Tim always loved bully dogs. I think dating me with Eliot made him want a dog that would be “his”, and I of course love all animals and want to have enough pairs for my own ark… so I was always pro Tim getting a dog. The type of dogs he wanted though? Not so much. He wanted a mastiff or Saint Bernard or Pitt Bull… something large with jowls and tons of drool. I have a ton of tolerance for all things doggy, but I draw the line at drool.
I suggested Boston Terriers to him. “They’re small, but they have a cute little bully face!”
“I don’t like Boston Terriers,” he scowled.
He kept thinking about Mastiffs, and I kept thinking about Boston Terriers. A bit before his birthday, I mentioned to my horse trainer who was in vet school at the time that I was thinking about getting Tim a dog for his birthday and was trying to push the idea of Boston Terriers. A week later, I got a text from her.
I have a Boston Terrier for you. House broken female. I’ll bring her to the barn. You can foster and keep if you want her.
Sure enough, I came to the barn one day and there was a small, female Boston Terrier tied to the fence. Turns out 30+ Boston Terriers had been pulled from horrible conditions in a puppy mill and then scattered at different rescues. My trainer came across BT during her small animal residency. I took the skinny little dog home to Tim, and he was in love.
At first BT and Eliot didn’t get along, and I wanted to return the dog. Tim would have none of it. “You can’t bring me this cute little dog and then say you don’t want her!” he argued. He had a point, and obviously the dog stayed.
Weeks later she got a bacterial infection of some sort, and literally spewed bloody diarrhea all over Tim, herself and his faux modern couch. He bathed her off, took her to the vet and still loved her.
He picked out a pink leather collar for her with huge metal spikes, because ‘she had some edge to her’. We walked her, with new expensive collar, from the fancy little dog store at Cameron Village in Raleigh and ran into some attractive college girls. They bent down to pet little BT, and Tim told them, “She’s a rescue.” They coooed and pet her and then went on their way. When they had left Tim turned to me and said, “I told them that she was a rescue because I wanted to see if they would make the squealing girl sound… and they did!”
BT went to work with Tim, and slept next to him every night. When Tim and I moved in together, she looked at me for months like “Who is this dumb bitch?!” despite my attempts to win her favor. She grew to like me well enough, but I was always 2nd to her darling Timmy.
We moved to Boston, and she told us that despite being a Boston Terrier… she wasn’t into snow and cold. When it snowed, we had to dig a little tunnel from the front door to underneath the bushes. She refused to pee on snow, so for months in the winter would only do her business underneath the eave of the house or bushes that blocked the snow.
One afternoon I took her out to potty in the front yard of our suburban house in Plymouth, and she spotted a coyote off in the distances. She raised her hackles and GROWLED like she was going to kill the shit out of that coyote. It must have worked, because both of us escaped the dire situation with our lives.
Because she was a Boston Terrier, we took her into the city for sight seeing. She posed with statues and flowers in the North End and rode on the subway.
We took her to the Poconos Mountains on vacation. Though not nearly as much into nature, she enjoyed sniffing and sleeping in different hotel beds. She’s been to Mardi Gras and traveled halfway across the country several times. BT legitimately has traveled more than my younger brother… not exaggerating.
She was with us when Tim proposed on the side of a mountain in Vermont. I held out my hand to show her my ring, and she bit the diamond without hesitation.
She was the flower girl in our wedding.
We moved to Austin, and while she got a lot more gray she didn’t seem to age much. The same horse trainer who brought her to us came to visit in 2010. She took one look at BT and said, “Your dog is so old! Look at her old lady paws!”
That made me worry, because we hadn’t had this dog all that long and we wanted more time with her.
She was never what I would call a trained animal. You couldn’t take her off leash anywhere, because she would immediately cruise the area for a nicer family that might take better care of her. This stopped as she got older and lost her sight. It took her several years, but she did decide in the end that we were the best she could ever hope for.
Even as her face aged, she still embraced her naughty side. Her favorite things to chew were pens and pieces of paper. Money was especially tasty – it was hard for her to resist a rogue dollar bill that fell out of Tim’s pocket. I came home from work one time to find her covered in red. Immediately I thought she was bleeding, until she appeared fine and I found a chewed up Red sharpie on my guest bed.
She loved to take naps in sunshine spilling through a window. She never fully accepted house training (the adoption people lied!), and I picked up more piles of BT poo than I could ever count. She snored as loud as Tim when she slept, and had the world’s worst breath. It always smelled like fish. Always.
BT was not a dog for everyone, but she was a dog for us.
After the vet told me her prognosis, I took her home with the medicine and optimistically waited for improvement. A few mornings she slept in with me until the alarm rang at seven, which was huge progress! I was optimistic. Then on Wednesday night she couldn’t settle down at all, so I had to put her in the bathroom with dog beds so I could get some sleep. I didn’t see much benefit at all from the medicine later in the week.
Thursday afternoon I sat in my back yard, and watched her pant and pace the perimeter in circles. She wasn’t sniffing or doing her business, but just circling and stressed. Pascale had pooped recently, and I watched BT walk through the pile of poop three times without even realizing what she was doing. I decided it was time. That night it took her 45 minutes of getting up, laying down, crying and getting up again before she could fall asleep.
It was like she was searching for serenity, but couldn’t find it.
Friday morning she had what I would equate to a doggy panic attack, with wild panting and crying and throwing herself against the bathroom door because she wanted to get out… but then didn’t know what she wanted past that. On my way to work, I made the call to my vet for the appointment.
Friday night I fed her bacon wrapped filet mignon. She was a calmer than before, and I pet her little panting face and talked to her a lot before I went to sleep. That conversation though, is between us.
Saturday morning she acted very peaceful. I gave her turkey and cheddar cheese for breakfast, because she had stopped eating dog food after all the spoiling I had done to her. Jen drove us to the vet, and I lasted as long as the waiting room before I started to cry.
When it was time, I stroked her chest with one hand and held her bottom with the other. The vet carefully looked for the vein, and when he first pricked her she actually turned and snapped at him like the spitfire she is. I leaned in closer to comfort her, and she licked me on the nose.
There was about a half second as she looked up, and then I felt her head fall against my chest. She leaned against me for a few seconds before the vet tech carefully laid her down on the table. I didn’t need the vet to verify with the stethoscope that she was gone, because I felt it the second she laid her head against me.
For animals and humans alike, the greatest gift in life is to be wholly loved. For our loved ones to care for us to the best of their abilities, and one day feel the loss when we are gone.