Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bruno the Dog

A long time ago, there was a farm dog named Bruno.  He wasn't a famous dog like Hachiko or Lassie.  He was just an ordinary family dog.  Mom and I have been researching Bruno's life, mostly by looking at old photos of him.  He shows up in lots of photos, so we think he must have been a well-loved dog.  Either that or he just liked to pose for pictures!

Bruno looks to me like he was probably a border collie mix.  Maybe his ancestors came to America with settlers from England or Scotland.  We don't think Bruno ever herded sheep, though, because there weren't any sheep on the farm in Arkansas where he grew up.  But it's likely that there were chickens or ducks for him to herd.

Here's a photo of Bruno as a puppy.  That person with Bruno was my Grandpa Claude, Mom's dad.  We think this photo was taken in 1925 or 1926, which means Grandpa Claude was only 14 or 15 then.  That's pretty young for a grandpa, huh?

In this next photo, which actually has a date on it, Grandpa Claude and Bruno are showing off next to the family car -- or maybe it's a truck.  Grandpa Claude is wearing a hat and a sweater and he is trying to look all grown up, even though he was just 15 years old in this photo.  Bruno was probably a year old or maybe less.

Before there were photos of Bruno in Grandpa Claude's photo album, there were some photos of Grandpa Claude with another border-collie-ish dog named Fred.  There are no photos of Bruno and Fred together, so maybe the family got Bruno after Fred died.  We don't know if Fred and Bruno were related or not.  Mom says that she did not think to ask questions about these important dogs while there were people around who could tell her anything about them.  Now those people are all dead, so we can only try to guess the story of the dogs.

Anyway, Grandpa Claude grew up on a farm in Arkansas near a teeny tiny town named Decatur.  Grandpa Claude had a little sister named Winnie, and he also had a mom and a dad.  The family couldn't hardly make a living on that farm in Arkansas because the ground was rocky and nothing would grow there.  But they had a dog named Bruno, and that was the important thing.

Here's a picture of my Great-Aunt Winnie with Bruno.  We don't know when this photo was taken, or even where, but it might have been in Arkansas.  In this photo, you can see that Bruno is not happy about whatever Great-Aunt Winnie is doing to his foot, so he is giving her a calming signal by looking away from her.  Mom says that Great-Aunt Winnie was not much of an animal lover, so it's possible that Bruno didn't want to be around her.  But we don't know for sure. Maybe he liked her fine except when she was messing with his foot.

Because life was so hard in Arkansas, Grandpa Claude's family moved to Missouri, where they had some relatives.  Of course, Bruno moved with them.  Grandpa Claude dropped out of school and got a job so he could help support the family.  Great-Aunt Winnie finished high school and then married and moved to California.  Bruno just went on being the loving family dog he had always been.  Here's a picture of him in the yard of the little house they lived in.  Since they lived in the city now, Bruno had to stay inside a fenced yard.

The next thing that happened was that the woman who became my Grandma Helen moved into the house across the street from Grandpa Claude.  So the two of them met and fell in love and got married.  Then Grandma Helen moved into the tiny house with Grandpa Claude and his mom and dad.  We think Bruno probably lived outside in the yard because his people were all old-fashioned farm people, and they didn't know you are supposed to let your dog live in the house and sleep in your bed with you.

Here's another picture of Grandpa Claude with Bruno.  Mom thinks this photo was probably taken by Grandma Helen, who probably also gave Grandpa Claude that little bunny toy.  Maybe it was Easter of 1941, after they got married in November, 1940.  Or maybe it was some other time.

Mom thinks that Grandma Helen did not like Bruno all that much.  Grandma Helen was kind of like Great-Aunt Winnie in that way.  They weren't animals lovers.  Grandma Helen used to tell Mom that whenever she and Grandpa Claude would hug, Bruno would bark and try to get between them.

One time Grandpa Claude was making some concrete weights that he could put on bars and lift so that he could have bigger muscles.  Grandma Helen was helping him do this because they were newlyweds, and she liked hanging out with him.  Grandpa Claude made Bruno's pawprint on one of the weights, and Grandma Helen wrote in the concrete "Helen loves Claude" and "Claude loves Bruno."  I think this is pretty funny.

We don't know when Bruno died, but it might have been in 1941.  This meant he was about 15 or 16 when he died, which is fairly old for a dog.  Grandpa Claude and Grandma Helen never got another dog, and they wouldn't let Mom have a dog when she was growing up, either.  That's why Mom says she has 4 dogs now:  it's so she can get her revenge!


  1. Piper, I really enjoyed the story of Bruno and your grandma and grandpa. Especially the part about the weights!

    Bruno reminds me of a dog I had when I was little. Her name was Yo-yo.