The Odd Mix

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Location: Virginia, United States

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Bean

Four years ago this June, we were moving to the beach.

Well, sort of. We were moving to a house on an 800 acre farm, located two right turns past the middle of nowhere. Which meant, at the time, that it was perfect for us. It was a little, block built cottage in a spit of land between the lower Potomac River and one of its minor tributaries. It did have a beach – three miles of it, in fact, all to ourselves.

We were offered the use of a small silo on the farm for a storage building. It took two moving vans to get our stuff out there, and we stopped to drop off some of our things in the storage building; my wife giving instruction to the movers while I sat in our van with the kids.

I looked up to see her walking toward me with a funny look on her face holding a fuzzy, black bundle. It was a puppy. “Oh, no”, I thought, “We do NOT need another dog!” And I rolled down the window and said so before she could open her mouth. How wrong I was!

She said it had just come running up to her from under the moving truck. She said we couldn’t just leave it to die – for die it surely would. She said we would just get it cleaned up and take it to the shelter. She said we wouldn’t keep her. What could I say?

We took her to the house and gave her a bath. MDW stopped counting the ticks she pulled off at forty. Under her thick, downy coat she was skin and bones (the vet weighed her at 8 lbs at an estimated 12 weeks), but she showed not a hint of food aggression – just an endless desire to play. She wasn’t really black, but the color of very strong coffee. She had white paws, a white tail tip, and a white chest. We put her in a play pen on the porch to keep her safe ‘till the shelter opened.

Then I made my fateful “mistake”. I picked her up and looked into those bright brown eyes, smelled that clean puppy smell, and she licked my nose.

I looked at MDW and said, “She is awfully cute!”

“So what shall we name her,” she asked? For in using those words I had said we were keeping her. And we did.

I named her Java, for the color of her coat and my favorite programming language. Sometimes we called her Java Bean for fun, and The Bean for short. We believe she is half Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Most of the rest we think is Border Collie with a little hound or beagle mixed in – But she is all Java.

She has always loved water – even when it there was a skim of ice. She has never roamed far from the house unless escorting a car away. She would hunt and eat grasshoppers and frogs, giving us a clue to how she survived until we found her. She grew fast - she now weighs over eighty pounds of lean muscle. And she melted the heart of everyone who got to know her. She still does.

Today she is the Beta Bitch at our house. While she never tries to assert dominance over the “puppies” (our kids), she is unfailing in her duties toward them. When the kids are home, she is the faithful guardian – either lying next to the kids or at the door, or outside patrolling and alerting us to anyone approaching. When the kids are outside, she is right there with them. She doesn’t need a leash – never has – she knows right where she is supposed to be. If someone she loves is sick or sad she sits in front of them and puts a paw on their knee or licks their nose as if to say, “It’s OK. I love you! You will be all right because I am here to help you.”

In the winter, MDW will put the kids in the truck and have them sit in it to stay warm while she does her chores in the barn. When she does, Java goes too. She doesn’t get in the truck – she couldn’t keep guard properly there. Her self appointed post is outside by the rear drivers’ side tire. She will sit there no matter what the conditions are – sun or rain; sleet, slush, or snow; dust or mud – she is right there.

She has never bitten a person – she hasn’t needed to. She has trapped the exterminator on top of her car. The UPS man routinely puts packages in a plastic bag and leaves them in our driveway – without ever getting out of his truck. At night she is just eerie; she appears like a large black shadow.

When I leave for work in the wee hours of the morning I look back in my mirror and the last thing I see is a regal silhouette at the edge of the porch light. It is a comforting sight indeed – for I know The Bean is on duty.


Blogger judypatooote said...

Oh I love that story.....I just love dogs too.....Java is such a cute name....I love the picture of your little girl and Java with a tiera on.....thanks for sharing...

6:48 PM, April 09, 2006  
Blogger Mom Underground said...

What a great story! I love animal stories.

8:53 AM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger R. Robyn said...

Such an interesting way to become parents to a beautiful dog. I hope you have many more years with Java.

9:02 AM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger Tink said...

It seems she's constantly repaying you and yours for the chance you gave her. I love dogs. Jazzi, my friend of 8 years, has been through hell and back with me. She's slept in my car with me, moved 4 times, willingly let little kids pull out her fur, attacked someone who meant me harm, kept me warm when I had no heat, and forgave me when I couldn't pay her the attention she deserved.

12:53 PM, April 10, 2006  
Anonymous just susie said...

She's a gorgeous lady. Shows how love, when planted, can truly bloom.

8:10 PM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger suburban mom said...

She looks so sweet. What a wonderful story.

10:08 PM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger Jennboree said...

Rescued dogs have always proven to me to be the most appreciative and loving, just like our Big Sophie who found us on a snowy February 14, three years ago.

Oh and thanks for making me cry before I even have my morning decaf! (ha! Like decaf does anything)

8:51 AM, April 11, 2006  
Blogger WILLIAM said...

I wish my dog was like that.

6:51 PM, April 11, 2006  
Blogger Lucky Lum said...

The perfect family dog!

1:34 PM, April 12, 2006  

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