Doris, Beans, Dort, The Gremlin, My Heart.

On the evening of January 6, 2017, Maggie and I made an impromptu trip to the Nevada Humane Society. There had been so much snow and rain in Reno the past week, that there was a serious flood warning, and as a result, they lifted all of their adoption fees. One of the animals in the shelter was a full blooded Boston Terrier, and I had wanted a Boston since I felt that first pang of loneliness that comes with leaving your childhood dog at home when you move away to college.

She knew how to sit pretty when food was involved. 

At this exact moment in my life, I knew that I needed a companion that would be able to support me and give me something positive to focus on while I was working through the ending of my life in Virginia, my marriage, and many other difficult realities that came with turning your life upside down to rediscover your true self & happiness. On the way to the humane society, I didn’t get my hopes up. It was a pure bred Boston…maybe she had already been adopted…but the one thing that made her “undesirable” was the fact she was 13 years old.

So, she was ancient, and who knows how long she’d actually have to live her new life.

Well, when we walked into the madness that was the Humane society, I was able to get someone to show me “Zoey” (ugh.) and here came this gnarly, scrawny, gremlin looking thing with THE BIGGEST WART ON HER CHIN. Oh, she was rough – she had just undergone surgery to have pretty much all of her teeth removed on top of that, so her breath was rank. She didn’t really know what to think of me or Maggie, but did eventually come up for a scritch, and with that, and that “I have no fucks to give” look on her face, I decided to take her home.

I had to change her name though, to something that suited her, and so she became Doris, but very quickly, her name actually just became Beans. When I was signing the paperwork to adopt her, I remember being very frank with the volunteer, “What if she dies on me tomorrow, or I need to put her down within the week? Will you all help with that?” I didn’t know how long I would have her, all I knew is that I was going to do my best to give her the best life possible in her final chapter.

Beans was the best helper when we were writing the book. 

The following morning, I woke up in a panic, thinking that I had done something so incredibly stupid, that I called my mom. She laughed at me when I told her that I had adopted a geriatric Boston Terrier. As she pointed out, there were worse things I could do, and that the best thing I could do was give a senior dog a good home before she moves on to her next life. 

I think I did a pretty damn good job, because Beans’s final chapter was much longer than anyone could have anticipated. I had 14 wonderful, poop filled months with a dog that had more personality in her stumpy tail than most have in their whole body. She really made me practice unconditional love, sacrifice, and everything it means to be deeply bonded to a spirit. She had a degenerative spinal issue, which caused her severe muscle spasms and mobility issues, and could only be treated by biweekly/monthly acupuncture, a great (expensive) diet, and Therabis. I feel incredibly fortunate to know that for the 14 months I had her in my life, I was able to get her to a point where, at times, she acted like a young, peppy Boston. It was expensive, but she was worth every single penny. Watching her "skreeeeee", play, and be so joyful was such a blessing. 

Gotta get those tummy rubbins

She gave me the best gift though, the bond we shared was deep, and having her in my life kept my head above water when I thought every terrible thing I was personally dealing with would sink me. She made me get up in the morning, feed her, care for her, play with her, and snuggle with her. She reminded me every day that I was worth loving, and that I was loved, unconditionally. We were inseparable, as she spent her days with Lauren, Chris, and I at the American Duchess Headquarters. There she learned how much she loved being a ham in the photo studio, being the most help with writing the first book, daily walks around the office, getting to know the delivery people, and getting some great snugs while regularly crop dusting us with her potent gas.

We were close, to say the least.

Throughout the year, I noticed when she peaked in health and vitality (summer), and then began to notice a very slow and steady decline over the course of fall and winter. I didn't want to acknowledge it, but the slow shift was there. Looking back, I can think of things that changed that I didn't noticed at the time, but are obvious now. On Monday of this week, she didn’t finish her breakfast (which was unusual for her because she was a piggins), and her back end was not working properly. There was a steady decline, day after day, with her falling over, losing balance, and generally in a state of discomfort. I had an acupuncture appointment for her on Thursday, and so I was hopeful that I could keep her comfy until then. Unfortunately, she had other plans (and she was the boss, there is no doubt about that.) Yesterday afternoon, she had a massive seizure that sent me into hysterics. I don't want to go into the details, but it was one of the scariest things I have witnessed...the feeling of total helplessness during and after the seizure just made everything 100x worse. Luckily, Chris and Lauren were able to drive me to the vet, in a snowstorm, so she could be seen by our vet. 

Claiming the clean laundry for a new bed.

I knew this was it, and that I was going to lose my dearest and most beloved companion. There weren’t a lot of options for us, because of her age, her tests coming back inconclusive, the looming threat of another massive seizure that could kill her, her general discomfort and decline in quality of life, etc. Knowing also how her balance, coordination, movement, and comfort level had drastically decreased in just a couple of days, I didn’t think she would survive the weekend, and the last thing I wanted was for her to pass away from another seizure. So, I made the hard, but best choice for my beloved Beans.

She passed in my arms, with a tummy full of treats, surrounded by those that loved her and will miss her terribly. I cannot express my gratitude for being chosen as her dog mom, how much love she gave me, and how much I learned from her tenacity and strength. I will miss her every damn day of my life, and 14 months was more than what I was hoping for, but not enough time to be with her.

I love you, Beans. Thank you, for everything you gave me. You are my angel in this life and the next. <3 


  1. I am so sorry, Abby! It was a pleasure to meet Doris last year and I think she was incredibly lucky to have you. As far as giving her a good doggy retirement, I think you succeeded, and then some!
    - Elizabeth

  2. I am so sorry for your loss- my sweet cat is nearing this and your powerful words fill me with hope and sorrow.

  3. So much love to you. What a brave decision. Sending love from England.

  4. It's often the hardest decision to make, but also often the most important test of our love, to end a beloved friend's suffering. You gave her an amazing life for 14 months filled with love and happiness. There is very little as hard or as easy as loving a geriatric animal. Hugs!

  5. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for giving a senior dog a chance and a good final chapter. ~~~~Erica


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