Bruno: the pug who cheered her up during the pandemic


Written by Cora Llamas

Content strategist, project manager, and reluctant cat whisperer. 🙂 Going back to my love of and care for pets. Used to have a lot of dogs years ago until life and work happened. Now I still got an azkal-jack-russell terrier and a cat who keeps on insinuating herself in my life. My 5-year-old grandnephew loves pets so who knows? our menagerie just might grow.


“Comfortable, cuddly, snuggly.” That’s how new pug owner Rejean Tee describes her beloved Bruno, February’s Next Top Pawdel of the Month, who just reached his one-year anniversary living with her and her family. “Cheerfulness” and “comforting” are other words that come into mind as the growing puppy cheered up his new master during the toughest moments of the lockdown.

Imagine Metro Manila during the months of March to July in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic had triggered a city-wide quarantine that made people stay in their homes as a means to reduce the transmission of the virus. Businesses were hit, and the ones that relied on huge numbers of people coming to a certain location were among the hardest hit. Weddings were postponed, business conferences were cancelled, and large celebrations were put on hold. Rejean, who handles the sales of one of the city’s most well-known events places, found she could not meet her sales target.

Always by her side

As Rejean tells her story, “The company I work for lost a lot of clients and it led to salary reduction. I would feel so down almost every day, especially when reading the news and all the other tragedies that happened this 2020.” And while her little pug was barely a year old at that time, she became his rock.

“I’m so blessed that Bruno was here for me,” says Rejean. “He kept me strong and whenever I’d feel sad, I’d just look over to him and carry him, and he takes it all away.”

Flash forward to now, and with “livestream events kicking in, business is starting to pick up again, and Bruno continues to be by my side.”

Bruno is also regarded as a member of the family. He sleeps with Rejean and her younger sister in their bedroom, sometimes curled up between them, or nestling soundly at their feet.

It is a happy situation that Rejean didn’t think would ever happen. Though she is a pug lover at heart, her parents did not exactly warm up to the idea of having a dog living with them in their condominium. “We were younger then, maybe teenagers,” Rejean shares the context. “My dad and mom probably didn’t think my sister and I would be able to take care of a pet, and THEY’D end up taking care of and cleaning after him.”

Happy surprise

The parental change of heart came as a joyous surprise. Ten days after her birthday, Rejean entered their living room to find a 2-month old Bruno making himself at home in their place. The Tees had just bought him from a pet shop in Tiendesitas. 

Rejean found herself bursting with emotions: “I cried so much and hugged him almost that entire night. When my sister carried him in the pet store and tried to return him to the cage, he didn’t want to leave her arms anymore—and that was that.

I just wanted to make sure that I took the main responsibility for him and to prove to my parents that they made the right decision. I just love Bruno so much, and I only want what’s best for him.

“All worries and anxieties of taking care of a dog for the first time disappeared. Ever since we had Bruno, I started staying home more, researching day and night on his needs. I just wanted to make sure that I took the main responsibility for him and to prove to my parents that they made the right decision. I just love Bruno so much, and I only want what’s best for him.”

Food and exercise

The health-conscious Rejean, who thrives on a fruit-and-veggies-diet, started sharing the equivalent of her own best nutritious practices with the baby pug. She shares, “I’m actually REALLY scared of feeding him anything unhealthy, especially since it’s my first time having a dog.” An IG community of pet lovers became her support system, advising her on the right kind of non-chemical meat, just as an example, that she can give to Bruno with a peaceful conscience.

Now that the economy is reopening, and Bruno has grown bigger, Rejean dreams of bringing him out to a pet-friendly beach in the province and teach him how to swim. Unlike the typical pug, Bruno is actually very active. He looks forward to the times that the family can bring him along to the park or a mall that allows dogs and cats in.  “He jumps up and down, waiting for that leash,” Rejeans says with a smile.

Rejean also finds those short trips enjoyable, as her inner workaholic takes a break. She and her favorite pug did a lot of bonding during the lockdown, and the important lessons in those months have remained with her. She says, “I make sure I have time to play with Bruno, take him out for walks, and just mainly be with my family especially on the weekends. He keeps me grounded and he’s a constant reminder that there is more to life than work.”


Gallery by The Pet Visuals: Bruno


Philippines’ Next Top Pawdel

If you think you also have a heartwarming story that can be told through the lens of the camera – a story of unspoken love by your dog or cat — please join the Philippines’ Next Top Pawdel. Our pictures will not just bring out the beauty of your pet, or reveal what’s inside their unspeaking heart. It will also talk about your connection with them, your relationship, your love affair.
Tell us your story. We’d like to hear from you.

How to win?

  1. Answer the pre-qualifying questions of love for a chance to be the Next Top Pawdel of the Month.
  2. Monthly winners must have their winning pet’s portrait taken in full Pawdel pawllection at The Pet Visuals’ studio.
  3. Top Pawdels of the Month are entitled to a free 3-hour pet portrait session (both solo and accompanied).
  4. One (1) pet is equivalent to one single entry.
  5. Only one (1) qualified pet can be admitted to the pet portrait session.
  6. Top Pawdel of the Month winners are ineligible to join the succeeding monthly Next Top Pawdel.
  7. Top Pawdel of the Month is limited to an undisclosed number of entries each month.
  8. Once the monthly contest is closed, wait for the next month’s contest to reopen.
  9. Free 25 post-shoot processed images in full Pawdel pawllection.
  10. Monthly winners will be transported for free via Pawdel’s private service vehicle to The Pet Visuals’ studio. *pick-up and drop-off is limited to Metro Manila and nearby provinces only (Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, and Bulacan)
  11. The grand winner of the Philippines’ Next Top Pawdel will be selected by a panel of judges by rating the 12 Top Pawdels of the Month’s portraits on the merits of who best articulates their unspoken love through the lens of the camera.

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