Here is a long-overdue update on Vanilla Bean! First, though, I have to tell my little story: I fell in love with Vanilla Bean when she first came up for adoption. I lived with her on my screen saver at work for two weeks as I thought, "should I or shouldn't I?" It had been over a year since my Sweetie Belle had been put down, the rehab was done on our house and... it was time. And then she got adopted! Oh No! I secretly moped for 2 weeks and then moved on... and we adopted Cleveland.

We had Cleve for a few weeks when Vanilla Bean was suddenly back on the web site! I told Michael it was serendipity... she was meant to be with us! I sent my application that day. When she first came to us off the plane she was one little bundle of energy! We had adopted Cleveland from a small rescue in Howell, Michigan, and we were unprepared for the chaos x2 that ensued. Cleveland is a very laid back Walker, low key and eager to please. We initially thought they may have tranquilized him for the ride, but it just ended up being his personality. Beaner, on the other hand, was everything Cleveland wasn't. She was healthy... Cleve had every worm you could think of and giardia on top of that. Bean came with no manners what-so-ever and it didn't take long to learn that she counter surfed, had the typical hound nose for the garbage can and wasn't house broken. Slowly but surely all of the throw rugs in the house disappeared to the dump. We had to gate off the newly carpeted upstairs and she wasn't allowed to be left alone to roam the house. Her favorite things and our biggest challenges were keeping her out of the cats littler box and food (moved to the basement), off the kitchen table (small mousetraps proved useful), off the furniture (a spray bottle filled with water is always within reach) and keeping her from peeing whenever she felt like it. ALWAYS hyper-vigilant to every little move, sound, door squeak or bump in the night... which our 2 cats provided daily for her. We could never get her to just "lay down and relax". That's why the one picture I am sending of the two of them asleep on the floor is so precious!

But in typical hound fashion, she was so lovable and energetic and starved for attention that it really was a matter of teaching her the "boundaries" and having lots of patience. Nothing less and nothing more. I am happy to report that Bean and Cleveland graduated from puppy obedience school at the end of May! Although food driven to the extreme (no surprise to us hound lovers) during class, she surprised everyone by being a quick learner and a perfect miss manners as long as you kept her attention. She is very smart and a quick learner with anything that involves treats! She now knows "leave it", "with me" and "go lay down" and although she may not actually like to DO those things, she will. She especially loves her treats and Cleveland is no match for this queen of the roost. She will sneak, grab or just plain take anything she wants that he has and he politely lets her. The only thing he won't let her have is his cuddle spot on the living room floor with Michael every night.

She may have more than just Walker in her as she is especially fixated on any kind of birds she happens to spot. She has treed more than one squirrel in the yard and can jump 4 feet in the air if she wants that bee or fly bad enough. We call her our little Mexican Jumping Bean! Their daily trips to our local dog park are heralded by blasting their arrival and now most folks know them by name. Bean tries to out run all the dogs but hasn't been able to beat the giant Labradoodle or Jay, the Grayhound. But she tries!

It has been a long road but she appears to accept the idea that she isn't going anywhere - finally! She's so funny to watch and so opposite Cleveland in personality that it's a constant source of joy to just hang out with the two of them. Every morning after breakfast they have a wrestle play period that sounds a lot like thundering paws in our small Cape. I think the neighbors are used to seeing me in my bathrobe now with two hounds in tow, and although I have had Walkers almost my whole adult life, I have finally figured out to buy my toys at the dollar store. How DO they fit ALL that white stuff in those small spaces? Michael teases me that PetSmart called and my loan has been approved. But I am so much happier with a dog(s) in my life than without and I wouldn't trade either of them for anything. Michael made an interesting comment the other day while we were at the dog park: With all these dogs together, you'de think there would be more problems? I responded that it usually isn't the dogs that create the problems, but the owners.

We are putting in a fence soon, and a storm door with a pet door in it. It will be nice to see them get to go outdoors without having to be on a leash. I sold my Camry and bought a crew cab truck so I could tote these wild children to and fro. And now that they are finally settled in, I look forward to being able to foster more dogs for the AB&TCR - something we had to halt for a time so Beaner could have undivided attention. My heart breaks for every new dog I see on the web site and I look often. It's sort of a hobby and a mini mind break to jump on and see how busy Jayne and Molly have been finding homes for all these cuties. I often copy the web addresses and paste them into e-mails to send to friends if a pic is particularly funny or just too cute for words. I work in organ donation, where bad things happen to good people all the time. At the end of a case, with the meaning of quality of life fully and clearly in focus, I am forever grateful to come home to Beaner and Cleve where I get lots of love and attention tenfold back!

Barbara & Michael

Page last updated on 18 June 2008