It has long been said that dogs take after their people, and while true, we people certainly take after our dogs. However dogs enter our lives, we become changed forever for the better. By our side for tens of thousands of years, canines have been our guardians and friends. So intertwined with human history, dog graves dating to neolithic times have been found next to their human companions. When we lose our companion, we feel that a piece of us has departed with them.
Brian T. Dog entered my life through kismet—I had nothing to do with seeking him out. A year prior, a long-term relationship of mine ended and for the sake of the two dogs we had together, they went to live with my former partner. It was not fair to ask them to live separately. I saw my dearest golden Jacob one more time. Heartbroken as I was, this was an act of love for him. And it took a toll. Those around me noted that I needed a new canine friend. I said to Paige, a best friend and co-worker one day, “If a male red golden retriever ends up on my doorstep, I’ll keep him.” No less than a week later, I am at a veterinary conference in Florida and my phone buzzed continually with photos of Paige holding a seven-pound puppy, with the text, “This is your new dog.”
Well, looks like I was coming home to a puppy. At the conference I showed the photo to numerous vendors and gathered many of the needed supplies: bowls, leash, collar, etc. I had to jettison clothes from my carry-on to fit it all. After landing at National, I went to Union Station and picked up my mother (she was visiting for the week) and then we both went to City Dogs Daycare and picked up a pup. I simply told my mother, “We are going to meet my friend Brian,” conspicuously leaving out the part that he was a dog and would be coming home with us. Thus began an almost 13-year adventure with the best dog ever.
This little golden retriever, or as a DNA test once said, French mastiff, would become the center of my world, leading to the creation of District Veterinary Hospitals. Starting off as a ball of fluff in a basket on the front seat of my truck, Brian came to work and began his storied career as a greeter, foot warmer, treat-cleaner-upper, and Chief of Pet Relations, replete with his own business card. The design of District Vet is a construct of Brian T. Dog, being influenced by observing the environment from his perspective. Low spy windows allowed him to greet every dog or cat. U-shaped front desks gave him a place to stay and greet clients, furniture a place to splay out. Building a comfortable facility for dogs requires allowing the dog to lead the design.
Brian was a fixture by my side from much of my professional career. Bad day? Snuggle the dog. Good day? Snuggle the dog. Personal dilemma? Ask the dog. And of course, he answered back every time, sometimes cocking his head to the side.
We create a persona for our dogs, projecting the best of us through their edifice. Our happiness is part of them. Our sadness is absorbed by their love. When the dog dies, that persona goes with them. Hence our real sadness—we lose a part of ourselves, that which is worth keeping.
Brian T. Dog was loving, caring, pensive, curious. Brian T. Dog was me. Dogs enable us to have an outlet of our own emotions, our own beings. When we talk to dogs, we talk to ourselves. We construct a personality to complement our own beings. Our challenge when we lose a pet is to not let this part of us die, physical presence or not.
DT: Hi Brian
DT: I know you are here. You are me.
Brian: I always be with you. I am you.
Our much-loved fluffy friend is no longer behind the front desk. He isn’t booping your pockets begging for treats. And he isn’t spying in on you from the hallway. But he is very much still here. Brian was the spirit of District Vet, that which is the best of me and everyone who cares for your canine and feline friends.
Many have exclaimed that there will never be another Brian. I hope they are wrong.
Raise a Milkbone to Brian, a consummate friend. Your pockets are safe. For now.
From DT.DVM and the entire District Vet Crew, thank you for the love you all have bestowed upon our friend. We are sad, but so happy to have had him in our lives.
Dr. Dan Teich is the Medical Director at District Veterinary Hospital, www.districtveteasternmarket.com