Awkward Moments with the New Neighbor: Brought to You by Briggs

A handful of folks have DMed me on Twitter and Facebook over the past three weeks or so asking me for Briggs updates. And I’ve responded with phrases like Oh, he’s great and It’s so nice to have him back. But the truth is this—he wasn’t back, y’all. Not even close.

Nine full weeks after his surgery, Briggs was still struggling each and every time he got up from his bed—still walking with a discernible limp. And worst of all, he’d lost that youthful, mischievous nature we’d grown to accept love about him.

At first I was in denial. He’s just not fully recovered yet, but he will be soon, I’d tell myself, despite the fact that the vet who performed the TPLO surgery insisted he’d be “better than ever” by then. I eventually had no choice but to admit that my dog was but a shell of his former self, first to myself and then to my wife. How I hoped Caroline would come back with What are you talking about? as opposed to the sad but plain truth she chose to go with.

I know. Poor fella.

On some level, I expected that Briggs’ ACL injury would be a deal changer. I think that’s why it threw me so. Why the post detailing it came off with such an air of wistfulness.

Because I don’t want Briggs to get old. Maybe it’s because it signals that I’m not the young buck I was when I bought him. I’m sure that’s part of it. Hard to see him age if for no other reason than it’s proof that I’m doing the same.

But I genuinely think that my malaise with regard to Briggs’ situation was more selfless than that. That it had way more to do with the dog than it did with my vanity. Because when it comes right down to it, I want Briggs to be himself till he no longer can. And I want that time to come naturally, not via a point-in-time injury that robs him, me and my kids of the essence of what is an astonishingly beautiful beast.

It was these types of thoughts which ran through my mind as I picked Briggs up from the vet the day after returning from our most recent trip to the beach. I opened the back and reached down to pick him up, but before I could grab him, he jumped right in. I closed the back and headed to the front before I realized what had happened.

That he’d jumped. In the back of my Yukon. Without even thinking twice about it.

Just like he used to.

I can’t tell you how excited I was on the drive home. So excited, in fact, that I thought it best to temper that excitement. Probably just a burst of energy after being boarded for so long. Certainly not a sign that he’s back.

Or was it? Over the next couple of days, I couldn’t tell. But, really and truly, I thought he was a lot closer to the old Briggs than he was to the slow-moving and somewhat decrepit version who emerged from his crate eight weeks after the procedure, but I also knew it was possible that I was simply seeing what I so desperately wanted to see.

So the debate of Old Briggs vs. New and Unimproved Briggs waged on. Until I got the phone call. That unexpected but wonderful phone call from Caroline.

“Briggs has escaped! He’s roaming the neighborhood.”

This is the part where I tell you that as a responsible dog owner, I totally realize it’s never an ideal situation to have your dog roaming the neighborhood. Especially if he’s been known to hump unsuspecting wise men (nativity pageant, y’all), barge inside houses, roll in the creek, etc…

But as a guy who believed his hard-to-contain dog would never again be just that? As a guy who lost a little pep in his step when his beautiful chocolate lab lost the exact same thing? As a youthful and (somewhat) mischievous man who longs for his dog to rejoin him on both of those fronts?

I’m sorry, y’all, but you’d have to go back to Luke’s birth to find a time when my heart was filled with more joy than it was when I heard Briggs was running free. I wondered if his tongue was wagging as he made his way from yard to yard. I bet it was.

It was late, so after hanging up, I headed to the house. The plan was for me to help Caroline get through the witching hour, then head out to find our dog.

Until, that is, he was brought to us. By our new neighbor, the mom of a family that had just moved to town a while ago.

“I heard this might be your dog, right?” she said.

“Yes. Yes, he is. And we are so sorry. Where did you find him?”

“In our swimming pool.”


“I guess he wanted to join the kids who, you know, were also swimming at the time.”

Oh my.

“Oh,” she said before turning to go. “You might want to give him a bath. I believe he rolled in dog poop just before he jumped in.”

Of course he did.

Look, y’all, I know what you’re thinking, but all Briggs was trying to do was welcome that woman and her family to the neighborhood by letting ‘em know that he truly gives a shit about ‘em. Is that so wrong?

Still, we were beside ourselves with embarrassment, offering up apology upon apology. Truly mortified. But stoked, too.

‘Cause Briggs is back, y’all.

So we’ll do our best on our end, but you still might wanna lock your doors.

And, um, hide the wise men. Just in case.


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About john cave osborne

John Cave Osborne is a writer whose work has appeared on such sites as DisneyBaby, Babble, YahooShine, TLC and the Huffington Post. He was also referenced by Jezebel one time, but he’s pretty sure they were making fun of him. He and his wife, Caroline, live with their five children and spastic dog in Knoxville, TN. Nothing annoys him more than joke-heavy bios written in the third person, with the possible exception of Corey Feldman.

  • awinston

    Yea, Briggs!!! Go, buddy. Good dog.

    • John Cave Osborne

      you got that right!

  • Kristin

    “He gives a shit.” CLASSIC. At least as good as sanctioned window busting, I have to say. So glad that Briggs is back to himself…but no diaper-eating, we hope!

    • John Cave Osborne

      okay, so Caroline just fainted after reading the diaper-eating bit. ha ha. (but, no, no and more no on the diaper-eating front.)

  • Janice

    Wish you had a “Like” button. This is a great story for dog owners!!

    • John Cave Osborne

      janice — i do have a like button! sorry you didn’t see it, but thanks so much for stopping by, not to mention leaving a comment.

  • Beth

    I’m so happy to hear Briggs has his mojo back! You know the vet gave our sweet Molly 6 months to live, 10 months ago! But forgot to tell her, thank God! :)

    • John Cave Osborne

      beth — no, i’m so sorry to hear about Molly, but love that she’s marching right along. sounds like Briggs isn’t the only one who’s got some mojo going on…

  • Seattledad

    I don’t have a dog, but I have neighbors that I want to borrow Briggs for. Does he do house calls?

    • John Cave Osborne

      bro, it’s great to hear from you! and, absolutely, he does house calls. particularly in your area of the country.

  • graham

    So glad my buddy is back! Big hugs from Aunt Graham on the fifth anniversary of The Finger, and tell him I’ll see him next month.

    • John Cave Osborne

      ha ha. the finger. holy cow. what a mess. (Briggs, not your finger.)