All it took was puppy-dog eyes and a big hug

Breanna in 2001 (about 9 months old.)

Ten years ago yesterday, a little beagle-mix mutt was born. Well, maybe. I don’t actually know her real birthday, but it was 8 weeks from that day that I decided to adopt her, so January 6 was the birthday I gave her.

Ten years ago I was sharing a 2-bedroom apartment with Shannon. Both of us were recent college graduates, trying to find that place between college students and real-world adults. And I wanted a dog something fierce.

I grew up with dogs; my parents always had one or two around, usually 2. I’d been without dogs for the 4 years I was in college and to me, it was a sign that I was an actual adult. And I couldn’t wait to have a cuddly sidekick.

Shannon and I didn’t exactly decide to get a dog for sure that day; we only wanted to go look. Just to see what the rescue group had to offer. Just to see.

Uhm, yeah. Don’t do that unless you mean it. I’m surprised we didn’t adopt 4 or 5 dogs that day. We wanted each and every one of them.

I knew Breanna was going home with me when I picked her up and she literally wrapped her little paws around my neck and hugged me. She was shaking and scared, and she needed me.  

$70 later, and I had a micro-chipped 8-week-old puppy. And nothing else. No food. No crate. No toys. Shannon and I drove straight from the rescue group to PetSmart, where we filled up a cart with all the necessities, and where we learned Breanna was scared of carts.

She was scared of a lot of things back then – Leashes. Crates. Vacuum cleaners. Baths. Ear cleaner (it took me, Shannon and Mark all holding her down the first time).

We both had a lot to learn. I thought I knew what it took to raise a dog, having been around them my whole life. But I’d never had a beagle and I didn’t know about the barking, or the howling, or the crying, or how to get her to just shut up already. (Ten years later, and I still don’t know.) I didn’t know how to keep her from throwing up underneath the couch (I figured it out – you wait until she grows too big to fit under the couch.) I didn’t know how to trim her nails, how to get her on a good sleep schedule, how to keep her from diving into the floor of the car while I was driving.

Breanna trying to eat bubbles in 2001.

And together, we learned it all. It was not easy. There were many times I considered just bringing her back to the rescue group. But I never did it, and one day I woke up and realized she’d grown from annoying puppy to just about the best dog I could ever ask for.

She endured when my parents’ dog Tiffany came to live with me and her.

Tiffany and Breanna, 2001

She even endured when Jeff and I adopted Kishin from the Humane Society.

May 2002 - Kishin's first day
May 2002 - Kishin's first day

As an adult, she still talks too much, and she definitely expects everything to be about her – if you’re not giving her attention, that just doesn’t work for her. But she’s the best cuddler I know and she listens and does what I tell her. And she’s an awesome hiking partner.  And running partner. And most of the time she’s pretty nice to Kishin.

Kishin adores Breanna, and she Breanna puts up with Kishin. Them in 2004.
The dogs in 2006. Best running partners ever!

And 10 years later, I can’t believe it’s been 10 years. And I wouldn’t take back a minute of it.

Breanna yesterday, on her 10th birthday