Today, at approximately 4:45pm, my four-legged furbaby, Brady, fell asleep and started the next chapter of his life. And we began the next chapter of ours.

It’s been raining outside most of the day here in the Bull City, and we knew pretty early this morning that Brady was going to have to move on. Four months ago, we noticed a bump on his bottom, which turned out to be an inoperable tumor. Poor Bway. The vet gave us instructions and we added a stool softener to his food and let him be our guide as to when he was ready to take the next step. We were vigilant and even re-considered our vacation. Just in case.

Over the past few nights, I had noticed he was a having a hard time getting settled for the night. Over the past twenty hours, he had thrown up and had a bathroom accident at the door. D and I compared notes and agreed, despite Brady’s happy-go-lucky demeanor, his body was ready.

While we were on our way to the vet, I remembered twelve years ago when were driving home on a rainy evening from a single mother’s house with a black lab puppy for a “weekend try-out.” D and I had not been married long, and we already had our black lab, Abbey. (Who was still reeling over me being “the new chick” in town.) Brady had been a stray and the mom was newly divorced with two young girls. She was overwhelmed and dismayed, and she couldn’t afford the mental or physical toll (at that point) to add another breathing being in her home.

I remember telling D very vehemently that we could not see this dog, because we had neither the space nor the funds to have another puppy in our tiny two bedroom apartment. Plus, I  decided, I wouldn’t be able to say no. I would fall in love with him for sure.

I did and we brought him home. I don’t remember much after that. He never went back. He was home. He was a great dog. He was bossy, he always wanted to be petted and would get up under your arm to make it happen. It didn’t matter what YOU wanted.

He loved women. If he and Abbey were acting wild and I tried to put them outside while we had visitors, he would go to the closest female, and sit on her feet so sweetly and calmly as though to say, “But I was sitting here the whole time!” He was a charmer.

He loved to lay on one side of my lap. This is what we would do most nights. Elijah and Brady would have “leaning wars” jockeying for position on my lap. Silly guys, obviously they didn’t realize just how much lap I had!

He had to be urged to go outside. He let Abbey do what she did best…be the leader. She would stand at the doorway of the living room every night and ‘woof’ at him. Once we got them to the door, she would dart out, spin around and wait for him to walk out. Taunting. He would gaze at me and I’d shove him out the door, only for her to pounce on him. They’d roughhouse all the way through the backyard, only to tire and do what they set out to do to begin with-potty.

He loved car rides, he’d stick his head out of the window and LIVE. He counter surfed and rewarded himself with bread, candy, and whatever else Abbey helped pillage.

Oh, and that’s another thing. Even though Abbey was the “alpha”, Brady had zero problem with tattling on her. For years, when she would jump the fence, he would start barking. Not just at where she jumped, but running to the house and barking at us. “Sound the alarms, Abbey went AWOL!”

Brady lived a full life, not a fan of swimming but would try his best. Found his bark six months after he was home with us. (Apparently he was chained a few times-and it hurt him-he could only cough-bark). He was wild for snow and liked to curl up in the back yard on a sunny day and smell the wind. He welcomed neighbors home with his barking and helped annoyingly wake them up on the weekends. (sorry!)

The memories are rolling through my mind at such speed, I can’t keep up. But I think I have illustrated enough of why I loved that crazy dog. That sweet, handsome, galut of a creature. He was my big hug at the end of the day and one of the main reasons I kept my faith steady while we struggled through our family building process. There was always something in his eyes that told me to expect more and not to worry.

I close this with my thoughts on where he headed next. I imagine he casually made his way over the Rainbow Bridge, because he moves at his own pace, no rush. He’s good.

Get’em Bway. We love you.