It was a sad day for the Austin family today. We said goodbye to the oldest member of our family this afternoon. His name was Brio. Brio was a Lab Mix that my wife rescued on the streets of Venice, California seventeen years ago. He was 17.5 years old. That’s pretty damn old for a 65lb dog. And he had one helluva life.
I wasn’t in the picture way back in the day when my wife came upon this dog. I came into the picture 10 years ago when I met my wife at World Gym in Marina del Rey. She had two dogs, Brio, and Shona, a Black Lab. For awhile it was just the four of us. I bought Hershey in 2005 from my friend in South Texas and that brought the number in our family to five.
I heard all of the stories of Brio’s wild ways and how he ran the alley ways and chased cats and opossum’s. Rummaging in trash cans etc. for his next meal. He was a survivor. He was a 100% street dog.
To burn off some energy my wife would put on her roller skates and Brio would pull her down the streets of Venice full speed for hours at a time. The dog was an absolute maniac.
I remember one time I was cooking myself a nice thick ribeye steak one evening. I had just cooked my steak to perfection and placed it on the stove while I finished my cocktail outside. After finishing my drink and ready to eat I went inside to find an empty paper plate on the stove where I had placed my perfectly cooked entree. It was medium rare and seasoned with butter and Montreal Steak Seasoning.
To say I was irate would be the understatement of the year. I was livid. Brio had gotten up on the stove and jacked my steak. After cussing him out for five minutes, I made another cocktail and went to sleep with just a salad in my drum that night. I gave Brio the silent treatment for a couple days it seemed. But, that was Brio. He was a street dog. A survivor. After I cooled off for a day or so I forgave him for eating my damn steak. He was always on the prowl for food, and from that point on, I paid attention to where I left my grub.
This past year he really started showing his age. When we went down to Texas for deer season, we were hoping he would make it back to Los Angeles, where he’s from. And indeed, he made it back, but kept going further downhill. Medication after medication we tried in an effort to ease the pain of arthritis and Cushing’s Disease. Finally he reached a point where we decided it was time to let him go. A mobile vet came by the house and administered the drugs to send him up to that big green yard in the sky. He was in his favorite spot in the entry way of the house. He loved that spot to bark at strangers and protect the house.
He went quick and painlessly. He had a great life. Barely able to walk anymore, we did not want him to suffer any more.
It was an emotional moment when he left us. My wife and I are dog people. Our dogs are like our children. I know we did the right thing by him. We spent the entire morning with him, talking to him, talking to each other. He was at peace and very tired. He seemed to be at peace with everything.
So Brio is gone tonight. We both hugged him before he left. My wife looked after that dog and loved him for 17 years. 17 years…Which leads me to the point I’m fixing to get at.
If you are gonna take on the responsibility of pet ownership, whether its a dog, cat, bird, snake, hamster, whatever… You must commit to doing your absolute best to care and love that animal. You have assumed responsibility for that animal. You are accountable. You cannot fail. That animal deserves to be treated in the best manner possible. Dumping the dog, etc. down the road because of any myriad of reasons just does not fly.
Before you get a pet, think long and hard about it. Think about the pros an the cons. The good and the bad. The cost of food. The cost of a vet. The time commitment. The responsibility to get that pet exercise. In short, treat that animal the way you would way to be treated,yourself.
The joy and love that our dogs bring us is immeasurable. We have so many great memories and stories of Brio’s escapades and pranks to talk and laugh about for the rest of our lives.
We are all getting used to the fact that Brio is no longer here. There are 4 people in the house instead of 5.
Brio we miss you and love you. And we’ll see you on the other side one day.