The Story of Bro

A while ago Kate wrote the story of Mutt, and she asked me about how I got Bro. It’s a story that runs all together with a bunch of other stories, and they’re hard to untangle. It’s something like this, though.

I was living nights in the all hour study area at the University. It was warm and you could hang out there. The only catch was the cops: they knew I wasn’t a student, and because I was 15 they didn’t want me on their campus at night. I developed a system where I could sleep with my head propped up on my arm while watching out the window for the cop car. One night I was catching a few winks while waiting for this lady I would train dogs with. We would go at midnight to the deserted parts of town and set up tracking and personal protection scenarios. Anyways, while dozing I opened my eyes and saw the cop car. Not knowing what door the cop was headed for, I grabbed my stuff and ran for the furthest door. I still remember bursting through the door and running right smack dab into the cop, who yelled my name. Yeah, they knew me that well.

We went through the normal rigamarole. They wanted to call my mother, but she wasn’t my legal guardian. They wanted to call my father, but I had a restraining order against him. I was explaining that they were supposed to take me to the youth shelter when my dog training friend showed up. The cop knew her, and he put a little pressure on her. “Maggie, you know this kid? Geez, she’s sleeping here all the time with this damned dog, can’t she stay with you?”

Maggie, who was just a dog training friend with a serious phobia for state run agencies and people knowing where she lived, pulled herself up to her full proud height and said of course. Of course I was going to stay with her. I appreciated the lie and we didn’t say anything about it until she took me to her house. “You’re taking me to your house?” I was so confused. “You said no one goes to your house.”

She looked me up and down, grinned, and announced that she was keeping me. A few weeks later she had a bitch in to be bred, and this bitch just didn’t want to be bred. She was scared. Maggie was busy. I spent days upon days with this bitch calming her down until suddenly it was that time and she wanted to be bred, and then we sent her back to her owner. Maggie was supposed to get half the pups from the litter, and she promised me one. Two weeks later she walked in on me cutting my arms in the middle of the night and kicked me out.

We didn’t speak again for months. I’d been staying in this guys room at a seedy motel, and I ran into Maggie at the grocery store when he sent me for cigarrettes. “God, Tara,” she said, “that’s our drug and prostitution capitol. You can’t stay there.” So I went home with her again, and it only lasted a few weeks again. This time I was the bigger person, though, and when she kicked me out (two am, fifteen below) I mailed her one of those cheesy “Thanks For Your Hospitality” cards.

The next time we spoke the puppies had been born. There were only two, so she only got one, and her daughter wanted it. I gave her my number, because by then I had a pager. Three weeks later she called. The puppy was too much for her daughter. She’d sold him, but he was too much for the people that bought him. She’d sold him again, and he came back again. Now she was ready to make good on her promise: he was mine for free, and I got his papers for fifty bucks.

His name was already Bro, and he was already a totally wired retrieving maniac.


  1. You are a great writer. And a forgiving soul.

    My mom was schizophrenic and I lived by my wits growing up as well.

    I like how you don’t get all sentimental, it was what it was.

    Keep writing. its great.

  2. Sorry to hear you used to be a cutter, but how lucky that you got Bro for free. My stupid jerk cat cost me $100 (for his license, shots, ect.), and he’s nowhere near as friendly as Bro sounds. Must be so nice to have a friend like that.

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