The Bruno Tales (2012)

“The Saga of Bruno”  ….  by Patricia.

Or “How I tamed my adopted home” … by Bruno


Life before Bruno was calm and organised with our very perfect rescued black 4 year old girl Suzi. By the time you read this Bruno will have perfected his technique of Gourmet Taster Extraordinaire. However, turn the clock back to earlier this year ……


The Lab Phone rings ….  a cold February morning and, it’s an emergency. Golden Labrador 3 years old – must be “rescued” from a home 15 miles away. I take the call – another sad story: husband left home, 3 children, wife can’t cope, dog must go. This is his 4th home already, and was last offered free in Trade-It. I arrange to visit and assess the situation.


Wednesday 22 February 2012 is etched on our minds. Chris drives me over and, negotiating a filthy front doorstep, we are invited in. Inside we find a frantic big boy – Bruno is shut in the cupboard under-the-stairs behind a high baby-gate. Standing on his hind legs permanently, he is desperate to escape – he has no water and only a dirty cloth for a bed, coat is smelly and he has sores on fore-legs. I explain the Trust’s procedure of making an assessment, and get the reply – “You’ve got to take him now or he’s back on Free-ads”!

I decide we cannot leave him. Bruno could not wait to get out and into the Galaxy – still frantic and had to be cuddled/held down by husband on the back seat. Tried in him in the back – he broke straight through into the driving seat!


“Mission accomplished – I’ve cracked the Instant Foster! I’ll melt them”.


 Once home we found Bruno did not know how to relax, did not recognise a bed, drank constantly and just wanted to be with a person all the time. He did not even know how to wag his tail – unbelievable. Hates gates and always hungry – rehabilitation has taken time, helped by a very tolerant Suzi and 3 year old big Hamish (daughter’s dog). Not sure they signed up for the challenge!


Crucial (and only) information from previous owner – “Bruno is a thief and can open any doors”. Likes to get up very early, and was clearly fed from sofa suppers. Mmmm – new routine now!

  • Week 1: Houdini-like, he opened the door into the utility room and ate a bag of bird seed and suet pellets plus unopened bag of Hills Dental Health biscuits – 700g, no problem!


“Yum- this lot are going to be a push-over!”


Message to us – secure kitchen of anything edible AND make sure of insurance. He does like apples.

  • First walk locally – finds and eats bird wing complete and leg of rabbit.
  • Manages overnight to reach and devour 2 dozen eggs and ½ lb President unsalted butter. Strong sulphur smells for 24 hours – Bruno unfazed!
  • Meets the vet for infected elbows, sore bottom and very sore ears.
  • Week 2: Making progress, think we’ll take all dogs out to a lovely spot for walk and swim in the river. Huge success and Bruno passes Battle Swimming Test Stage 1. Walking along the bank we come across happy young couple enjoying picnic with toddler and German Shepherd. Hamish (daughter’s big black Lab) and Bruno make military plan – Hamish distracts the Alsatian and Chris, running to catch Bruno with profuse apologies, arrives just in time to see whole banana disappearing down Bruno’s throat – very pleased with himself. Lovely husband calls out “don’t worry, we’ve finished our picnic” – Chris thought “you have now!”
  • Week 3: Bruno is officially on a foster with us – nowhere else to go – Aaaah – poor Bruno.  Not good getting in and out of car – always frantic. Only been in car before to go to the vets to be castrated. Oops – no wonder he doesn’t like it.
  • 2nd visit to the vet – cream and daily shampoo for sores on stomach.

“Joy – they’ll rub my tummy morning and evening”.

  • We decide to take Bruno out in car – 40 minute trip to lunch with friends. No other dog there – Bruno behaves like a royal dog – perfect manners, sits by our side, loved by everyone. Only went swimming in their lake once.

“Mmmmm –that fooled them!”

At home – loves toys, but disembowels anything soft and cuddly. Did he have to leave previous home because he ate all the children’s’ toys…? Suzi is now deprived of the soft toys she so loved.

  • Week 4: Friends arrive for lunch – haven’t seen them for some time, used to dogs. Bruno joins us all at front door to greet – suddenly not there, but reappears instantly to present the husband with a whole frozen garlic baguette; he’d doubled back round stairs into kitchen to show what was on the menu!

     “Well – you know I’m a thief and all Labs like garlic don’t we!”

  • Week 11 – 3rd visit to vet : left at home for an hour (with the other dogs) – clearly bored, Bruno found the remnants of 3 boxes of chocolates, together with a packet of chocolate-covered almonds. He thoughtfully left some cardboard for us to check the cocoa content.

3rd visit to vet: Bruno now has a lovely tall, blonde personal vet: Fiona tried a salt solution without effect (except her clothes did not look quite the same when she came back in), so Mr Tesco insurance paid for the expensive “guaranteed-to-work” injection. Fiona invited Bruno to stay for the day explaining he’d turned the back of the surgery into a chocolate garden. How kind of her.

  • Week 12: Patricia says we can’t re-home Bruno, it would be too unkind. After all, he has had 4 homes now and he’d go mad moving again as he is definitely prone to panic attacks! Solution – Bruno is presented to husband Chris as his birthday present!! Mmmm – great. Hope he comes with G&T.
  • Told you I’d get there … home run!
  • Week 13: Feeling deprived of his 5-a-day, and the kitchen tops now clear like a display kitchen, Bruno tries his stretching exercises.:

“Mmmm – they left a melon out – my favourite”.

He devoured a whole large honeydew melon, and looked very pleased with himself! Effect? – none whatsoever, except for a large smile.

  • Week 14: Bruno is now quite at home, has got us all organised. He sleeps well, knows what a bed is for, and sends postcards from heaven! Latest pastime? Gardening.  Having to stay outside for a skin treatment shampoo to dry, seemed like a good opportunity for us to plant out 2 climbing hydrangea cuttings grown in pots. Summoning the dynamic duo – Hamish and Bruno – we went to plant them out. Digging out the bed, turned round for the 2 pots, only to find  Bruno knows his hydrangeas alright – there was only one there. Bruno selected the weakest one and was eating it.
  • Week 16: spent a week in the Chilterns at friends’ home. Red-hot on the recycling including bin for food-waste up on work-top.

“No challenge – they went out  and left me alone for 3 minutes. Easy to gently tip the lid and hey presto – extract one whole chicken carcass! Delicious and no after-effects except my owners had to wash the kitchen floor only half an hour after the cleaning lady left”.

  • Week 17 Bruno’s entry for Royal Academy 2013 Exhibition – “Still Life”.

Having let our guard down, we left the house for one hour – to be met on return by Suzi at the front door – shaking and looking very worried. In trepidation we enter the kitchen to be met by the crime scene – evidence left for the first time.

“Well- they left it out didn’t they? How was I to know pineapples are so hard and the greenery doesn’t taste good. Well I gave it my best shot in the time available – another hour I could have got into the really juicy middle.”

Crime Scene – Bruno & the Pineapple – 13 July 2012

Crime Scene – Bruno & the Pineapple – 13 July 2012

Well, Bruno is a true Labrador boy – handsome, strong, energetic, utterly friendly, good with children, but a cunning thief.  His coat is now beautiful although the Furminator is nearly worn down. Latest favourite trick: whilst taking afternoon tea in the conservatory with family and guests, anyone who takes their eyes of a scone with clotted cream and raspberry jam – Whoosh, he’ll have it!! We will learn eventually.

Well – this is wonderful: they don’t know I have a chameleon tongue and can make food disappear instantly.

Bruno is now very much loved and part of the family.  Calmer but still suffering from separation anxiety. Probably impossible to rehome anyway as he now has a criminal record and is stretching Mr Tesco’s insurance system. The vet’s remain on red-alert for the next Bruno event.



Some very good friends (they may not be so keen now) agreed to look after Bruno for a weekend while we went to Suffolk for a wedding. Behaved quite well, but one evening the lady of the house ran her bath – as she does adding her Jo Malone bath essence – and returning to the bathroom in her dressing gown was astonished to find Bruno standing in the bath.

“Well – a chap is used to this sort of thing – I know what is good for my skin!”

Bruno now has even less pocket money – guess what he had to spend it on!


The Bruno Tales were first published in our magazine, Labradors Forever.  You can subscribe online here

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