I offered him a little bit of Christmas sausage in exchange for some amusing dog tricks.

"Sit," I said. Brutus just looked at me and wagged his tail so hard that it looked like he was just wagging his entire back half. "No, sit," I said and pressed gently on his back side.

My fingers must have brushed the magic dog button because he collapsed and stuck his legs up in the air, begging for is tummy to be rubbed. Figuring that this was as close as I would ever get to having him sit, I went ahead and gave him a nice piece of Christmas sausage. And another. And another.

I guess Brutus' delicate digestion wasn't prepared for the rich goodness that is Christmas sausage that probably came from a marching band fundraiser, because shortly after downing a half pound of the stuff, he began to eek out really smelly dog farts.

"Brutus, what have you gotten into?" asked his owners. Brutus looked to me, hoping I would intervene for him, but, sadly, I betrayed the poor dog's trust and pretended to be very interested in the decorative tinsel. They decided to move Brutus out of the house and into the yard. Of course, they didn't realize that I had not only fed Brutus the Christmas sausage, but more than a few sugar cookies.

Let's just say that when the sugar hit his system, he decided to run in circles. Without stopping. For three hours straight. For the rest of the evening, if I ever needed a little holiday cheer, I would look out the window, see this white blur going in circles, and I knew Brutus was happy.

And I hope, where ever he is, he is happy now.


Susan said...

Note to self: never let MRT near my dog.

NoRegrets said...

Seriously Susan.

Poor puppy dog...

M. Robert Turnage said...

Susan, dogs absolutely love me. Dog owners, however, tend to get upset with me. We don't own a dog but have a pack of jumbo Milk Bones in the garage in case a neighbor's dog does something particularly funny and needs a treat.

Nor, Brutus absolutely loved spending time with me. He had so much fun and was unusually well-fed after our playdates. He lived a long, healthy, happy life (he was 77 in dog years when he finally departed).

R* said...

Well written, Robert! I enjoyed it. I talk to my sister's dog (a yippy jack russell terrior) in similar manner ("how smart are you? huh? huh? oooooh how smart are you!") until she either pees in excitement or runs head on into the sliding glass door. my sister HATES it. Ahhhh.


Cyber D said...


One of your best "slice of life" plieces yet! And you're right. My professional dog-trainer wife would hate you... well not you so much as your horrible dog-trainer-ruining-good-dog-technique behavior.

Tera said...

Poor Brutus! I am sorry to hear that!

And yeah, uh...what Susan said.

LMAO @ r*!