This week Henry Warner lost a lifelong friend and companion. Brillo
Brillo was the epitome of a good and faithful dog. He wanted nothing more in life than to be with his humans and to please us. He would follow us around the house, up and down the stairs and wherever we went. He was the proverbial little shadow, who often risked getting stepped on if we turned around too quickly. He never had a mind of his own in the sense of misbehaving or not obeying. He only wanted to do what would please us.
Brillo was a lover, not a fighter. He had the kindest, gentlest disposition that you could hope for in a dog. He would tolerate little children pulling his hair or otherwise abusing him without ever being threatening in return. He was never aggressive, even around other dogs. He would always let his little brother Winslow beat him to the food, or fetch the ball first. Well, maybe “let” is not quite accurate. But he never got upset when Winslow continually “won” and he continually “lost” those dog-brother contests.
Brillo lived a full and happy life. He was 13 years and 7 months old when he passed away. He grew through puppy-hood on the shores of Lake Washington where he enjoyed barking at the ducks swimming by the dock (and occasionally falling into the water by leaning too far over the edge). He liked to go for walks, ride in the car, ride in the boat and even ride in the kayak.
Later in life he lived for a time in Newcastle, WA where he would love to race alongside the wooden, backyard fence as squirrels taunted him from the fence-top. Being a West Highland White Terrier, he fancied himself a fearsome hunter and he always hoped that just once, all his racing and barking would make a squirrel fall off the fence at his feet. Alas, his racing to-and-fro and barking were never rewarded by a plopping squirrel.
Both Brillo and Winslow loved to go to Arizona in the winter with us. They enjoyed the drive down and back, but even more so, they enjoyed hanging out in the warm Arizona sunshine. Of the two, Brillo was the only one we could ever coax into the pool. He would stand on the top step where the water was about knee-high and every once in a great while, he could be cajoled into going for a swim.
Brillo went hiking with us in Arizona for several years and he really enjoyed being outside. For the past few years, though, we would only walk him in the neighborhood, as hiking was too much for him. His feet were tender and the steep hills were too much of an effort. We have a lot of great memories and pictures, though, of the times we spent on the trails. Brillo also hiked the Cascades in Washington and on Bainbridge Island.
For the last nine years of his life, Brillo lived with Jill and Henry Warner on the shores of Bainbridge Island. He loved to travel with us in the car or in the boat and he went with us to Oregon, Arizona, California and Canada. One of his favorite spots was Cannon Beach, OR. He would walk on the soft beach sand and enjoy the beach-side campfires.
Brillo had an acute sense of hearing most of his life. We know this because he could hear the refrigerator door opening from anywhere in the house. Likewise, he could detect and claim the smallest morsel of dropped food the instant it hit the floor. Brillo was also absolutely fascinated by electronics and machinery. Anytime some device was beeping or flashing, he would stare intensely at it. He was especially fascinated by the printer. The whirring and clicking and paper advancing intrigued him to no end.
Brillo loved being with people – more so than with other dogs. He could ignore another dog in the room and be perfectly content lying by our feet. Even though Brillo was “my” dog, at times he preferred hanging out with Jill rather than with me. If we were both in the same room and then left, he would invariably follow Jill. I suspect that was because Jill would let him up on the furniture or even onto the bed when I wasn’t around – all strictly forbidden by me.
Brillo was a healthy dog for the great majority of his life. His one big surgery was when he got “snipped” at age five. At age eleven, he wrenched his back somehow and had to be treated with an anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant. But he fully recovered from both incidents. Several years ago he had to have some teeth removed and was anesthetized for that procedure, but suffered no issues.
This past week, Brillo went to the local veterinary clinic to have his teeth cleaned. Again he was anesthetized and a growth on his lip was removed. He came home Thursday afternoon acting a little groggy and quiet. By Friday morning, though, he was pretty much back to normal and seemingly fully recovered Saturday, Sunday and Monday. He was eating normally and romping about as usual. Monday afternoon, Christina was visiting and we all took a walk on the beach. During the walk, Brillo started digging in his heals not wanting to walk. So Jill brought him back home, as Christina, Winslow and I continued the walk.
That Monday evening, he started acting differently. He appeared tired and dazed. He had no appetite for dinner and late in the evening just before going to bed, he wouldn’t even walk outside. The lack of appetite was not that unusual, as sometimes when his stomach was bothering him he would skip a meal. He clearly was not behaving normally, but we put him to bed thinking he had gotten overtired and just needed a good night’s sleep. Or maybe he had licked something on the beach that was making him feel badly. His eyes were responsive as we petted him, but he clearly was not as alert as usual. He did not appear to be in any pain, was not whimpering or giving us any indication of an emergency. As it was about 10:00 PM, we talked about taking him to the vet the next day if he was not improved in the morning.
Sadly, when we went downstairs Tuesday morning, Brillo had passed away during the night. We were shocked and grief-stricken. Never had we suspected that he was terminal. Of course we beat ourselves up asking how and why and what we could have done differently. In the aftermath, we concluded that somehow his death was likely related to the recent veterinary procedure. In reviewing and researching his symptoms, we surmised that he possibly he had a stroke or heart attack.
We did have a post-mortem discussion with the veterinary doctor who assured us that he had appeared fine before, during and after the procedure and that the procedure was routine even for a dog of his age. She assured us that it was extremely rare for any complication. We hold no one to blame, but suffice it to say that we believe something related to the procedure led to his death. Perhaps a clot formed and broke loose. We can only speculate, as we will never know for sure.
Brillo is gone now, but not forgotten. Rest in peace, little buddy.
January 15, 2002 – August 22, 2015