Life Lessons We Learned from Brando (our dog)

Anyone who follows the oopoomoo blog probably knows about our dog, Brando, who starred in several of our photo instructional videos including Proper Use of Zoom Lens for Story-Telling Photos. Brando left us on August 26 for fields filled with ground squirrels, rabbits and jars of peanut butter and no one to tell him ‘leave it’ 😉

Anyone who has had a dog knows how they wag and wiggle their way into your hearts. But even more so dogs teach us important lessons about life and Brando was no exception. Below are twenty life lessons we learned from Brando:

Brando second favorite thing was walks - number one was food!

Brando’s second favorite thing was walks – number one was food!

Lesson 1: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially if you only get fed breakfast!

Lesson 2: Be adaptable… where ever you are is the best place to be.

Lesson 3: Be direct, tell people what you need and want.

Lesson 4: Good hygiene is important; keep your privates parts in order!

Lesson 5: Leave your mark every where you go.

Lesson 6: Puppies are annoying but they deserve patience.

Lesson 7: Always stand up for yourself and your ideals.

Lesson 8: Protect the ones you love.

Lesson 9: Only dumb dogs work for free!

Lesson 10: Don’t look a food gift in the mouth.

Lesson 11. Always lick the hand that feeds you.

Lesson 12: Always lick little kids; they are often covered in food residue.

Lesson 13: Parking lots are gold mines for tasty snacks!

Lesson 14: Everything is an opportunity.

Lesson 15: Don’t waste your time with the wrong people!

Lesson 16: Never complain about things you must do for those you love.

Lesson 17: Stop and smell… everything!

Lesson 18: Trust your instincts.

Lesson 19: There is no bad time for a nap (except at breakfast!)

Lesson 20: Be patient; rewards will come your way.

Going forward in our life, we’ll take Brando’s lessons to heart. If your dog has taught you important life lessons, let us know in the comment section below.

Brando came into my life as a 6-month old puppy on August 26, 2004.

Brando came into our life as a 6-month old puppy on August 26, 2004.

Brando in the morning of his last day on August 26, 2014

Brando in the morning of his last day on August 26, 2014

About the Author

I am a Canadian landscape and outdoor photographer who loves long hikes in the woods, yummy food, hairy dogs, good company and a good guitar jam.

69 Comments

  1. Robert Scott
    September 8, 2014

    So sorry for the news Darwin. I’m lucky to have met him a couple of times. What a good dog.

    Reply
  2. Lawrence
    September 8, 2014

    Sorry to hear of the passing of Brando, Darwin and Sam. My first dog, Nikita was the best partner I have ever had ( I think my wife would understand). She stood by me through good times and bad….and never questioned my choices (may have looked at me like I was an idiot, once or twice). Our dogs become entrenched in our hearts, never to leave. And yes…they do teach us all those life lessons and many more…

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      September 8, 2014

      No judgement and unconditional love… no wonder we like dogs!

  3. Jack Johnson
    September 8, 2014

    Hi, Darwin & Sam –

    I’m so sorry to hear about Brando – my heart goes out to you both…

    Hugs,

    Jack

    Reply
  4. Deb Ehrens
    September 8, 2014

    When my dog Malcolm died two years ago, a good friend sent me this piece written by Eugene O’Neill. I hope it will provide a small bit of comfort for the whole in your hearts.
    http://www.eoneill.com/texts/blemie/contents.htm

    It was only after Malcolm was gone that I realized how much I had “outsourced my sense of personal safety” to him. All the time I was wondering in the woods, tromping around salt marshes paying attention to the light, tides and composition, he was keeping an eye on things, letting me know when someone was approaching. I had to relearn my “street smarts” after his passing.

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      September 8, 2014

      Awesome link Deb… are you still in Iceland?

  5. Wayne Simpson
    September 8, 2014

    Candice and I are so sorry to hear about Brando. I can honestly say that he is one of the best dogs I’ve had the pleasure of meeting! I hope you two take some comfort in knowing that you gave Brando about the best life a dog could ever ask for.

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      September 8, 2014

      Thanks Wayne… you got several of Brando’s signature body checks telling you “hey dummy, pet my ass!”

  6. judy windsor
    September 8, 2014

    I am so sorry to hear about Brando. I could tell that he was well loved. Having just brought a new family member to our house, (a Springer Spaniel from Innisfail AB. called Reuben.) it is easy to see how attached you become in even just a short time. Hugs to you both. Judy

    Reply
  7. Cal Brown
    September 8, 2014

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss Darwin and Samantha. I totally agree with your 20 lessons. I think you might get a chuckle out of the story from our house this morning. It was about 6 am and my husband was just getting out of the shower. I told him I was heading to the beach to photograph the sunrise. I was immediately told that that was not fair to the dogs and that he would be ready in 10 minutes to come with me and bring the dogs. Reluctantly I waited the 10 minutes thinking I was going to miss sun up. The four of us clambered in the Van and spent about the best 45 minutes at the beach that we have had together. And I got some awesome sunrise shots. RIP in Brando, maybe you will meet Henry and Jake (our previous 2 dogs) over the Rainbow Bridge.

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      September 8, 2014

      Cal, patience is the best virtue we learned from Brando… it pays off – glad you had an amazing time, that is what we remember the most!

  8. Chris Fox
    September 8, 2014

    So sorry to hear about Brando. I know you guys enjoyed every moment you had together and I’m sure Brando enjoyed them just as much. I think the life lessons you learned will be of great value to you moving forward, assuming Darwin doesn’t end up in jail for “leaving his mark” somewhere he shouldn’t have.

    Reply
    • Samantha Chrysanthou
      September 9, 2014

      I try to discourage Darwin following this lesson too literally!

  9. Fran Gallogly
    September 8, 2014

    Sorry to hear about Brando. I remember when you were raising money for his cancer treatments. He was much loved and had a good life. I know you miss him a lot.

    Reply
  10. Chuck Kling
    September 8, 2014

    I share your sadness about the loss of your best pal. We have a 2 1/2 year old gray female Standard Poodle. She is our fourth poodle.

    Even though it’s heartbreaking…we always knew we would get another pup.
    They are absolutely part of the family….and we would not have it any other way.

    Our current poodle is named ” Delinda”,,,we named her after Delinda of the Bow Valley pack. I actually photographed Delinda in September 2007, in the Muleshoe parking area, the year before she was killed on the TCH.

    I sent my pic to John Marriott…who confirmed the I.D. I also met Peter Dettling in K-Country, last September and told him my whole story !
    Again my condolences to Samantha and yourself.

    BTW…in just over a week , we are returning to the mountain parks, for the 11th time, since 1988 !

    Chuck Kling / Montreal.

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      September 8, 2014

      Hey Chuck, maybe we’ll see you out there in the big Canadian Rockies playground!

  11. Diane - Daily Walks
    September 8, 2014

    My heart goes out to both of you. Yes, so much to glean from our beloved creatures. Thank you for sharing yours in such a creative way. They all made me smile and say, “ah, yes!”

    Reply
  12. Stephen DesRoches
    September 8, 2014

    Life is so incredibly short to worry about things that don’t matter. I only had the chance to spend 2 days with Brando but that’s all that was needed to fight back the tears looking at these images.

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      September 8, 2014

      Dog people are big sucks… and we are proud of it! Thanks for the nice message Stephen.

  13. al hart
    September 8, 2014

    I never met Brando, but it’s ok. I didn’t need to. I know what you’re going through anyway. I lost my last pooch, Fleabag, to cancer, and my present beast, a wonderful Chocolate Lab pal for the past 14 years named Nikon (truly!) is now 8 months into a terminal cancer originally prognosticated for 6 months. I’ll be shedding my own tears way too soon, but if not presumptuous, I’ll shed a few for the too-small oopoomoo gang right now.

    -al h

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      September 8, 2014

      Thanks Al, it was cancer that got Brando too… my sympathy is with you.

  14. Guy Tal
    September 8, 2014

    Very sorry for your loss, Darwin and Sam. I’m glad I got to meet Brando, however briefly. He was a lucky boy to have you in his life.

    Guy

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      September 8, 2014

      Oh to be reincarnated as a dog belonging to Guy Tal… now that would be a lucky animal!

  15. Shirley
    September 8, 2014

    Darwin and Sam,
    A Beautiful tribute to your Brando.
    So sorry for your loss.My heart goes out to both of you.

    Reply
  16. Gudrun Schulze Ebbinghoff
    September 8, 2014

    I’m sorry Brando finally had to leave; it’s not at all easy to lose a furkid (I had to put my 13.5yo Aussie down last fall — I had her before even meeting my husband!). You created a beautiful piece to honour him, and some wonderful insights. Thank you for sharing them with us.

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      September 8, 2014

      Hi Gundrun,

      I like tat term “furkid” – pretty much sums it up 😉

      Darwin

  17. laura stewart
    September 8, 2014

    Sorry for your loss…so hard to loose our pets, they are a part of our family 🙁 they teach us so many things and love us unconditionaly. What a beautiful tribute to Brando.

    Reply
  18. Peter Amundsen (owned by Morgan a boder collie healer mutt)
    September 8, 2014

    I have sorrow in my heart for your loss. I can only hope I am half the man My mutt Morgan thinks I am. Unfortunately he is old and will leave us alone also too soon. A dog’s love is the most unconditional love given.

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      September 8, 2014

      I hope Morgan is with you longer than you think… a good excuse for more pets and rubs 😉

  19. Kathy Norby
    September 8, 2014

    What a lucky Doggie to have such a wonderful home. Sorry you had to say goodbye.

    Reply
  20. Anne Jutras
    September 8, 2014

    Oooh, I feel so sad to hear about Brando lost… He was a great puppy and a nice friend, I’m sure. There is good lessons to be learn from him, he’ll be well remembered.

    Reply
  21. Lisa Couldwell
    September 8, 2014

    What I’ve learned form Bear, my dog for the last 3 years in addition to you top 20…
    21. Skunks are Satan minions.
    22. Nothing beats a good cat/squirrel/rabbit chase every now and then.

    My condolences on the loss of Brando. I always loved the story of how you got him and how he ended up with his name.

    Reply
    • Samantha Chrysanthou
      September 9, 2014

      Thanks for the additions, Lisa! While Brando never tangled with a skunk, he did get his nose pinched by a giant beetle! The way he leaped into the air, I’m sure he thought something evil indeed had grabbed him! The beetle, of course just trundled on about its day…beetle 1, Brando 0!

  22. Andy Simpson
    September 8, 2014

    Thanks for sharing life’s lessons by Brando. The one about patience with a puppy is one I am learning each day. Lila sure loves to make me little brown cigars each day! She sure is fun though. Hope you guys get to meet her soon.

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      September 9, 2014

      Wow your own cigar maker – lucky you, now if only she can learn to make beer!

  23. Markos Berndt
    September 8, 2014

    I have a special dog in my life and am just starting to take pictures of her to share with everyone. This is a nice send off for a good friend. It is a sad thing to lose a pet that is a friend.

    Reply
  24. Matthew Cromer
    September 8, 2014

    I’m very sorry to hear of the passing of Brando. I’m glad he got to share so much love with you both.

    Reply
  25. Bob Perry
    September 8, 2014

    I’m sorry to hear of Brando’s passing. I’m sorry for your loss

    Reply
  26. Jane Chesebrough
    September 8, 2014

    So very sorry for your loss, Darwin and Samantha, though from my experience, he will always be in your hearts. Great lessons that you have listed and I have one more: that I have learned from my furry friends:…Be enthusiastic. Have fun!

    Reply
  27. Andrea Boyle
    September 8, 2014

    So sorry to hear of your loss. It hurts to lose a good friend and family member. I think often of the pets I have lost and all the happiness they gave me during their brief time here. You have composed a fitting tribute in the video above. My heart is with you both…

    Reply
  28. Heinrich
    September 9, 2014

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful life lesson your pet taught you. It brought tears to my eyes, for I too have 5 lovely dogs of my own and dread the thought knowing that I must one day say goodbye to them.
    May your sorrow soon be replaced by only good memories of Brando.

    From a fellow pet lover in South Africa

    Reply
  29. Lou Cragin
    September 9, 2014

    My heart broke when I opened this page up. So sad for you guys. Our dogs are our teachers, our pals, great listeners, a fellow hiker, a model, family member, provider of stories and laughs, they make it wonderful to come home. wags and kisses, crazy runs in the house and yard and when they look you in the eyes your heart melts.

    You are so lucky to have known and been your dogs friend and pal in return.

    And finally he loved you guys unconditionally and forever, even from the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.

    Bye for now Brando, we all look forward to seeing you.

    Reply
  30. Chris Bone
    September 9, 2014

    Truly sorry to hear about Brando. While I never had the privilege of meeting him I learned a lot about his personality from looking at your photographs of him. Brenda and I know first-hand how you must be feeling because we have always had dogs in our lives. They make even the most difficult times more bearable by just being with us. If there is a problem with our wonderful canine companions it is that they just do not live long enough. Brando was one of the lucky ones, he received at least as much love and friendship as he gave.

    Reply
  31. Simpson Family
    September 9, 2014

    What a beautiful tribute to a cool dog! They boys really liked him (but not the farts!) and will miss him when we visit.

    Reply
  32. Marion Faria
    September 9, 2014

    I am so happy to have met Brando while on your tours…he was a wise soul.
    It was good of him to share his life with you.
    My dog has taught me two things I will never forget: how to love and how to laugh
    take care Darwin and Sam
    I love the song you wrote for Brando

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      September 9, 2014

      Thanks Marion, I forgot you met Brando!

  33. Samantha Chrysanthou
    September 9, 2014

    Thanks, everyone, for the thoughts and well-wishes.

    Reply
  34. Shirley Davis
    September 9, 2014

    So sorry to hear you lost Brando. 🙁 I know pets become like our children, our family, and it’s not easy to say goodbye. It’s wonderful you learned so many lessons from him. Remember the lessons as you remember Brando. My thoughts are with both of you.

    Shirley

    Reply
  35. Pete Carroll
    September 10, 2014

    Hugs Sam and Darwin. Seeing Brando’s photo brings a smile to my face. When you leave this world and leave behind that reaction ya done good.

    Reply
  36. Derrell W
    September 10, 2014

    Darwin & Sam – Sorry to hear about your loss of Brando. Dogs are truly man’s (and woman’s) best friend!

    Reply
  37. Karen C.
    September 11, 2014

    I am truly sorry to hear about the loss of your lovely dog. Having had many furry friends in my life I know it is as difficult as losing a family member. I wanted to recommend a book that helped me with the loss of my dog called “Watson’s Way” by author Joel Lund (http://bit.ly/WatsonsWay). This book is so heart warming and beautifully written about their family dog Watson. For anyone who has ever had the joy of being loved by a pet, this book will instantly tug at your heart strings. There is such a deep spirituality in our pets and they can truly bring out the best in us, and that is exactly what the author shows us in this story. Watson’s Way provides a gentle framework for working through grief and it is an uplifting, feel-good reminder that life lessons are all around us. I hope you will check it out!

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      September 15, 2014

      Hi Karen, thanks for the book recommendation… we’ll check it out

      Darwin

  38. Lisa Couldwell
    September 12, 2014

    Oh a couple more life lessons courtesy of Bear:
    1. The absolute best place to hide meaty bones and assorted treats (to save for later when you have the midnight munchies) is under the pillows of your dearest Human’s bed!
    2, When going to bed for the nite, its always a good idea beat dearest Human upstairs…that way you can always get on the good side of the bed first!
    3. Did you know that some 3 legged dogs cant jump very high? Therefore if you want to keep all your favourite squeaky toys away from them, be sure to stash them on the couch or bed where they can’t play with them!

    Reply
  39. Nathan VDM
    September 12, 2014

    * When you do bite the hand that feeds you, make sure you don’t bite so hard that he can feed you no longer. When he says “OW” back off and look with puppy dog eyes.

    Reply
  40. Branimir Gjetvaj
    September 12, 2014

    Dear Darwin and Sam
    I am sorry to hear about the loss of your family member. I have two adorable tail waggers and sometimes I wonder how would I feel if they are not around to lick my face in the morning.
    If you are looking for words of dog wisdom, here is what I have learned (a direct quote from quiet but wise Lucy): “This better to have eaten something and thrown it up and then eaten it again, than never to have eaten it at all.”

    Reply
  41. Brad Mangas
    September 12, 2014

    I apologies for not visiting this here until now and just now reading this. Memories will last forever and there are never any bad times for good memories. Dogs teach humans so many valuable lessons. Such as don’t worry about things you have no control over. And if you have control over something then by golly do something about it, smell it, lick it, pee on it, roll on it, scratch it, or something, anything just do something it might go away soon.

    The way they look at us may very likely be the the ultimate human experience. Nothing else seems to covey the purity in their eyes.

    “Dogs have boundless enthusiasm but no sense of shame. I should have a dog as a life coach.”

    Take care Darwin and Sam, and Thank You Brando, you done a good job with these two.

    Reply
  42. Bren
    September 15, 2014

    Sorry to hear you lost Brando. It’s so hard to loose a member of your family.
    I have 2 and a maybe. I can’t imagine not having them!
    My last fuzzykid Boo told me that you only have 6-7 dogs in your life so don’t waist time on mourning me. Go save another friend as soon as possible!

    Reply
  43. Royce Howland
    September 15, 2014

    RIP Brando! It won’t be the same seeing Sam & Darwin without you there too. 🙁

    I haven’t been in a dog family for a long time, but know others who doggedly share life with these 4-legged friends. A good lesson I’ve seen is related to #20 above — No matter what has gone before, be hopeful that something good is just about to happen.

    Reply
  44. Edith Levy
    September 17, 2014

    So sorry for your loss Darwin & Samantha. Brando looked like such a sweetie and those are pretty good lessons.

    Reply
  45. Allison
    September 18, 2014

    I am sorry to hear about Brando, and I loved your life lessons through Brando’s eyes…Great Tips there, and tip # 19 was my fav!

    A pet is a part of your life

    hugs to you both
    sunny’s mom

    Reply
  46. Derrald
    September 19, 2014

    Darwin,

    Sorry to hear of Brando’s passing. Having to say goodbye to an old friend is always heartwrenching. 🙁

    Reply
  47. Llisa
    September 24, 2014

    Darwin & Samantha,

    Well, what a way to stumble across your blog.

    I got my own little pooch this year after failing to distinguish the difference between a good foreground interest rock and an angry horny moose last fall, hoping my little Creepy (yes, Creepy Bastard) would be able to bark and warn me before I make the same mistake again.

    I took her out on her first outing in April of this year, and she warned me of every fellow photographer that came within 100 feet of me, but the coyote directly across the river from us? She didn’t have a clue. Oh well, at least she listens to my rambling.

    I hope in the coming months, the heartache will subside and happier times will come again. My sincere condolences to the both of you, it’s hard to say good bye to family members like your Brando. I hope you can take comfort in the fact that you were able to give him a happy life while he was with you.

    Llisa

    Reply
  48. Laurie & Keven
    January 26, 2015

    Sam & Darwin, so very sad to hear of Brando’s passing. He was such a sweat pup and will miss his gentle hello’s.

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      January 28, 2015

      Thanks Laurie for the kind words, we still miss him… they stay with you a long time as you know.

  49. Blanche
    January 26, 2015

    I was reading your latest newsletter and when I read you were in the Antarctica, I was wondering whether you had your dog with you on this magnificent adventure. Then I read further to discover Brando passed away. 🙁
    It is heartbreaking to lose pets. They love us unconditionally no matter what. They always just want us to love them no matter what. Your videologue of Brando was wonderful. And made me cry.
    So sorry to hear about his passing away. I love my dogs dearly, but dread the day I need to make the final trip to the vet. At one point, I said to my husband “No more pets” because after losing two cats within a year of each other (both desperately sick), I didn’t want the heartache again.
    However, I have come to realize my life would have a huge hole in it without the addition of furkids. The joy, the love, the adventures, and the many lessons they bring us are worth any heartache.
    Now where is that darn tissue box….

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      January 28, 2015

      We are not ready for another dog yet… Brando is still with us in our thoughts daily, that little turd wormed his way into our hearts! Thanks for the kind note and yes the joy is amazing they bring us.

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