8/27/2014 1:52:00 PM Once upon a time, there was a big brown dog...
By Lila Ritchie for the Press-Citizen
In the itty-bitty-city of Longville, MN, a fairy tale is being lived and for generations to come, Grandmas will be telling the tales of a big brown dog that taught life's lessons by example.
-Keep running...success is just around the corner.
-Stay passive...patience remains a virtue.
-Make friends...one can never have too many.
-Be curious...opportunities can be found in garbage.
-Don't bark...no one enjoys a grouch.
It isn't often one gets to live a fairy tale but Bruno's story is the stuff of legends. It's a story trying to capture the connection between man and beast...the aura one pet can create...and the joys of cruisin' joyfully through life.
On a beauty scale of one to ten, Bruno hits all ten...take your pick. If it's the first time you've met him, he'll rank pretty low, somewhere between scary and ugly. A few minutes later, Bruno becomes beautiful, friendly, loving and a string of adjectives too long to list.
In the Longville community, Bruno is an Ambassador, Wonder Dog, Town Mascot, etc., etc., and, above all, a living creature enjoyed by all.
Officially, Bruno belongs to Debbie and Larry LaVallee who reside four miles north of Longville.
Unofficially, Bruno belongs to the 156 residents of Longville plus the thousand of adjacent lake dwellers and tourists who make their annual trip to the North Woods.
Bruno is about 11, Larry guesses as he recalls that he was found on the road at the end of his lane, put in a cardboard box and delivered to them as the motorist believed the puppy was theirs. The LaVallees had just buried their pet dog and Debbie wasn't ready for another. Larry was. The next year he and Bruno shared his shed and "bonded."
Bruno never stops running, owning every area highway and byway with his familiar loping gait which has covered an amazing 40-mile span from Broadwater Lodge to Northern Lights. He'll run with anyone at anytime anywhere with no fear of traffic which is often backed up because he is either claiming the white center line or has decided to take a nap.
And, Bruno appears to run with a purpose as his daily routes are like the local cop running his beat. Circling in and through Longville's Main Street, his stops are regular, knowing which merchant has his treats of choice.
One can only guess the miles Bruno has run this past decade. It's eight miles round-trip from home to Main Street so, just for starters, do the math.
Bruno also love parties and gatherings. Once, he was missing for two days and was located enjoying a neighbor's birthday party. At Salem Lutheran Church's annual Bible school, Bruno is a regular visitor. How he knows about it, no one knows.
Every Longville merchant, resident and tourist has lived, or heard, a Bruno story.
In last winter's brutal weather, Realtor Pat Moran invited the icy snow covered Bruno into his office. However, he refused the food he was offered...he is a picky eater, confirmed Debbie.
At Patrick's, Bruno often holds court at the front door with patrons walking around him to get into the popular dining place.
At Frosty's, Bruno often finds almost empty ice cream cartons which create an amusing sight as the dog sticks his head deep into the containers to enjoy that last lick. Debbie couldn't figure out for awhile what he came home encrusted in ???
Many have given Bruno a ride home late afternoons, including neighbors Marleen and Jim Morris who commented about how well he listens. "When we tell him it's time to go home he does," noted Marleen.
Often the first question heard each spring from a snowbird or tourist is, "How's Bruno?" Concern for the animal's welfare never stops as the LaVallees have been called several times to tell them that maybe Bruno has been dog-napped as he's in a vehicle not recognized.
Larry believes that Bruno is part wolf with maybe a mix of Cheasapeak and Golden Lab breeds. And, while he has a heated place to sleep, he often selects a snow bank. At least twice, he has tangled with wild animals but before the LaVallees could respond others had taken him for help.
"Bruno's passive nature, I believe, was learned from Larry," Debbie notes. "They spent so much time together when he was a puppy." While acknowledging the compliment, he smiles a bit but continues to talk about their beloved pet.
And while all fairy tales end happily-ever-after, so does this one as Bruno's story today will be re-told by generations to come.
"Once upon a time, there was a big brown dog...And, his name was Bruno."