The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

February 3, 2014

Me and a dog named Brentley

By B. J. Drye, Editor

Monday, February 3, 2014 — Brentley Drye, beloved son, brother, granddog and friend, passed away Jan. 27, less than a week after Grandma McLester. We were prepared for this one. Well, as prepared as one can be when you lose your best friend.

Depending on who you ask, he was between 98 and 115 years old, which equals close to 16 years for humans. Mom and Dad adopted him when he was in his teens, which meant he loved to get into places he wasn’t supposed to be and eat things that didn’t agree with him.

When he first came home, I didn’t want anything to do with him. I had always had bad memories of dogs. Sure, I had one when I was little, but I was very young and do not remember much about Flash, other than what I see in photos.

But Brentley was different. He didn’t bark unless antagonized and overall was the friendliest pooch I’ve ever grown to know. His breed is known as a toy dog, and as most of you know, I love toys. He was small enough to carry, but had a big enough heart to think he could run with the big dogs.

In his early years he could hear a sound made at the other end of the house and be there within a few seconds, storming down the hall like a freight train. He recently lost vision and hearing and he could not walk as good, taking on traits of various family members. I’ve heard that dogs often take on the characteristics of their masters, and this cannot be truer. I could see similarities everywhere.

Like me, his brother, he was known for being a hoarder, but it wasn’t out of necessity. People would just buy him things and he couldn’t say no to his adoring fans. His favorite possession as a young adult was a hamburger toy, gaining him the nickname “The Hamburgerlar Rustler.”

Later in life, he decided it was time to add to his name. He went through this before, but much like Prince. He had to shake things up a bit to keep it interesting. To initially keep the family tradition alive, he took on the middle name of Jerome or James, whatever gave him the initial J. like his father and brother. But in 2013, his brother suggested to him that he change his middle name to Elton, giving him the initials B.E.D., since one of his favorite pastimes was sleeping.

But he had a personality to go with it. He was known for being a trendsetter and wearing flashy clothes. His past personas include Air Force fighter pilot (since his dad was a veteran), a pilgrim, Rudolph, Santa Claus and Superman. Yet most of the time he was just regular Clark Kent, in honor of his brother, as well as his idol, that famous novel writer, Snoopy. He could often be seen reading the newspaper. I mean, it was like he was raised on the newspaper.

He posed for calendar shoots, shook hands with visitors and, like Grandma, was known for his trip to the beauty parlor.

Even though he was on a special diet, he became addicted to cheese doodles. One of the things I learned from him is that no matter if you are on the strictest diet, if you turn a very sad face and glaring eyes up to someone who loves you, most of the times they will sneak you a cheese doodle. (No doubt, the Cheetos company will release a commemorative bag in his honor soon. He was their very, very, very unofficial spokesperson.)

He could not have asked for better parents or a better brother. For the last weeks of his life, I was performing family hospice care. I would hold up his plate while he ate. Although he had trouble eating and physical impairments, he could still find his water bowl with little assistance.

We often thought that he was a reincarnation of Grandpa. Brentley’s ears would perk up upon hearing the gravel road that led to where Grandma and Grandpa lived. He had a connection to Grandma, even visiting her when she made a brief trip to the nursing home. Even though his health was failing and he didn’t take part in Christmas activities like he normally did, he still managed to get up and greet Grandma as she entered our house this past Christmas. Maybe Brentley was Grandpa in disguise. I mean, he was black and white, which could be Grandpa covered in oil and grease, since he was a mechanic.

Now he is no doubt at the feet of Grandma Drye, Uncle Richard and Grandma McLester, all of whom loved him well.

Brentley is better for having known me, and I am better for letting myself get to know him.

B.J. Drye is editor of The Stanly News & Press. Send comments or story ideas to bj@stanlynewspress. com or PO Box 488, Albemarle, NC 28002.