It all started with Beans. Well okay, technically it started with "Athena" (her name given from the shelter) but during our time together Athena turned to Beans because of what would become an almost habitual nicknaming our poor foster dogs to some sort of food. Plus, Beans suited her.
After two lonely, dog-free years of university I was dying. It wasn't like me to not have some sort of fuzzy creature around, and although one of my pet gerbils liked his ears scratched I was getting restless. Mix that with a terrible pool of available student summer jobs and my live-in boyfriends long work hours and you got one bored as hell girl. It was time to do something.Without that much needed job I decided fostering was more in my price range and found a great local rescue who would pay for food and vet bills as long as I provided love, attention, and maybe a little training. Sounded great to me!
Jump to a week later. It may have slipped my mind to inform my boyfriend of my intentions. Okay that's a lie. It was on my mind, I dropped hints here and there but in the end when I told him we had to go pick up our new dog he almost died. A little pleading and he relented - although since this first time the "surprise!" tactic is now a favourite of mine so I'm sure he regrets that moment. Anyways we got in the car and went to the meeting place. She was beautiful. A new arrival from a over-crowded shelter in Kentucky who looked to me to be a red coloured Doberman in a skinny Labs body. All muscle, even in her malnourished state. We loaded her kennel into the car and my boyfriend opened the door to let her into the backseat. One look at the lonely backseat and she hopped into my open front door instead and sat on my lap. She fit right in!
But boy did she stink! And her fur was so coarse it felt like little needles in my legs and arms. First job was a bath which went off without a hitch. Then we went for had a walk, had dinner, and settled in for the night. She fit right in like she'd been around for years. That summer we walked for hours and hours, often ending up in a dog park near my boyfriends work and he'd pick us up on his way home. Every night she would sleep with me until I fell asleep and then headed out into the living room and hung out with my boyfriend till he decided to head to bed as well. She gained some much needed weight and her coat became softer and super shiny. I learned to cook and she learned the sound of the cutting board when veggie snacks for her. We discovered a lot of the town together and with her around I was more confident to take routes I never had before. We got along great although her leash pulling, bull headed-ness and just general dumbass-ness did test my nerves quite a bit. But on one particular occasion I was taken by surprise by her devotion.
She was always a friendly dog. Everyone she met loved her to pieces and she loved them just the same. I can admit that she generally read my moods really well and out walking if I was ever feeling a bit uneasy she was more attentive to me and those around me but this particular time was unreal. I was walking down a foot path to get onto a popular walking spot when a very sketchy man approached. I can be a little jumpy sure but this dude had all the wrong vibes about him. I was just going to walk on by but Beans had other ideas. She was off-leash and would generally be off doing her own thing but suddenly came rushing through the bushes and stood between me and aforementioned creepy dude. She wouldn't let him get within ten feet of me! She had never did more then mumble during play and here she was with her hair standing on end, snarling, snapping and lunging to within a few feet of a creepy stranger. I walked down the trail and called to her and she just went back to normal, greeting passersby with a tail wag. This moment really cemented in my mind the idea that however shitty a life a dog could have had before with a little love they will move on and fully devote themselves to you. And thats crazy stuff.
My favourite memory is from the day captured in the picture below. Once a year this pool would shut down for a day and they'd let you bring your dog to play. We signed Beans up and on one of the hottest days ever we stood in a ridiculous line with almost 50 over excited dogs waiting to be let in. Once finally inside Beans got so excited she ran around and around and met back up with us near the deep end where all the real water dogs were playing. She didn't think twice and actually walked, rather clownishly, into the deep end thinking it was like the other side (aka shallow and he feet would touch the bottom). I nearly died when she went a few feet below the surface and came up with this look of utter shock on her face. We nearly had to dive in after her but my boyfriend and a kindly bystander managed to grab her collar and pull her to safety. As we were on the ground dying laughing she shook it off and ran over the the shallow side for the rest of our visit.
We had her until just before Halloween. I remember this because we had just got her this adorable neck tie that had little pumpkins and ghosts on it. A family applied to adopt her online and they seemed perfect. They were active, had a nice big house, two kids and lots of doggie friends nearby to meet. They came to meet her and immediately fell in love. A week later she was gone. She was one of my favourites and we threw around the idea of keeping her ourselves but one thing I've come to learn is you just kind of know when you and a potential dog are meant to be. Beans is this incredible mix of muscle, excitement and good humour that could make anyone love her she wasn't ever mine and I'm glad she found her family. A few fosters later I finally felt that meant to be moment and adopted one of my fosters for a reason I can only explain as "I just know." But that's another story.