Andrew Brim and his dog Bob recently celebrated their first year together.
While this may be an important milestone for any owner-pet relationship, their anniversary was particularly special, considering what the pair have gone through in the last year.
One of the most significant events they have gone through was a trip to the veterinarian that led to Bob undergoing surgery to have one of his kidneys removed.
It all began in July when the two went for a walk and Brim discovered blood in Bob’s urine. It was “out of nowhere,” he said.
Brim, who lives in Bellevue, took Bob to the Redmond-Kirkland Animal Hospital where he was treated by veterinarian Andrea Hoover.
After her examination, Hoover said they discovered the cause of the blood was a giant kidney worm. She said it was not treatable with medicine, so Bob — who was otherwise healthy — required surgery to remove the worm.
“It definitely came as a shock to Andrew as to what was going on with (Bob),” Hoover said, adding that giant kidney worms are extremely rare in this part of the country. They are typically found in warmer climates.
Upon hearing Bob’s diagnosis, Brim, who is originally from Prosser in eastern Washington, said he couldn’t speak. He didn’t know what to do. His 2-year-old dog was dying, and Brim wasn’t in a financial position to pay for Bob’s procedure.
But then, his parents offered to help pay for the surgery. The procedure was performed at Seattle Veterinary Specialists, a specialty and emergency animal hospital that has locations in Kirkland and Seattle.
In addition to his parents’ support, Brim said the staff and doctors at the hospitals helped him through Bob’s illness.
“I felt very well taken care of,” he said.
For Brim, losing Bob — who has since made a full recovery — would have meant more than just losing his pet. It would have meant losing his lifeline as he was going through many struggles before he adopted Bob.
Brim is a veteran who served in the Marines for six years from 1998 to 2004. He served at Twentynine Palms in southern California, working in casualty assistance. Through this role, Brim said he was there to receive troops who had been wounded overseas. In addition, he made himself available to the families of troops who did not make it home.
The 35-year-old said he was unable to deploy due to medical reasons, but while he did not see battle up close, his job still affected him.
“It definitely took a hold,” he said.
Before he was discharged, Brim admitted that he struggled with alcohol abuse and was in counseling. The issues continued once he was out of the military.
“I’d just gotten into a bad place,” Brim said.
He went through a divorce, had trouble sleeping, experienced night terrors that he would rarely remember but left him with a sick feeling the next day and was put on anti-depressants.
Then about a year and a half ago, Brim decided to re-engage with the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). His care team suggested an animal.
Brim’s aunt found Bob at the Quincy WA Animal Shelter near Wenatchee and Ellensburg.
Like Brim, Bob’s life was not easy before the two met. He said his dog was in the shelter due to animal neglect and cruelty and was brought in with an 18-inch logging chain around his neck. Bob was in bad shape, Brim said.
Knowing the dog had overcome adversity — like himself — led Brim to bond with Bob quickly.
Bob knows when Brim is having a night terror and will nudge his owner to wake him up. Brim said he returns the favor as Bob will also have night terrors and struggle in his sleep. When Brim realizes this, he will wake Bob up.
“Together, we’re a pretty good stinking team,” Brim said.
After learning more about Bob and his owner’s relationship and what they mean to each other, Hoover said she was glad they were able to help and provide the dog with the care he needed.
For Brim, having a pet was meant to bring structure and responsibility to his life at the time. Bob was just supposed to offer companionship and help force Brim out of his depression. Isolation could not be an option when there was someone else in the picture, relying on him to take care of them, Brim said.
Brim said since Bob came into his life — in tandem with going to counseling and medication — his quality of life is much higher than it used to be.
“With Bob, I cut down on anti-depressants,” he said, adding that spending time with his yellow lab mix with the goofy face is better than any pill.
Brim said he recommends his fellow veterans to look into the VA, create a support system and stay connected with that system. He alaso recommended an animal.
“Try a dog,” Brim said. “Just not mine — he’s taken.”