Bruno is home.
I don’t have the words to express, how such a small, timid dog with separation anxiety issues, can fill up a space, transforming it into a home.
Once upon a time, a puppy was born to a family of championship/show lines, in Australia. Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for us, his testes didn’t quite descend.
There was ample room in our lives for a dog in need of a home.
Angel and Bruno co-existed peacefully, but Bruno was not exactly interested in being friends. He was too preoccupied with keeping me in constant sight.
Extremely agile, eager to please, he found a way to climb onto my work spaces, keeping watch over me. I who have been so lucky to have lived with dogs all my life, found myself with an interesting challenge.
When the time came to relocate to London, the challenge escalated. Foremost, an administrative mountain to scale. To make matters more colourful, I decided the most humane way forward was to keep him with me, in flight and transit. Then there was the added obstacle- yes, KLM, Lufthansa, Air France will fly a dog in-cabin, but. You can’t fly a dog in-cabin to Blighty.
I like to believe that mountains exist to fuel imagination, humour, courage. And so, as I combed through paperwork, international laws and jargon, I began preparing Bruno for a 15- hr journey from Singapore to Amsterdam.
To begin, he needed to learn how to stay calm in a bag.
I started with a very relaxed approach, associating the bag with food and shelter.
For 3 months before actual departure, we practised this at meal times. Then I extended his walks- both in duration, and by deliberately trying to introduce him to as much stimuli as possible.
The latter required thinking out of the box, as Singapore is not dog-friendly.
Off-lead work was introduced along the Singapore River.
Whenever he needed to rest, I encouraged him to nap in his bag.
I also started driving Bruno and bag around.
2 weeks to departure, I introduced the idea of him being zipped up in his bag,
Then I shoved Bruno and bag underneath our couch, simulating the environment he would be traveling in, on board our upcoming flight.
We practised all of the above many times a day, for brief periods to keep the experience pleasant and “natural” for him. Finally, on that fateful day, 3 summers ago, we made our way to Changi International Airport…
15 hours later, we arrived safely at Schipol…
And then finding some place canal-side, to rest.
Next, we had to establish his residency.
From Amsterdam, we then travelled to Paris, crossed the Channel into the UK. Whenever I look at Bruno and think of that odyssey we made, I remember how far we came, literally and metaphorically.
I also remember, that surely all things are possible.
If only we dare bother and believe.