Brian and Lulu and the Human-Animal Bond

Lulu in Charleston Years after the Gas Explosion

It was a small little “something” under the skin on Lulu’s hip. No Veterinarian on earth would have found the growth during a routine examination, but Brian did. No bigger than the reward from a shelled sunflower seed; it was tiny.

So what is the difference between Brian and some other pet owner that latches their dog onto the chain in the backyard? The one’s whose level of care starts and ends with a bowl of food and fresh water. You know the type; no heartworm or flea preventative and nary a visit to the Vet, versus Brian, the guy who found a little “something” during a nightly routine of lovingly massaging his girl.

Consider this.

The calm of a quiet April morning in the resort town of Breckenridge, Colorado is shattered when a gas explosion levels the building Brian calls home. Boom!! One second he’s stepping out of the shower, the next he’s buried up to his chest in a crush of timbers and drywall. His arms immobilized to his side, Brian is literally entombed as he waits. Rescuers are on the way and are fearful of what they may find when they notice debris hanging from trees a quarter mile from the blast site. At ground zero, the feeling fades from Brian’s legs as a half-hour passes before he hears the voices of rescuers calling out to him, to anyone. For the next hour plus, the men from Breckenridge’s Red White and Blue Fire Department play a methodical game of “pick-up sticks,” carefully digging and tunneling to avoid making what is already bad, worse. They find him ‘five feet down and ten feet in’ according to the Summit County Correspondent report.

Briand and Lulu Pre Gas Explosion

Brian and Lulu Pre Gas Explosion

Lulu, Brian’s Springer Spaniel? No where to be found; blown in an opposite direction from Brian in the detonation.

Briand and Lulu Post Explosion

Brian and Lulu Post Explosion

‘When we move you, it’s not going to feel very good,’ were the words that told Brian the seriousness of his injuries. A snowmobile rushes him to a helicopter, where the rush continues over the continental divide to a Denver Hospital. His left leg is amputated above the knee and truth be told, that is what leads me to this amazing story.

I’m guilty. A young amputee in my exam room stirs a morbid curiosity. I think he’s a war vet, of course, and I’m overcome with a terminal case of Googlitis and search his name for the where and how. The entire clinic is inspired by the story and compelled to share it after it absorbs us.

Thinking of Brian in a hospital bed, realizing the condition he is in, I would expect that he would lose hope that his dog fared any better than he did. Wouldn’t you think so too? But, he didn’t. On the eighth day the phone rings at Brian’s bedside. Lulu has been found beneath the rubble…alive…Eight days later!! Lulu has nary a scratch and according to Brian, his best friend is only a “bit hungry.” The guess is she survives by drinking the water from melting snow as it trickles into her tomb; an amazing story.

Imagine the boost to Brian’s morale at the reunion of this man and his dog in the hospital when the boy’s family brings Lulu to him. His companion will be by his side with friends and family over the next six weeks as Brian works through the slow process of finding normalcy and leaving the hospital. All indications are that Brian and Lulu have found that normalcy seven years later, here in the Lowcountry.

Brian and Lulu Reunited

Brian and Lulu Reunited

What a pleasure to meet him and know there is nothing so small with his Lulu that Brian won’t seek attention or a remedy for it. By the way, that small little “something,” barely palpable under Lulu’s skin, is a benign nothing.

The difference between Brian’s attention to his dog and another’s lack of concern is the bond; a remarkable connection between a man and his dog that should serve to remind us all that our dogs are there for us without question.

Special thanks to Brian for the reminder that all of us need to return that loyalty. You inspire us.

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