This is a story of three Boston terriers and how each one came to live with my husband and me. I wrote about the first two in my memoir, Beyond the Visible Edge, sharing how each one helped me deal with the loss of a son. The next chapter is beginning soon, as we prepare to welcome our third Boston terrier.
Part One – Motif’s Diamond Lil – The demanding, playful one
When we first saw Lil, she was one of three dogs snoozing in a playpen near a horse stall at the Illinois State Fair. As we walked by, she jumped up and started pawing eagerly over the top railing, reaching toward my husband. His uncle had owned a Boston terrier, and Russ knew something about this breed. He picked her up.
She licked his face with happy enthusiasm, and he laughed and put her down to wipe his face. She brought him a green rubber pencil, holding it in her mouth while her little white paws reached out for him over the railing. She was so cute! We smiled and walked on. We didn’t need a dog; we owned four horses.
Unforgettable and Meant to be Ours
Lil had made an unforgettable first impression, however. For months, Russ talked about that dog and wished we had the owner’s name. I finally decided he needed that dog, and so I needed to find her. I searched the internet, made phone calls and sent emails—until I found someone who knew that very dog. After talking to the owner, I announced to Russ that he would be getting a four-legged live Christmas present.
It took a few days to adjust to her overeager, demanding personality, but she soon won our hearts. By then I believed, and still do, that we were meant to have that dog. Perhaps Lil knew it that day we first saw her. I got her for my husband, and he held her in his lap every day and loved on her. But guess who fed her and walked her and played with her—me, of course—and I loved every minute!
Lil Had Spunk!
At the time Lil came to live with us, I was focused on a son’s struggle with terminal cancer. She ignored my worries and demanded that I play with her. She would drop a toy at my feet, then back up and give me that look, daring me to grab the toy before she did. She helped me smile when I didn’t feel like smiling. Her joyful personality was contagious.
Our favorite story about Lil revealed a lot about her personality. I was working in my office one day when she ran in and started pawing frantically at my knee. I got up and followed her back into the living room where my husband sat with a guilty grin on his face.
“OK, what did you do?” I asked him. He replied, “I was trying to read the TV guide, and she wouldn’t stop pestering me. So I popped her lightly on her bottom with the rolled up paper. I knew when she ran out of here that she was going to snitch on me!” Yes, Lil knew how to get sympathy when she needed it, but she never stopped pestering Russ for attention.
For three and a half years, Lil helped me through many sad days before and after my son died. Three months later, Lil went to sleep one evening right there in our living room; and she didn’t wake up. In a state of shock, Russ and I held each other and cried for a long time. It may have been a stroke or a heart attack; we’ll never know. We had her cremated, and her little black urn is on his desk.
At first, we said we would never get another dog. But we did. The hole that Lil left in our lives had to be filled. Two months later, we drove to Elgin, Illinois, to meet Suzanne Shiloh (motifbostons.com) and get another Boston terrier.
More about Boston Terriers and their backstory…