When a Tiny Dog Changes your Life

This past week included a momentous day in the household, it was Bean’s birthday! If you look closely at some of her photos, you will notice grey tones on her brows and under her chin. Other than some fashionable greys, you would never be able to guess that she turned seven last week. Her energy and zest for life are as bright as the day she first joined us as a wriggly brown sausage with legs.

Join me now as I try to put into words the way this tiny dog has changed all aspects of my universe.

Before I can talk about Bean, I need to share a bit about me. *Cue flashback sequence and music*

We had one dog when I was a tiny human, named Abigail. I don’t have many memories of her, but the memories always include giggles, licks, and sunshine. When she passed away, I remember marking a grave in our backyard and visiting her, leaving trinkets that had reminded me of her. For a long while after Abigail, there was a serious lack of all things k9 and I recollect begging my parents for a puppy. I felt like Ralphie in A Christmas Story except I wasn’t conniving for a Red Rider BB Gun. The item of my desire included four furry paws that smelled a bit like Fritos.

Oreo was, as you can probably guess, black and white. She was magically in our kitchen when I came home from Girl Scout Camp after learning that two weeks of tween girls, humidity and tents will lead a lot of people smelling “ripe.”

I don’t know how to relay information about my time with Oreo. She, for the most part, was tethered outside which was my father’s wish. She wasn’t allowed in the living room or bedrooms and slept in our pantry. There was a tangible divide between “us” and “her” and, it resulted in a lack of warmth and love. I have always felt guilt for her treatment. She had shelter, food, and a place to sleep but lacked love. Not surprisingly, she was standoffish at best and became increasingly aggressive. I don’t blame her. Eventually, after my grandfather passed away, leaving my grandmother alone, Oreo was offered as a companion which she accepted with a grunt. My grandmother was, as some would say, full of “piss and vinegar,” so her personality meshed well with Oreo’s. They were like two peas in a cranky pod. One barking, the other yelling at neighbors while sitting on the front stoop.

After Oreo joined my grandmother to live a life of table food and curmudgeon-oriented activities, I found myself lacking a pup again. It was well over a decade before the prospect of a dog was feasible, between college, graduate school and a crappy first apartment that didn’t allow pets. Needless to say, I had lots of time to romanticize the idea of dog ownership.

We researched breeds, looked up photos, approached strangers who were out and about with their dogs to fill our dog quota. We bounced ideas off of each other for breeds and we waited for when we could have a dog of our own.

We moved into our first home, and the time had finally arrived! The closing on the house was in July, our scheduled visit with a Boston Terrier breeder in New Hampshire was scheduled for September!

Quincy Bean was one of many wriggly brown pups that were in the litter. Her mother, Koda, watched attentively as we visited with each puppy, and appreciated their tiny features. Teeny brown shiny noses, white tips on minuscule toes, wiggling tails and the hint of ear tips. I was smitten with all of the pups, how could you not be? In the end, we wound up selecting Bean because she seemed most comfortable with us. She wound up falling asleep in a small brown ball in the palm of my hand. As she grunted and twitched in her sleep, I vowed that I would protect and love this tiny creature for the rest of her life.

Bean came home right before Thanksgiving as a four-pound wriggly dog who was afraid of grass and wind. She would sit on our feet whenever we went outside with her to go potty and she would hide behind our legs whenever a breeze swept through. Inside the home, my “no dogs on furniture” rule lasted approximately 18 minutes before I swooped down and had her snuggle with me on our couch. She hasn’t left my side ever since.

I didn’t know I could love something so much, so quickly. She helped me to find joy in just being. Whether it was snoozing in the sunlight, exploring a field or trail for adventures, or laughing over nothing at all. Bean has helped me to savor single moments and to live as things were happening, not fretting over what has been or will be. That, is one of the poetic pieces of a dog. They are always with you in that single sliver in time. They don’t judge you for what you did or said ten minutes prior and they don’t agonize over what is on your horizon.

As an introvert with social anxiety, Bean has also helped me to feel more comfortable with myself and with groups of people. The world isn’t as intimidating when you emulate Bean’s confidence. She is tiny for a Boston (sixteen pounds) but she will approach the biggest dog at the park confidently and initiate play without regard or concern over rejection. If she can do it, why not me?

Bean has shown me to love without condition. She gives her affection endlessly, without concessions. She shows the same degree of love and excitement for a family friend or a total stranger who bent down to say hello. She doesn’t care if I didn’t get the job I had interviewed for, or lost weight. She has no concern for what I’m wearing or the words that come out of my mouth. She just loves. Wouldn’t it be nice if humans behaved that way? I try to. She’s my inspiration.

It’s hard to imagine what life was like before she joined us. Seven years have been filled with so much joy because of her. I will cherish each new day we have with her as we continue our adventures together. Happy birthday my little love. We are so happy you are in our family.

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