Posts Tagged With: Gwen

The Jordanian Comes of Age

11218233_10206445599236191_6241923071895765755_oAs you may recall….

A year ago, the awesome Captain Cassie Wyllie rescued two pups from a military base in Jordan. With the help of the equally awesome folks at Puppy Rescue Mission, the two made it to the United States. One, Gwenie, reached Independence, Oregon where she has spent the last year eating furniture, getting us both covered in skunk stench, digging massive holes in the backyard, destroying the back fence and otherwise committing dog-atrocities while simultaneously fearing random things like naked cherub statues and most people. She goes absolutely berzerk when two high school lovers stop every day after school to canoodle on the sidewalk beside the house, so apparently she is not a Must Love Dogs fan.

When Gwen first came to Oregon, I could not get her to walk on a leash more than twenty or thirty feet from the house. Everything terrified her. She would venture a little ways out then freeze up. Looking sad and pathetic, she’d try to return to the front yard, growing increasingly frantic if I held firm on the leash.12027538_10206663754649940_7146249913541483235_n

Thanks to Ryder, Renee’s happy-go-lucky Aussie Shepherd, Gwenie gradually emerged from her shell. Her first Christmas was spent at the Oregon coast, where she explored on the beach with Ryder and the rest of the family. Since then, she has become a little more daring every day.

What we didn’t see was any happiness in her. She would explore and run around. She would come home to eat another section of the couch. She’d sleep beside me at night, but she always had such a lost and sad expression on the face that I wondered if she would ever know anything but degrees of less anxiety.


First beach trip about 5 weeks after Gwen arrived.

Today all that changed. I’ve been up in the woods working on the edits for Indestructible and I woke up this morning to snow. Snow is a big deal for me. Being from the Silicon Valley, I only experienced it a few times as a kid on ski trips. Renee and Ed have inherited the same exuberance for snow that I’ve got, so I gave the family a call and asked them to come up. Jenn stuffed two kids, one adult and three dogs into my Pontiac GTO and drove up here. Seriously, when they arrived, it looked like a Bruning clown car exploded. Dogs and kids running about joyfully, parents looking happily chagrined.


Today at Detroit Lake.

We walked around Detroit Lake and over to Piety Island (currently a peninsula) and I noticed that Gwen obeyed everything we told her. When she got too close to a cliff and we called out to her, she came back over to us. When she was hassling our little dog Mizette and we told her to stop, she did. Far from the unruly hurricane of chaos and mayhem we’ve come to know and love, she was playing within the rules today.

I started taking pictures, and right away I saw something different through the view finder. Gwen raced around us, letting Ryder chase her. She is fast and graceful and lithe, a beautiful sight to behold when she is in full stride.


Today, I swear she was smiling. Lit up, happiness radiating from her, she played and capered with all of us. She chased snowballs and jumped into a pond to wade around in search of driftwood to carry back ashore. This was a totally unexpected development, as she has always feared water. Today, she had no fear.G86A9675

As I took photos of her and the family, it dawned on me that she’s settled down. Whatever horrible things happened to her before she reached our loving arms no longer plague her. This is her home now; she has started to love it, and find comfort and tons of fun within the circle of her adopted family.G86A9655

Tonight she is with me at the cabin. The family went home at dusk. She’s exhausted and filled with warm chicken soup, which she convinced me to share with her by putting her chin on my lap as I ate. As I write, she’s curled up in front of the wood stove, eyes closed in peaceful repose.

My wild little pup has come of age.G86A9638

Now, if we can just get her to stop murdering innocent rolls of scotch tape and eating the kids’ home made Christmas ornaments…. baby steps. Baby steps.



Categories: Gwenie's Story | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Back from the Writing Marathon


Cabanistan, my writing retreat.

Friends and Readers,


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Digby in the woods during a rare break in his woodland critter spree killing.

My apologies for being absent from this page for these past few months. Gwen and Digby (another foundling cat) have been up in the Oregon mountains with me as I’ve separated myself from daily life to get the Indestructible manuscript finished. Frankly, it got pretty lonely up there in the Cascades away from the family. At times I went two weeks without seeing anyone besides the clerk at the nearest market four miles away.  The last month up there is all sort of a blur, but I do believe I began to talk to the trees and at some point befriended a mouse that kept getting into the cabin to eat my English muffins. At one point, he ate half a tomato sitting on the kitchen counter while I was in the shower and Digby the cat sacked out on the couch. That level of brazen had to be rewarded, so I began feeding him too. Digby and DeShawn (the mouse) entered into some sort of unholy domestic-woodland creature alliance that ensured there would be no bloodshed between them.


The family came up with Ryder for a weekend. I wanted to sing Some Enchanted Evening when Ryder and Gwen spotted each other for the first time in a week. (Ryder is the blur at the bottom left).

When at home in the Willamette Valley, Digby is a lazy, dump truck sized cat with a big waddle of fat that slops from side to side on those rare moments where he engages in any sort of cardio exercise. See the video below for his inspiring mellowness. If he were a person, he’d be that 25 year old kid playing Xbox all day in his grandma’s basement eating funions and drinking Mountain Dew. Passive, perpetually happy and mild mannered, Digby turned into a murderous beclawed machine of death when I took him up into the Cascades with me. Seriously, I thought I brought a furry lump with which to decorate the couch. Instead, I unleashed a spree killer on the local woodland creatures. He’d go outside, and within minutes, voles, mice, rats, chipmonks and even a salamander ended up victimized. So I ended up living for a month with the feline version of Hannibal Lechter, yet he never ate DeShawn–the one creature inside the cabin.11885276_10206361739579752_7239250386173235472_n - Copy

Gwen hung out with me at times up there too, but our now-full grown Jordanian refugee spent her time in the woods pining for Ryder, our Aussie Shepherd. As much as she is my dog, her heart belongs to the Aussie. While I wrote, she would pace restlessly around the cabin, occasionally howling as she looked around for Ryder and wondered why anyone could be so cruel as to separate her from her pack.  Long walks and runs to the lake didn’t seem to calm her down. At one point, she decided to eat some of my secondary sources including a volume of Cate & Craven’s history of the USAAF during WWII.  I draw the line at chewing up books, so Gwen went back to the valley and Digby stayed with me to ensure the enforced solitude would not cause long-term insanity.

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Thanks to the drought, not much water in the lake this summer.

Anyhoo, once I finished Indestructible, I came out of isolation and have been enjoying some much needed family time. My daughter Renee is a senior in high school now, and I am determined to see as much of her final year as I can. Ed is a freshman, just had his first slow dance, and is in the school’s fall musical. So, I’ve been spending my time photographing their fall term and taking lots of walks with Ryder and Gwen.

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Renee’s first day of senior year with her new ride, which was my first ride. Anyone know what it is??

I’m back to it now, and in the coming weeks, we’ll have some unusual stories to share here, including an update on the Last Lost Letter,  a story about a legendary Marine’s shower shoes, and how they went from Guadalcanal to Tarawa with two different great American warriors. We’ll also have more stories to share from the Japanese side of the Pacific War and some fantastic photographs from the Korean War So stay tuned, and happy Fall to all of you!


Ed and I on prom night last spring, right before I went into the woods for the first major writing session for Indestructible.






John R. Bruning


Warriors of the Homeland. Eugene Police Department training in an active shooter exercise.


Categories: Gwenie's Story, Writing Notes | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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