Once, a stray dog was dropped from a van in front of a house with a big oak tree and a porch out front. It was just a puppy, a male with brown fur. It lumbered up the hill with typical puppy awkwardness, and it was beheld by two little boys. The little boys already had a dog, but of course begged their parents to keep the puppy. The parents reluctantly agreed.

The parents took the puppy to the vet for vaccinations. The vet immediately started to laugh upon seeing the dog. Its paws and ears were huge. He reckoned the pup was a great dane/german shephard mix, and he commented that we had no idea what we were getting into. This was going to be one large dog.

We named him Bruno. And in a couple of years, we found that he was indeed a large dog, and a strong one at that. One could not ask for a better companion. He was loving, loyal, and tough. His toughness was deserving of special merit. Of my years of ownership of this beast, I never once heard him whine or cry out in pain, even on the day he was hit by a large Chevy van. He came out of the accident with only a laceration on his left hind leg and some matted fur.

That leg, though, he just wouldn't leave it alone. He licked it, as dogs do to wounds to clean them. But he just wouldn't stop. He carried the open wound for a year and a half. We tried everything. We couldn't heal it. We decided just to let it be.

Now my brother and I are no longer little boys, and Bruno's no longer a puppy. This afternoon my mom found him laying under the porch out front. She couldn't coax him out, and he was breathing funny. He wouldn't eat, and that is definitely strange. I had been at a friends house all day, and I didn't learn of his condition until about seven tonight.

He's pretty messed up. I noticed that his leg had sprouted a massive white infected area. He looked at me passively from his hiding place under the stairs. His tail was motionless by his side. I have been staying with him, and he's remained the same until I decided to come up to my room for the night. I hated to leave him, and I'm not sure he's going to make it through the night. Damn, I hate to lose him.

I hope he's not in pain. He's done nothing to deserve it. Whenever he walks down the street, the neighbor dogs assail him with obnoxious barking and nip at his heels. He takes it with his head held high, and I'm sure he knows he could tear any one of the officious dogs throat out in the blink of an eye, but he just walks on and goes about his buisness, paying them no heed. He never, ever hurt a human being.

I guess life is a disease that's 100% fatal. I just never expected it so soon for him. He's in the prime of his life. I suppose we all have to go sometime. But if he doesn't make it, I know one thing. He'll never have to deal with barking neighbor dogs or their jackass owners ever again.