Beans – March 30, 2011 – April 21, 2024

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Beans the Boston Terrier looking up at something

It is with much sadness that I write that my Boston Terrier named Beans has passed away. I have known quite a few dogs during my lifetime, but Beans was truly the best. That is not to put down any of the others that I have had but Beans was truly extra-special. He also happened to be the longest lived of the dogs I have had, as far as I can recall back to my childhood.

His 13 year life brought a lot of happiness and laughs to not just me, but to so many others that met him. He as an easy going dog who just wanted mostly to have fun, play, and enjoyed being scratched and petted. With a bit of a stubborn side, his house training when he was a puppy was a bit challenging at times, but once he figured out the routine, he rarely had accidents in the house accept at times when he might have been left alone for more than 8 hours. When those accidents would happen, he’d look at me as if to say, “Look, I’m really sorry but this is your fault for leaving me alone!”

Who can argue with that? Especially when I know he probably did try his best.

He had a lot of adventures in life which I had always meant to get around to writing about – perhaps I still will as those memories come back. Some readers will know that I flew Beans to Athens, Greece in the late spring of 2019. Traveling internationally by flight with a Boston Terrier can be a challenging process with much paperwork to be done, and finding an airline even willing to fly a Boston Terrier. The only airline I could find that would take him because he’s a brachycephalic breed of dog (dogs that have shortened muzzles) was Air Transat.

It was not my intention to keep him in Greece but government policies and regulations around COVID changed many peoples’ plans including mine. So Beans spent the last half of his life in the Mediterranean.

Excellent Health

Beans enjoyed excellent health for most of his life with the only issue prior to the past few years, being an ear infection which we took care of. He did have the odd eye issue – he loved to sniff things and sometimes this would cause him to scratch an eye against a branch or some brush while out on walks. He was taken to the vet a couple of times here in Greece, where a prescription of some eye drops would help him get things healed up.

Even a year ago at 12 years of age, Beans was running around when he could, chasing balls and toys, exploring the olive grove, and was very happy. We did notice he seemed to be having some vision issues and a vet in Keratea advised that he thought he might be getting cataracts, but at that point, he still had some vision.

Declining Health

The average life span of a Boston Terrier is about 13 years old, so as I noticed Beans starting to slow down, I put it up to “old age.” At first, it was gradual – his eyesight being the most noticeable observation. It was pointless however to seek treatment as this would involve surgery and Beans is a dog that cannot undergo anesthesia. When he was a puppy, I had tried to get him sterilized but the Veterinarian in Orangeville refused to follow through after several attempts to anesthetize him. His heart rate dropped dangerously low and I was told he could not have surgery because of a likely heart condition.

So as Beans’ health declined over the past several months, that included watching him bump into things, not bothering with his toys as much, and walking a little slower, it just all went along with the idea that he was “getting old.”

However, last week his health became alarming. I had wanted to make sure Beans was not in pain and suffering, and so I would often check his legs and joints and he did not seem to mind – so he did not appear to have any signs of arthritis or hip issues – it just seemed he was getting tired as old dogs often do. But then, he stopped eating. In just a few days, he lost a lot of weight, and would even refuse his most desired treats that he absolutely loved in the past. Treats that just a month ago, he would “dance,” “sit,” “speak” for on command with some vigour.

Leishmania Parasite Diagnosis

Because Beans’ condition was deteriorating so rapidly, we really wanted to know if he was suffering and at that point, I was mostly prepared to do the “humane” thing and give him rest from any pain and suffering he might be going through. I did not really want to take him to the vet he had seen last year in Keratea as both of us were not that impressed with him. So we found a vet with terrific reviews in Lavrio, AR Kotzampasaki.

This veterinarian was very empathetic towards us and understood the questions and fears we were facing. She suggested we rule out the possibility of something he might be able to be treated for and ordered blood tests and an ultra-scan. At this point, I was prepared to have Beans “put down” but the vet convinced me to have the tests done. We managed to have the ultra-sound exam the next day at a clinic in Chalandri. There, the news was not good at all in that Beans had an enlarged liver which they suspected could be cancer or hepatitis. There were some other issues also discovered.

Later that evening, we received an email from the vet advising that the blood tests came back with a positive detection of Leishmania – a parasite that is passed on with bites from sand flies. I had never heard of this disease before, and after much research, it turns out that Leishmania is quite common in Greece but it can be treated. I truly had my doubts though and thought it was likely Beans had progressed far too seriously.

The vet on the other hand suggested a protocol of some medicines, electrolytes and special food from Royal Canin, and if needed to feed him by syringe. She was asked for her honest and forthright opinion about the chances of this protocol working. Her reply was along the line of, “Well, if it were my dog, I would at least give it a try and see if there is improvement over the weekend.”

So with that, and further research on this disease as well as the medicines she had prescribed, with some hope I started to force feed him and give the medicines on Saturday. I was also asked to try to give him regular feeding of electrolytes and thought to continue this through the night.

Beans was very weak and for the past week, barely got up from his bed to walk unless he needed to do “his business” although in the evening, he did seem to improve slightly. However, at one point I left him while he was sleeping to discuss his diagnosis and protocol from the vet, with an old friend of mine who understands the companionship of dogs and their keepers. When I went back to check on Beans, I was devastated to discover he had passed away in that short time.

It was with disbelief at first, then reality set in.

I have almost 13 years worth of very happy memories with Beans, many photos, and I’ve often thought to write of them here but neglected to do that. As I go through photos of the past that include Beans, perhaps I’ll write more and just how special Beans was.

My lady here, Kyriaki, has known Beans for more than half of his life and so together, we are both feeling a big bite out of our lives at this time. Kyriaki also has had some very memorable and special times when Beans touched her heart – he would become to be just as much her dog as he was mine. In fact, to Beans, his behaviour indicated that he thought of all three of us as a “unit” after he got to know the special companionship that Kyriaki could offer. As our relationship deepened, and over time, Beans would show the same type of “separation anxiety” as he did with me:

Where The Heck Have You Been? Now I Can Eat!

While many dog keepers have dogs that will get overly excited when their keeper comes home after some absence of extended hours, Beans never did that with me. I found it a bit odd at first; strangers to him would come visit and he’d welcome them with excitement. My son who I shared pretty much 50% custody was also someone Beans would always show tremendous excitement when he showed up at the door. Other people that Beans knew also motivated similar reactions, time after time.

But with me, he never did that. Instead, I’d come home and see him up on the arm of the sofa, looking out the window. When I walked in the door, he’d give me a look as if to say, “What took you so long? Why did you not take me with you? You’re finally back.” Then he might go and eat. I would even say out loud to him, “Beans, you’re not excited to see me?”

After a time getting to know Kyriaki, he would do the same, even though I was with him. Or if I had to go out and leave him with Kyriaki, it was the same type of reaction. He wasn’t exactly showing signs of anxiety while either of was gone, but as soon as the one who had been “missing” returned, it was like a “Whew, okay I can go eat now, and then I’ll play.”

Let’s Play

And for most of his life, boy could he play! He could also relax and wait patiently, but when his patience was done, he’d literally run at my leg and head butt me, and look at me, with an expression on his face, “Okay, come on! No more sitting there working! Play!” If I didn’t respond right away, he’d back up and do it again. And again, or he would go and get his “rope toy,” and if my hand was within his reach, literally put one end of the rope into my hand, as he took the other end so he could start pulling on it to play “tug of war.”

At one point when I was working on a project that was taking up a lot of time and focus, I thought to try tying a long stretchable rope that had elastic tension in it, to my filing cabinet. Maybe he could amuse himself with that – tugging away with his strong jaw, and feeling the “pull back” of the elasticity. But no. That did not work. I introduced him to it, and he spent about a minute with my contraption and then brought me the real rope toy with a look and expression to say, “I don’t want to play with the filing cabinet. I want to play with you!”

You’re Half Human, Half Horse, Half Pig, Half Cat, Half….

Other dogs I have had act like dogs. With Beans, you never really knew. He would prance like a horse, snort like a pig, even make sounds that might resemble a cat, and he could fart up a stinky storm like nothing else I’ve experienced (but I did find the BARF diet helped with that horrible stinky characteristic).

He had so much energy until the last year or so, that he truly could both prance and gallop like a horse. He could run and run. When he was just a few months old, I took him to a “dog park” that was divided into a ‘small dog’ and ‘large dog’ area. He was still pretty tiny at that age, so I figured the ‘small dog’ section would be best. But he had so much energy, the other small dogs, most of which were bigger than him at that point, were a bit nervous of him. He was so energetic and so playful, those dogs just did not like him at all.

So I put him in the large dog area to see how that would work out. Perfect. There were big German Shepherds in there and other large breeds. Some were running around – that’s who Beans joined – the runners. But… he could run faster than them, and he would even jump right over them while they were all running. Beans had the other dog owners there, laughing their heads off at his antics. He would run alongside a big German Shepherd and then suddenly leap right over the big dog to the other side, all while having a big smile on his face and his tongue hanging out.

Then there were the noises he would make – of course, every Boston Terrier knows about the snoring this breed can do – and the loudness can be unbelievable that it’s from such a small creature. For me, it was hard to get used to. But later in his life, it would become a salve knowing he was still alive and breathing well. But he could also squeal – sometimes sounding like a pig, and sometimes sounding like an alarmed human baby.

I personally have a habit of when trying to work through a challenging issue, to talk out loud; it helps me focus and think to resolve an issue. I swear that often times, Beans actually understood some of it and he would make various vocal noises to communicate back to me. It got to a point that I could recognize his own sounds expressing different moods or wants.

Often, he would just jump up onto my lap, stretch himself out against my chest, and make some sounds. Sometimes, I’d say to him, “Do you love me, Beans? I love you” and he would press his body harder against mine and give me kisses.

Often, when I am deep in thought and NOT talking out loud, I will move my foot up and down. Beans noticed this and when he did, he would back his body up so his hip was against my moving foot. And he would press hard into it to feel my foot rubbing against him. Then look at me as if to say, “might as well make that moving foot useful to me, if you don’t mind.”

As you might imagine, he was mostly in my life, 24/7. There were times I had to leave him for hours, but those times were relatively rare compared to the majority of dogs where their keepers need to go to work every day. For the first half of his life, we were pretty much the absolute definition of “constant companions.” I knew him, and his ways, and he knew me, and my ways.

When Kyriaki came along into my life, she became an “added bonus” to Beans and he became, as mentioned above, very attached to us three as a “unit.” At one point, there was some tension with Kyriaki, and I made a decision to go out for a long walk… it does not matter if it was the right decision on my part or not, what matters is the fact that Beans literally cried with Kyriaki and comforted her. He just knew.

He’s also cried with me when I’ve been upset, and has calmed me when in states of negativity.

I am going to miss him so much.

No Bites!

Another big thing that needs to be mentioned is about Beans and his teeth. I believe in training dogs, it is very important from the beginning to feed a puppy from your hand. Of course, have a bowl for his food, but stick your hand in that bowl while he is eating. If there is any sign of aggressiveness, admonish the puppy immediately, remove him from the bowl, and hand feed him.

I think this is one key thing to remove aggressiveness that dogs can have about their food. Your dog needs to trust you that you are not “stealing” food from him or her. And, that you are in control. You must be of course, doing this without removing the needed nutrition and not in a spiteful way, but in a way to show the dog he/she never needs to worry about food.

I did this with Beans, and when his teeth got too close to my skin, I’d admonish him loudly, “No teeth!” and touch his teeth with my fingers. It also worked when we were playing, and he might get a little aggressive with ownership of his rope toy or balls… “No teeth!” and a little flick of my finger against them.

Beans was smart enough to get this. There were times he would play a bit harder, and his teeth would rub against my skin… and he immediately knew he had gone to far and he would step back. And I would let him know he was awesome for realizing it. And then we’d play again, and it was obvious he was very cognizant of making sure his teeth came nowhere near my hand. Lips were okay.

In fact, this was such a great feature of Beans, Kyriaki often has remarked how there are so many things she has done, and had no fear of even being scratched by his teeth, and his obvious restraint. Give him a “tube” of pate, one of his favourite treats, and he knew to only use his lips to get that yummy stuff into his mouth. His teeth were never involved.

Master/Dog Relationship – That’s Not What It Was

While I wanted an obedient dog, I also knew I had a dog that had some energy levels I had not really known before in other dogs I had. I also had some experience with dog training, and had learned some different things. Being a “Student of All, Disciple of None,” I did not bother with any one system of training for Beans, but instead, took what I could from various things, observed things, and went my own way. I wanted my dog Beans to obey me of course, but he must also have a spirit himself. So, I went with the idea more of him and I being partners, but some activities were expected, and some activities were banned.

At the same time, he could also master me and let me know what he wanted. And I’d experiment with that. There is a position for dogs called the “submission position” where a dog will lay on his back – and is a sign of submission to another. When he was a puppy, sometimes I would make sure he knew he had to submit to me, but I’d mix that up with sometimes myself laying on the floor on my back and letting Beans “hop on pop” as a sign that I wanted to know his interests very much. Of course, this was done rarely, but as a little gift to him. And he’d slabber me with licks and kisses.

Did it all work? I’d say yes. I was his “Master,” only because I had a bit more intelligence than him and had to deal with real human stuff, that he could not do. But he also was a “master” at times, letting me know when he needed or wanted something, but never was aggressive about it in any way.

And he treated other people the same way.

I wanted him to respect me, but I also acknowledged respect and love for him. The dog needs to know that he is not there just for your enjoyment, but also he can express and feel joy or whatever that is in an anthropomorphic sense. The dog’s needs, emotions, fears, etc need to be recognized and acknowledged.

We’re not perfect at it… as is obvious that I did not see the signs that it was not just old age that took Beans, and for that I feel some guilt.

Maybe there is a “doggie heaven” that dogs go to, and if so, maybe Beans’ spirit is up there, reading this, and knowing what I am feeling, and also laughing with all the other dogs, and saying, “Yeah, my keeper was saucy at times, and so was I saucy, and we shared some laughs a lot together, and he taught me things that were important, and I taught him things that were important. Then he took me on adventures and I got to meet even more special people.”

I don’t know if you are “resting,” Beans, or there is some other “state” the consciousness moves onto, or if death is simply the end – but whatever it is, you were the best dog ever.

I “mastered” you into what was expected, while you also “mastered” me into letting me know you understood, and what you needed to have to be a full companion, which you did amazingly.

4 thoughts on “Beans – March 30, 2011 – April 21, 2024”

  1. The Scott family in sunny Queensland, Australia are saddened to hear of your pet ‘Beans’ passing it is always sad to hear of a family members passing, and your story of your dog ‘Beans’ is truly touching and brings much sadness to anyone reading a story of a relationship of love, respect, caring, faithfulness and loyalty that a mans best friend can bring into a mans life is remarkable as well as touching.

    The loss and grief is something that we all come to manage-we pass on our condolenscences to you Ian Scott, take care from the Scott family in Queensland, Australia.

    1. Thank you for your comforting comments, Edward! I know there is a reply on another post that I have not responded to as of yet, but have just been so very busy and with other matters on my mind. I do appreciate you taking the time to send your thoughts and kind words on the passing of Beans. It is very much appreciated.

  2. My condolences on your loss Ian, there are no real words to describe the unconditional love the sweet souls bring, and the hole in our hearts they leave when they go.

    He’ll be waiting for you on the other side, rest assured my friend.

    1. Thanks so very much for your comment and thoughts, John. I appreciate that you took the time to write and leave a supportive comment.

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