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Therapy Dog Bruno

July 1, 2020

As many pet parents can agree, our four-legged friends are really more like family. Our pets, from the moment they enter our lives, become family members who love us unconditionally — there truly is no kind of love like the one of a pet. Sadly, like those in our human family, time eventually runs its course and those pets pass on. One Hoboken pup who has recently passed away is Bruno — a local therapy dog known around the town. We got the chance to speak with Bruno’s mom, Lauren Gurtman, who told us all about his life and work here in the Mile Square, and the legacy that he has left behind.

This pet-friendly love story begins after Lauren had recently lost her mother. After watching her bother battle uterine cancer, Lauren was deep in mourning. One day, however, her husband brought her home a “present” to cheer her up — Bruno.

“From the moment Bruno entered my arms I knew he was special,” Lauren shared with Hoboken Girl. At the time, Lauren and her husband lived in downtown Hoboken and one dog named Willie, who was a certified therapy dog. With one already in the house, it felt right to pass the baton on to Bruno.

“[I knew] he had found his calling as a therapy dog,” Lauren shared.

Working with therapy dogs wasn’t something new to Lauren. In fact, she’s the founder and director of Kids Communicate, a clinic that specializes in “outpatient clinic providing comprehensive speech, language, orofacial myofuncational evaluations, feeding evaluations, as well as individual tailored therapy,” according to its website. Lauren regularly utilized pet-assisted therapy with her patients to ensure they received the best {and fluffiest} care they needed.

“Practicing and engaging with animals during therapy has so many benefits,” Lauren said. Naturally, this role for Bruno fit like a glove. Training a therapy dog, however, is no small feat — it’s a daily activity.

“I have worked with private trainers and also took him to group classes where he received his American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen award. He also was certified through Therapy Dogs International in his younger years,” Lauren said.

All of those training sessions ended up paying off.

“I always say working is a choice for my dogs, which meant they could be in the therapy room with patients or not,” Lauren said. “Bruno always chose to be a part of therapy sessions when he was invited which was often. “Sometimes this meant just being present for greeting or a goodbye. Sometimes it meant sitting on a child’s lap or in a sensory swing. My patients always loved reading to Bruno or showing him a newly acquired speech skill.”

Lauren says that it was his calming energy that made Bruno have that unique, special quality to work with little ones. “His eyes always let children know they were safe.”

Working with other humans daily {especially for our four-legged friends} mightbe exhausting, but for Bruno that wasn’t the case.

“Bruno always knew when he was needed and when to back away.  He was always able to read a child’s cues,” Lauren shared with HG. “He had endless patience and never flinched if a child got too excited. Bruno could always make children smile.”

Over the years, Bruno shared many special moments with his clients. Lauren shared that “Boo/Bruno” was actually a first word “approximation” for lots of children at her practice during his time there.

Beyond little ones, this pup also worked with the elderly. Although Lauren’s practice is primarily for babies, children, and teenagers, Bruno made regular visits to seniors in his Mile Square neighborhood. He truly got to know every one of every age in his hometown.

“He helped so many children learn to love dogs and helped others overcome their fear of dogs,” Lauren shared. “He also helped many children mourn the loss of their family pets.”

When he wasn’t helping his own set of clients or visiting local seniors, Lauren shared that Bruno loved spending time with his family, which included Lauren, her husband, 10-year-old twin boys, a 14-year-old girl, and other fur siblings. He spent his days people watching from the family home’s front step, visiting Cornerstone Pets, and taking trips to Hoboken Pets.

Unfortunately, Bruno passed away on May 18th of this year. This beloved therapy dog, after touching and impacting many lives across the Mile Square, has left behind a wonderful legacy and two fur brothers who are following in his footsteps {or pawprints}.

“His greatest legacy is our 12-year-old Bichon named Jake and an eight-month-old puppy named Benny. Training the three dogs together daily was always a joy” Lauren shared. “Benny and Jake learned from Bruno and carry on his legacy of helping children every day. Bruno has left such a large paw print in so many lives. He will never be forgotten.”

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