The residents of Longville, Minnesota may not all know each other, but they all know Bruno, the town dog.
Shortly after sunrise, the large, lumbering canine--thought to be an American Indian Dog--comes into town after making the four-mile trek up Highway 84. He stops at the deli for a quick breakfast, strolls by City Hall, spends time at the local real estate office, and he may even stop by to see his friends at a nearby ice cream shop.
The intrepid pup has had the same routine for the past 12 years, ever since he showed up at the end of Debbie and Larry LaVallee's driveway. Lavallee said,
"A guy come in my driveway, and Bruno was a little pup. And he says, 'I found your dog at the end of your driveway.' I says, 'Well he ain't my dog.' And that was the beginning of it all."
Believing him to be abandoned, the LaVallees decided to give Bruno a home. But they soon learned that, even as a puppy, their dog was a born wanderer. They tried to keep him on their property, but Bruno would pull so hard on his leash that he would nearly choke himself.
They eventually gave in to Bruno's need to roam and grew accustomed to receiving calls from concerned neighbors. They'd simply tell the callers to leave him be; he'd find his way home.
Over the years, Bruno has made a whole towns-worth of friends and is recognized everywhere he goes. He even has his own Facebook page with over 6,000 likes where people can follow his comings and goings. Longtime Longville resident Mary Trip says,
"He's more friendly than most of the humans in town. And I'm not saying that in a negative way about the humans. He's that lovable."
Trip buys Bruno donuts and occasionally gives him rides back home at the end of the day. On days he doesn't catch a ride back with one of his friends, Bruno makes the journey on his own. His ability to dodge traffic is revered all across town. One town member claims he has a guardian angel keeping him safe.
As Bruno ages, he relies on that guardian angel more and more. Debbie LaVallee says,
"He's getting old so you know he's not going to be around a lot longer."
As his joints stiffen and the fur around his muzzle grows grey, his visits into town become less frequent, but he's made a permanent impression on the people of Longville. Last year, a carved wooden statue was installed in his honor in a park on the town's main street. An engraved marker reads, "Longville's town dog and ambassador."
Ask the people of Longville, and they'll all say it's an honor that Bruno greatly deserves.
All images via KARE