Puppy Love

Today, I want to tell you about my dogs.

hahahaha No really, I’m serious. They’re so great and I love them so much. Plus who doesn’t love their doggie?!!!

Ok, so drum roll please..

Introducing Sara Bean dog and Lion Coco dog.

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I got Sara Bean dog when I was 13 years old. She belonged to my neighbor who lived down the street who had found her while being a counselor at boy scout camp. The first day I met her I asked if I could take Sara home. My neighbor said no. He was so happy to finally have a dog. The boys in his camp had named her Sara (trust, I would never give my dog such a vanilla name. See: Lion Coco dog). Sara was a puppy then, maybe a year old. I wanted that dog. I asked every day if she could be mine and my neighbor kept saying no.

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Eventually he moved to California and for whatever reason couldn’t take Bean dog with him. His parents were cat people. I finally got to have her. Now, imagine this… I’m 13. My dad is newly working from home. We already have a yellow lab and a wild and loud chocolate lab. Also, this is 2004, the summer before I got pregnant, right. So my whole world is about to explode. I took both of our dogs over to meet Sara before I brought her home. I never asked my parents if I could have her. I just brought her home. hahahaha I feel like this is just a good snap shot of the kind of child I was and what my family was like at the time. What child do you know, who just brings animals home with out asking and the parents are just fine with it?

Ok they weren’t totally fine with it. I think my dad was kind of pissed but he was also at a pretty big peak in his alcoholism so I was not taking anything he said too seriously. In fact, I remember very distinctly leaving one night to go to Dancin’ In the District (Any native Nashvillians know what I’m talking about here?! ugh it was so fun! but I think this particular year it was still at Titans stadium.. I can’t remember). I left the dog in the garage. She was fine, she had food and water and the temperature in there was fine, ok?! This was protocol in our house until a new dog was house trained, or if they had just been spayed and needed to rest, etc. So I’m just following the protocol of having a new dog here, okay?!

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I come home. It wasn’t super late or anything. I walk in the front door. My dad is standing at the top of the stair case in his tighty whiteys holding Bean dog over the fucking banister like a baby. Michael Jackson style basically. My dad is yelling at me “THIS IS NOT HOW YOU LOVE THE PUPPY!” over and over and over again like I had done something wrong.

I’m laughing and shaking my head as I type this because it’s honestly just absurd. Oh, Miles.

Eventually I got the dog in MY possession and basically let my dad know he’d lost his damn mind (accurate statement.) A few weeks later my dad and the dog were snuggled on the couch together all bff.

OH! I forgot I had tried to name Sara “Gorilla” instead. haha I stuck to that for a while, but no one else would call her that and she didn’t recognize it anyway. I forget when it eventually went away. She got her name “Bean” my senior year of high school (4 years later in ‘08) when my friend and I had taken some substances and gone to the Nashville Symphony (honestly, it was an amazing way to spend that time!) and came home that night and my friend says to Sara “You’re such a little bean aren’t you?!” and well my friends, it just stuck.

She has other nick names… Bean, Bean dog, Beanery, Old Lady Bean dog, Sara Bean dog, Sara Bean.. basically any combo of the above haha.

I tried to take Sara to college with me. She lived in my boyfriends apartment at the time. That lasted about a semester until I brought her home to live with my mom. When I moved in to my own house the next year, I took her with me for real and we’ve never been apart for long since.

In May of 2014 Bean dog had one of her eyes removed. She had developed a tumor in her eye and it needed to be removed. I remember Dr. Jones telling me that and I was just so scared. I literally cried for two days straight. But of course, they took it out and she was just fine!

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It’s January of 2019 now and I estimate her to be about 15 years old. She’s mostly healthy but the past two years she has had a couple of issues with Vestibular disease and ever since, she’s had a permanent head cock and often curves her whole body to one side as if she’s still dizzy.

Needless to say, this dog has been with me through everything. I got her in ‘04 and the following year was one of the most insane years of my life. Since then, I’ve gotten married and introduced her to a baby, we’ve moved so. many. times. I thought she was going to die not long after my second daughter was born. She didn’t love having a new baby and shortly after, we moved to a house with no yard and a neighborhood that wasn’t very dog friendly. Basically, there just wasn’t a lot for her to enjoy and I think she was bored and bummed. Since we’ve been at the Love House it’s like she got a new life. She loves to roam around and smell everything since she can’t see or hear well. She doesn’t mind the chickens and mostly ignores them. She still was doing a lot of sleeping all day though. ….Then we got Lion Coco Dog.

Sara had definitely gotten to the point where she wasn’t really down to go on walks especially longer ones anymore. But that changed when we got Lion, which is great. Lion is younger and even though they don’t “play” or even really acknowledge each other, Lion definitely has been keeping Bean dog on her toes. It’s great.

Look how thin she is here, you can see the point in her head.

Look how thin she is here, you can see the point in her head.

In December of 2017 we decided it was time to add a pup to our family. Here were some of the requirements…

  • female

  • rescue

  • not a puppy

  • patient with children

  • won’t eat the chickens

  • larger but not so large I can’t put her in the car on my own

In the summer of 2018 we found this pup and so much more.

The woman who found Lion dog found her north of Nashville about an hour. She posted about Lion on Instagram, another girl reposted it and well, I found it. I literally blew up her Instagram until she would answer me but truthfully it didn’t take long. Lion had been left tied to a tree in 90+ degree heat. She’s a St. Bernard/Great Pyrenees mix so you can imagine the kind of fur she has on her, right? And she’s out in that heat with zero protection, no food or water. Her fur was so mated she couldn’t wag her tail. She had just had puppies and still had her milk but no puppies were anywhere near her. She weighed about 60 pounds. We had to wait for her to gain weight before we could even get her spayed. You could see and feel every bone, and she’d lost some of the fur up the back of her legs and tail. I’m pretty sure she had some kind of bugs on her too and obviously she was incredibly smelly. When she met our vet he looked at her and said he really didn’t think she would have lasted much longer like that. It was honestly so sad. …To put that weight in perspective, she weighs 90 pounds now and is healthy. A female St. Bernard can weigh up to 130 pounds and a Great Pyrenees wouldn’t be far behind!! 60 is wayyyy way too small for her.

We knew we loved her before we met her honestly but I still needed to go through the motions and have her meet Bean dog and my daughter. Everything went great. Better than I could have hoped. For a long time, my daughter wouldn’t touch Lion’s tail or really pet her too much because she was missing so much fur, my daughter thought she would hurt the dog’s skin.

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Lion is honestly so loyal and so gentle. We weren’t home with her 10 minutes before she and Legend were besties. And now whenever my daughter is upset, Lion comes right over to check on her. Some mornings I’ll come in the room and my daughter is lying full on all the way across the dog. Head on head, body on body. And Lion is just totally down for it.

I was worried about her with the chickens. When they were little chicks she seemed a little overly eager to check them out. But now she just heards them. When they’re out of their coop and walk too far down the hill, she just goes and gathers them up.

She’s also super protective about anyone she doesn’t recognize coming in the house. She loves my mom and our house sitter but everyone else she barks at a lllloooooot. Which I appreciate!

My first dog growing up was Nikki. A giant doberman who had been used in a puppy mill and then was abandoned by her owner. She was the best 100 pound buddy I could’ve ever had. I always wanted that for my daughter. And when we got Lion I felt like we found it.

I get so bummed thinking about losing our pup girls. Lion, especially won’t live super long because she’s so big, and Sara’s years are definitely numbered unfortunately. But they’re honestly one of the greatest blessings in my life. I know dogs aren’t for everyone and I absolutely respect that choice but if you ever get the opportunity to bring a sweet pooch in to your family, take it. Love them. Let me love you. Spend the time to train them lovingly. And they will bless your life, your family, your home. I can’t imagine growing up with out our dogs and I wouldn’t have my daughter growing up in a home with out pups. There’s just no better way, in my opinion.

There’s nothing like a girl and her dog.

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LOVE,

MEL BELL SHEFF