Bonnie Bracken February 1, 2007 - August 1, 2019
Bracken's paw print from Crossroads • tribute • tribute #2 - small • 02/01/17 to 08/01/19 • Memories • compilation • BrackMarchToJuly19 • Bracken June 10,2019 to August 1, 2019 video • 2007 to 2008 • Tree
Best example of Bracken's spirit is this video of Bracken getting to go for a ride
Bonnie Brack February 1, 2007 - August 1, 2019
On June 11th, we got up and found that Bracken didn't have control of her left side. She was exhausted after running up and down the stairs scared of thunderstorms the past couple of days. We should have immediately closed her in the second bath, but thought she'd calm down.
Our vet sent us to the north Austin vet hospital where they said it might be a more severe stroke or a brain tumor. They recommended steroids to see how she responded. Between the steroids and her incredible determination, she continued for seven weeks.
The morning August 1, 2019 Bracken could not walk at all. Chris had stayed with her the night before and ended up having to lift and support Bracken's hips to enable her to go out and pee. We called the Crossroads vet and they scheduled an 11:30 am appointment. went took Bracken for her last ride, bought a couple of hamburgers and sat in the car under a shade tree for awhile.
She was twelve and a half exactly on August 1st. She had a good life, but boy do we realize how much she was ingrained in our every moment.
Chris and Martin traded nights staying with Bracken from June 11th to August 1st, as she needed to go out 4+ times at night due to the steroids she was taking
Chris with Bracken • Chris Bracken, Martin & Taffie
July 28th Bracken chased bunny then patrolled in the woods • Martin with Bracken
Chris, Taffie, Bracken and Martin on a cool late July evening • video
Chris is getting the long ramp for Bracken when she became unable to make it up the short one.
Bracken at Hyde Park July 22nd while Chris and David met and back home • Watching rabbit at Bill's
Bracken at the stable, went for ride July 21st then Chris gave her a bath and brushing
Bracken and Martin HEB July 19th • Bracken & Martin back porch July 24th - seemed she was doing well
Chris and Bracken at the stable • Holly (farrier)
Bracken & Martin out for regular morning walk on July 14th, riding back from Austin and in the master bedroom - Bracken was so up and alert all the time.
Chris and Bracken at the stable • Bracken in Martin's studio
Bracken and Martin waiting for Chris at HEB • Brack watching Chris prepare supper and at the stable
waiting for Chris in the morning • sleeping
Chris, Taffie and Bracken out front grazing • video
We took Bracken to Wendy's - fries, no thank you! Hamburger, yes please! And a drink!
Bracken watching Chris and Taffie getting ready for ride and heading out July 9th
Bracken July 1, 2019
A memorial tree for Bracken and Troubador
In memory of both Bracken and Troubador, on October 13, 2019, we planted a Texas Live Oak tree in the back beside Bach's pecan tree. A portion of Bracken and Troubador's ashes were scattered around the smaller Live Oak in the front yard. That tree was chosen because Bracken and Troubador were always chasing squirrels to that tree. The rest of the ashes were scattered around the new tree in back. Taffie stood in the coral watching us spread the ashes. She had seemed to note Bracken's struggles the last couple of months. When we went inside after scattering the ashes, a squirrel came around the new tree and then went and laid on one of the fence spars near the tree, Was this the squirrel who always came up to the back porch and teased Bracken? They had many fun chases! Maybe...just interesting. video
A Day with Bracken (Brack/Bonnie Bracken)
To provide some perspective, Bracken was born February 1, 2007. We acquired her in Austin on March 23, 2007. She joined Troubador who was born November 26, 2004 and came to us on September 9, 2005. When we built our home/studio/stable in 2002, we included an air conditioned room for our previous dogs, Bach and Sasha. Bracken and Troubador would sleep in their room, however would be in the house during the day. Both Bracken and Troubador loved to be inside, but also loved the outdoors as we had all kinds of critters and room for them to roam. Unfortunately Trou really liked to roam. So shortly after he came to us from Houston, we installed an electric fence to help keep him in our yard. The fence was turned off when Trou became ill and never used again. We also had a divider in the Murano that kept Bracken and Troubador in the back. This was removed after Troubador passed away. Bracken was very good about staying in the back. Only once she came in the driver's seat when two dogs came by while Chris and I were out seeing a horse (below).
When Troubador became ill in August 2009, we stopped using the electric fence and collars. After Troubador passed November 5, 2012, Bracken still slept in their room in the garage. Then on August 20, 2014, our main downstairs air conditioner went out and was not fixed for 6+ days. We were in a string of 100 degree days. Bracken could not stay in the hot dog room, so we allowed her to be inside with us. She could sleep under a fan. Well, she never returned to the dog room, thus becoming an even closer family member and a total part of our daily routine. She never damaged anything, nor peed, nor pooped in the house until her stroke. Well that's not true.
When Bracken was about six months old, she chewed part of Martin’s motorcycle front fender and a side cover. We bought a baby fence and put it around the motorcycle. She was always respectful of things in the house. Very rarely, if we were gone too long, she might take some dirt out of a planter and throw it on the ground sending a message of dissatisfaction. While attending a reunion in Alpine, she felt we left her in the room at Antelope Lodge too long and distributed her food around the living room. Oh, and she also chewed one of Chris' horse brushes and a bed in their dog's room. Other than that, Bracken was perfect!
In 2017, Bracken began having really low energy and did not want to do much. We were afraid we were going to lose her. Chris had started Bracken on Cosequin, as she's had a bad right hip. Unfortunately, early in her life Bracken began rolling over on her right hip when she sat down. That caused a problem when she had the stroke effecting her left hip. In 2016 when we took her to the Crossroads Vet, Dr. Halley asked to check her thyroid levels. They were low and when we began giving her the thyroid pills, she turned into a puppy again and had great energy. She lost 20+ pounds. Giving her the pills was difficult, so Chris found some dog chicken rolls at HEB that Bracken liked and it was much easier.
Bracken was unusually healthy over her life. She had an episode with the shock collar causing her to severely bite her tongue causing it to swell for several days when she was just 8 months old. Over the years, she had mites in her ears and we'd treat it with dog ear solution. She wore a flea collar, but still required some flea shampoo. She had a coupe of ticks, but for all the time she spent in our woods, it could have been worse. Later in life, as she slowed down, we began having to get her claws trimmed. Later, she also had a recurring vagina, or urinary infection and had to be on antibiotics.
Bracken experienced two unfortunate falls during the last month. One time as she prepared to come down the ramp her paws pushed the ramp off the Murano, sending her and the ramp down. She handled it fine and never fell over. Bracken was normally good about waiting for us to get the ramp in place and open the back. The last week, when we took Bracken to the Crossroads, instead of waiting, she was leaning against the back and fell to the ground on her side. She never whimpered or whined on those occasions or ever. She did look in pain when bit by the scorpion.
CBD had been recommended to us and we tried it once, but felt that she did worse. I read an article by someone that found CBD worked really well for their dog and I suggested we give it to her on the evening of July 31. I now have second thoughts , wondering did that cause her problems the morning of August 1st? We'll never know, but probably not. I look at video of Bracken over the last couple of months and while she's mentally alert and striving to overcome all the left side problems, you can see she is really tired.
I've seen differing estimates of dog vs human life spans. One current chart calculates twelve and half year old Bracken to have been akin to a human being 80 years old.
Our day with Bracken would start out early in the morning when Chris would get up to take care of the horses. This was usually about 7 o’clock. After Troubador passed away and Bracken became a house dog, Bracken would often come through from her bed in the living room and wake us at 7:00 am (no alarms needed). Later in life, she not come through, but would bark around 7:00 am. Unfortunately that slowly became less and less over the last several months.
So back to our morning routine. Chris or I one would give Bracken her morning pills. Then Bracken would follow Chris out to the stable as she fed Taffie (and prior to Taffie, Dancer and KD). Bracken would wander through the back of the stable, or explore over by Dry Creek that runs along the side of our property. Often, she'd just lie down and keep an eye on what Chris was doing.
When Chris came back in we would have breakfast. If I was still getting ready, Bracken would come to the master bath and push open the door and say hi! As I prepared my breakfast, I liked almond‘s on my cereal and always gave Bracken six or more sea salt almonds which she enjoyed. Then she would sit with us as we ate in the living room watching the morning news. When we were through with breakfast we'd take Brack out front of the house checking for bunnies. We'd say "let's go check for bunnies" and Bracken would leap up, beating us to the front door. Often there would be something to chase. When we came back in, Chris would go finish up at the stable and I would normally go upstairs to my studio.
Bracken always kept an eye on both of us. She'd go with, or watch Chris when she'd go out to the stable and prepare Taffie to go for a ride. Then she'd watch for her to comeback. Sometimes Bracken and I would meet Chris and Taffie when they returned. Bracken and Taffie were always respectful of each other.
Our stairs had a landing half way up that provided a view out the front and Bracken could see out the back. This enabled her to keep up with both of us. Until later in her life she would spend some time in the studio with me, but preferred the landing. We bought mats for places she like to lay down, plus she had her beds.
At 10 o’clock in the morning, Bracken would often bark and I would come down and she'd be waiting at the bottom of stairs. We'd go out the front door and over toward the woods by the creek and walk around looking for bunnies or squirrels.
Around noon, Bracken would once again come get us us or bark to let us know it was time for lunch. Bracken would come into the kitchen and lie down as lunch was prepared. She could always depend on receiving cheese bits and other food scraps. She would come through to the living room and sit with us and receive pieces of cheese, or lunch meat. Then when we were done we would have some more pieces of cheese or other snacks waiting in the kitchen.
Video clip from September 2016 showing how often we went out with Bracken (also working on the camera)
After lunch we take a short walk outside, Chris would often go get the mail and then Chris and I would return to our offices. Another time when Bracken would bark to let us know it was 3 o’clock and time for an afternoon ice cream break. We would give her dog cookies and let her lick the ice cream cups. Chris found some dog peanut butter cookies she really liked. Sometimes we go to DQ and Bracken would get the bottom of the cones.
We’ve been Bracken’s “pack”since Trou passed. So most afternoons after an ice cream break, around 3:00pm, we walk with Bracken all the way around our home, checking for critters and giving her an opportunity to go. Often coming back up to the front door, Bracken would scratch her back along the bushes. These bushes were hers from the beginning as she played ball with Troubador running in and out of the bushes. video
Speaking of cookies Bracken was very adept at blocking our way when we were walking and requesting cookies for us to pass. She was never pushy, but deliberate.
I'd go exercise after our ice cream break. When I was done, I would go through to Bracken. She'd be on her bed or in the dining room. I'd hug her and give her a couple of cookies. Then return to my office. The rest of the afternoon, if she needed anything, she'd let one of us know.
Bracken loved being in the kitchen when Chris was preparing supper after she'd brought Taffie in. We'd always give her some snacks and we would watch the news as we’re having supper.
After supper we would normally go out and sit on the porch, listen to the jukebox, or watch something on TV. For a long time Bracken stayed with us while the TV was on. However in the last year, when we are watching movies and there’s some loud sound, she really would try to get us to turn off the TV. We found that Bracken could go into the master bedroom away from the sound and she was comfortable. It was only in later years that Bracken became more sensitive to loud noises, thunderstorms and fireworks. We had been impressed because Troubadour (her companion who passed away on November 5, 2012) was always scared of thunderstorms and fireworks and she wasn’t.
In December when she may have experienced a minor stroke, she started having trouble hearing in her left ear. So when you would call, or talk to her she’d always turn to the right. The vet thought that it may have affected her left eye sight as well. If you were giving her a cookie and you approached from the left, she still kind of drew back. Then if you circle around so you’re on her right, she'd take the cookie
While on the front porch, we often had squirrels, rabbits, or armadillos that would wonder onto the lawn from the creek area. It was really fun for Bracken as she would chase them. She often also chased squirrels earlier in the day. We had a squirrel regularly come up on the back porch and sit on the railing or sit on the ground floor and harass her. If we couldn’t get here quick enough Brack would be really anxious. As soon as Bracken went out, the squirrel would quickly jump onto the roof.
Bracken very often chased squirrels between the trees in the front yard. One time Bracken completed a long chase and at the end brought back a filter, or paint face mask. Guess she felt we deserved to receive something.
In the evening Chris would go out to feed Taffie. Bracken would go with us and again maybe go into the stable or go out and back and comeback through checking things out. Then she would lie down as Chris finished working with Taffie. I would toss Bracken cookies as she laid in the lawn outside the stable.
Then we all came in. Even though we had just been out to the stable, we had a ritual with Bracken that we would go out the front door and say we were going to "check on bunnies" one last time . She’d go out and around the front yard and do anything she needed to do and that was it for the night. Bracken would come back in and go to bed or lay down in the dining room. When it was warm she would lay down in the dining room under air-conditioning. Many night for a long time she wouldn't need to go out all night.
Another behavior we noticed in the last couple months was she really wanted to spend a lot of time close to Chris. Bracken spent more time around the stable, or would go back and sleep for a while in the master bedroom. She’d come get us if she needed to go out. Then she went through a period where she didn’t get up to come get us, she would just bark. However she always took care of it outside. She never did anything in the house, until she had the stroke last month. Then it became necessary for one, or the other of us to sleep in the living room so we would be able to get up with her multiple times a night. Then later the steroids made her have to go even more.
Weekends were always special. For a long time Bracken could count on going for rides on both Saturday and Sunday. Then it became even more frequent. Her excitement when you offered her a ride was transforming. She became a young puppy bouncing around and corralling us out the door. Right up until June 11, 2019, when asked “if she wanted to go?”, Bracken would trot down the hall as I went to retrieve my car keys. Then she would perform all kinds contortions, sometimes nipping you. Bracken was always a subtle nipper. Sometimes you didn’t know you’d been nipped until a bruise appeared. On these trips, as soon as we entered Highway Old 71, I'd open the back windows (come rain, or shine) and Bracken would have her head out most of the way home.
It's funny how habits are formed. One of our most regular trips in recent years was to the HEB in Bastrop. My mobility had become limited, so Chris had begun doing all the shopping. We began taking Bracken. Bracken and I would stay in the Murano, while Chris bought groceries. Bracken enjoyed watching everyone. When it was cool, we'd have the windows open and when it was hot we sat in the air conditioning. it amazed me that Bracken never slept when we were out for a ride, or even when parked. If we went inside a store or restaurant and she was in the car, she stayed on high alert. Over the past year, we installed a couple of cameras to check on her when she stayed home. We found that when we were gone, she also did not sleep and was on high alert waiting for us to come home.
Bracken's favorite joy by far was hanging her head out the back windows and going fast. We always closed them on the highway, but we might getup to 60 mph before she came inside. It made it even better if there was a dog or something to bark at (dogs at HEB next to us - left). She learned that we did not approve of her barking at people, or horses.
In the past couple of years, Bracken hardly ever missed a day that she didn’t get to go for a ride and for a hamburger most weekends. Bracken would sit in the back of my Murano (she had the whole back to herself ). So she would sit in the back on a couple of old beds she used to have and put her paws over the front of the front bed right between our seats. It was just like being in the front with us.
We liked to go to Trudy's for breakfast on weekends or Friday night supper. Bracken would almost always go with us on the Sunday morning Trudy's trips. We would always order bring her out some bacon. Sometimes it was too hot and we couldn't take her.
Bracken loved to take trips with us. We made several trips to Alpine over the years and other shorter trips. Bracken was welcomed into Carl and Alice's home in Midland when we were visiting a couple of times. Staying in a motel, Bracken would settle right in. She really took everything in stride, even when I would put my coat or a hat on her.
I know Chris and I gave up going out on our own as often as we used to do in order to give Bracken these opportunities. Although Bracken was always good about being left home alone. Sometimes we’d have a neighbor look after her. One time we went to Denver to see Joan Baez and hired a girl named Erica to stay with Bracken several nights. Erica took care of Taffie as well, as did Barbara.
When we built the new home in 2002, Bach and Sasha decided they needed to get on the back porch without using the gate. They created their own entrance by shifting a railing spar. Troubador and Bracken continued using it. in fact, it became Bracken's entrance of choice and the spar was permanently removed..
Speaking of beds, Bracken had several very nice beds. One time, Chris ordered Bracken a new bed. When it arrived folded up in plastic in a box, Chris pulled it out of the box and Bracken quickly laid on it before we could unwrap it. No clue how she knew that it was hers.
Bracken loved being brushed by Chris. We also gave her a bath periodically. She was not happy when we began, but was always cooperative.
We had a friend that said she was surprised to hear us talking to Bracken like she was a person. Bracken was family! Chris always said Bracken had a good sense of the English language. There were lots of comments we could make to her and she'd respond uncannily.
Some other reflections:
Bracken truly had a good life. She was exposed to all kinds of critters, including cows that wondered into the property next to us. there were deer that passed through the pastures and our yard. Coyotes wandered through as well, especially by the creek. Bracken experienced (as did we) two skunk encounters over her years. She had squirrels on the run most of the year. Rabbits and armadillos would come out from the Dry Creek woods while we'd be on the front porch. Bracken was an excellent stalker, but never wanted to actually catch any of them. However one time she and Troubador caught and picked up an armadillo and couldn't figure out what to do, so they dropped it back on the ground. One time we found a live but scared rabbit in the garage. We suspected that Bracken caught it and left it alone to show us. It finally moved on after being frozen in place for a short while. Chris captured two raccoons in the stable who were stealing the horse feed. Bracken went up to the raccoon cage and was surprised by the ferocity of the raccoon.
Troubador was a wanderer early in his life. He always came home, but would go next door and often toward the street. So we installed a wireless fence and used the electric collars. It helped. However if Troubador chased a squirrel or rabbit, the fence made no difference as he went through it so fast. Bracken would be right behind him. Bracken was always good about coming back and that's when the fence would be a problem. After Troubador passed away, Bracken stayed in the yard all the time. She also never went down to the Dry Creek. Bach and Sasha went into the creek when we first bought the property. It was scary because the banks were so steep. They couldn't get out, but luckily the found a spot to crawl out and never went back, which was good. The first year we had her, Bracken somehow became locked into the the shock zone and ended up severely biting her tongue. Bracken rarely wore a collar at all except when she left home to go for a ride. Then putting on a collar became a treat as Bracken was "getting to go."
Troubador liked getting ice from the fridge. Ice made Bracken sick, so she would get a dog treat when Trou got ice. This went on the rest of Bracken's life. When I'd get ice for my drink, Bracken would receive a dog cookie.
While Troubador learned sit, stay, roll over and chased balls, Bracken did not. She excelled at coming every time she was called, but was not into tricks or balls. Bracken had a small stuffed squirrel and a small stuffed boomerang for a short time. Chris took Bracken through obedience school in May 2009, but she retained her independence to the end. Bracken was serious about protecting us and the property.
For a long time Bracken was the exuberance police. If we got excited watching a football game, or we'd laugh loudly during a movie, Bracken would come over and place a paw our knee as if to say "too much exuberance!" Some of the time she would go up onto the second landing on our stairs. One time when Dallas won a last minute football game with a touchdown, we were all excited. We looked up and Bracken had flipped on her back with her back legs in the air - like "touchdown." We laughed until our sides hurt.
When we built our current home, we included an air conditioned dog room with a dog door in the garage for Bach and Sasha. Troubador and Bracken used the room. When Bracken came into heat, we hoped to mate her with Troubador. However she was not interested. Given Trou's later illness, maybe that was a good thing. We closed off into the room when she was in heat and shut the dog door, so she couldn't get out. However we came out to the garage and she was out of the dog room. Then it happened again. Watching through the outside door, we saw she was opening the main door herself. Video
Bracken loved water. She and Troubador had great fun early on after a heavy rain chasing each other around the fence between our and our neighbor Bill's home. Later we provided a large bucket of water for her in hot weather. video She was known to attack the water sprinklers on occasions.
Troubador would wander over to Bill's home next door. Bracken would follow him. When we called them, Trou was reluctant to come, but Bracken always came when called her entire life.
Troubador loved our getting rib bones from Don's Bar-B-Q, however Bracken never was excited about bones. She liked the brisket. She loved cheese (especially Tillamook). Oh course hamburgers and other people food. She actually like some fish. Mostly she ate dry dog food and early in her life, she was given some canned dog food.
When Troubador was diagnosed with encephalitis, he was referred to A&M where a Dr. Wolf (left) treated him. Through their care, they gave us several more years with Troubador. Bracken would go with us for the Trou's checkups at A&M and was very loving and supportive to Trou.
Bracken was also respectful of people who came to the house. Once she knew we were okay with them, she never hassled anyone. She did always sound ferocious when the door bell rang. On the other hand, while she was very close to Troubador, we didn't socialize her sufficiently around other dogs, so she was always overly protective. (Chris and Barbara with Bracken and Qasey left)
After Troubador passed away, we took a trip to California and left Bracken in a new and unfamiliar kennel. She’d always been with Trou in kennels, never by herself. She panicked, was traumatized and even tried to chew through the cage’s chain link fence. Previously and a few times later, she was happy at the Canine Hilton, however it closed. We never left her in a kennel after that. If Chris went back to the UK, or to seen family in the States, I'd stay home with Bracken. I don’t totally know why I made such a serious commitment to Bracken. I suppose guilt over what she was put through in the kennel.
Secondly, after Trou passed, I would look at movies of playing ball with Bracken and Troubador. Troubador lived to chase and always carried a tennis ball around. We tried to encourage Bracken to play with a ball(she had a oversized orange ball she’d sometimes play with). But she just wasn’t into ball playing, partially because Troubador been very possessive of his tennis balls. She was serious about chanting squirrels, rabbits and armadillos.
However while watching those movies of Trou running and chasing balls we were throwing and also slinging, I suddenly saw sadness in Bracken as she watched. I felt that Troubador’s illness had taken our attention away from Bracken. She made an effort all the time, but still I saw sadness and I swore that I would make it up to her.
After Troubador passed, we considered finding Bracken a new companion. However she seemed to be enjoying being the center of attention. She had given a lot of support to Troubador after his long illness.
One time Bracken seriously chased a squirrel and brought us back a filter of some kind. Bracken was truly good "most of the time." When she was young she crews up Martin's new motorcycle fender and battery cover. She also chewed on a horse brush and sprinkler. On occasions when she was really excited, like getting ready to go, she would give us a nip, bite at a plant, or throw something. If we were gone sometimes, she would remove some dirt from one of the planter. On a trip to Alpine we left her in a motel room too long and she spread he food all over a room.
Bracken would tolerate and be amused by my briefly placing my coat on her back and hats on her head, One wonderful memory was often when I told Bracken that I loved her she would give me a double blink. I always took that as acknowledgement.
Over time Bracken's beds kept getting upgrades and her old beds would go to the Murano. Then often she preferred to sleep on the cooler dining room floor, the living room floor, or the master bedroom and even occasionally the master bath rug. Once she laid down on Chris' exercise mat. When we were traveling, we took one of her beds into the motel/hotel room and she was perfectly happy.
Bracken's bowls also evolved primarily as it became more difficult for her to get up and down to eat. We provided a mat so she could have better traction when lying down. We bought bowls on a rack so she didn't have to bend over to drink. As she splashed more as she drank, Chris found a bowl set that captured the slash where it went into a tray that could be emptied.
Bracken's Photo Gallery
Bracken's Mom and Dad
Martin's Facebook Posts: July 11, 2015 • Touchdown Dec 24, 2013 • planting bone •Bracken's DL • Squirrel •Goggles • Taffie • snow • Midland with Carl and Alice • Marathon • Bastrop SO COP • Monday • German Shepherd won Best of Breed 2017 • Alpine 2016 • Selfies KD & Bracken • Ridgeline • Stairs •
Bracken born 02/01/2007 • 03/23/07 Bracken joined our family! • Registered as Bonnie Bracken • Troubador's response to puppy in Chris' lap
Tribute • Tribute #2 - small • 02/01/17 to 08/01/19 • Memories • compilation • Bracken June 10,2019 to August 1, 2019 video • 2007 to 2008
Go to Part A (January - June 2019) • Go to Part B (July - December 2019