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Reinfried Beans

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Jan 10

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My husband and I foster for a dog rescue program in our home city. One day, while at work, I saw a group email with the screaming title, “BEANS THE CHIHUAHUA NEEDS HELP!”

I immediately opened the chain and began to read, my heart breaking almost instantly. A small, blurry photo of a small tan dog, hunched over and scared, a front leg tucked underneath her chest, unable to even hold her head up for the intake photo, was the first thing I saw.

I hit reply.

After sending an email letting the intake coordinator know we were interested in helping, I read Beans’ story, and became more invested. The poor little girl was at a puppy mill, being used for breeding even though the owner’s “coworker” had kicked Beans, breaking her front left leg. Instead of taking her to the vet, they wrapped the leg up, pinning it against her body, and continued to breed her.

It made me sick, and still does, that anyone could do something like this to such an innocent creature. I was determined to help in any way possible.

Beans arrived terrified, refusing to leave her crate in our backyard. It was winter, but my foster partner and I stayed out side, coaxing the little pup despite the growls coming from the crate before us.

We were told she was male reactive, so my husband stayed inside for the time being with our other foster dog, waiting patiently.

Eventually, Beans made it out of her crate. To me, that was the first step of trust and the turning point in our relationship, and to have that happen so early on was groundbreaking. The moment she came out, however, tears sprang to my eyes.

The broken leg, which had healed already as the injury had been a year and a half prior, was so much worse than the photo had shown. It was clear it had broken in several spots, and healed horribly. As Beans wearily sniffed her new surroundings, I could see that the leg weighed her down, tipping her forward to the point that she had to use a bend in it for balance.

Beans wasn’t ready to be picked up quite yet, but we needed to get her inside and out of the cold. Avoiding any fast, sudden movements, I draped a soft towel over her, and she allowed me to lift her once she was wrapped up and secure in my arms.

My heart breaking, I took the little girl into what became her new home.

With my husband and other dog still upstairs, my foster partner and I let Beans explore.

She sniffed everything. Fear gradually dissipated as curiosity took over. We fed her a little peanut butter to get something into her tummy, and she lapped it up. It was clear she wanted to trust us, but was still scared, so we migrated into the living room and onto the couch.

Per instruction, I avoided any eye contact and kept my voice high and my heart open. I sat and talked with my foster partner and just let Beans do her thing.

After a few more moments of sniffing, another breakthrough occurred: she came over and pawed at my leg with her good one. I slowly reached down, wrapped the towel around her again, and lifted her up to place her on the couch next to me.

Beans instantly sniffed me and sat on my left, her eyes darting back and forth as if something was going to happen at any moment. We kept talking, ignoring the urge to pet her just in case that might set her off, and soon, she was on my lap.

Once she realized she was safe, Beans was very content to sit with me and let me pet her. We came very far in only a couple of hours, but the challenges were still aplenty.

Next, we had to bathe her. And yes, I was nervous!

Wrapping Beans up again, I slowly carried her upstairs, worried in the back of my mind that she would snap or even bite when we put her in the tub.

But, oh, did she love the bath! She seemed to realize that not only did she need one, but that it was a big stepping stone to her new life, and she stayed calm as we shampooed her dirty fur and toweled her dry.

The last task of the day was to see how she did with my husband. We didn’t want to overwhelm her, but we also needed to know if she was going to be okay in a house with a male. Beans had already done a ton of sniffing around, so she definitely knew he was there. She’d been so brave thus far, and we had high hopes for the little girl moving forward.

I called out to my husband, who responded in a light voice. Beans’ ears pricked up, but she did not bark or growl. She looked to the stairs, where moments later, my husband began to descend.

We had been talking through the door, so she had heard his voice, too, at least, but this was the first time she saw him. Our foster partner had said that on the transport, Beans had done nothing but growl at one of the men in the car, so we all took extra care and watched Beans’ reaction closely.

The plan was to have a conversation without making eye contact, and for my husband to sit in the recliner, not on the couch. Beans seemed curious, but not as fearful as we had expected, so my husband sat down, also ensuring he didn’t make any fast movements.

The next part of the process was for me to walk upstairs and leave our foster partner with my husband to see how Beans reacted. I went upstairs and held my breath. I could hear them both murmuring but couldn’t quite make out what was being said. Those were some long moments.

Finally, I could bear it no longer, and called downstairs to see what was going on. My husband replied, stating I could come back down if I wished. Of course I did!

The sight I came back to filled my heart with joy: not only was Beans calm, but she was sitting on my husband’s lap!

This was her first night with us. We gave her the entire second bedroom, setting up a crate and two beds and plenty of towels and blankets along with food and water dishes. I even got her a night light just in case.

As the days passed, we were able to introduce Beans to our other foster, and although they didn’t seem too happy to be sharing a house now, they got along better than I had thought.

After a few months of adjusting, Beans was an entirely new pup. She played and goofed off, often getting what we call “the zoomies”, where she got low to the ground and ran in circles, making a funny little chuffing noise until she could get her teeth on a toy to chase around.

But that crippled leg kept toppling her over, and it was clear it pained her. She would yelp at random times, and often when she jumped up onto the couch or hunkered down in one of her beds (to this day she likes to burrow underneath blankets, very reminiscent of how she wanted to be wrapped in towels that first day).

We took her for many different opinions from many different surgeons. Only one said he could attempt to save the leg, but as it happened when she was so young, he didn’t think the bones had fully developed and straightening it out might cause further complications for her, leading to amputation regardless.

The many doctors we visited as well as the foster program agreed that amputation would be best for little Beans.

And I was devastated.

The day of her surgery, I bawled the moment I dropped her off. When she came back to us shaved and with the leg gone and her side stitched up (it was so much bigger than I had imagined it could be), I cried again. But I did it in private, away from the brave little girl.

Despite every single person telling me that animals bounce right back after an amputation, Beans unfortunately did not.

Recovery was long and difficult for Beans, with many sleepless nights full of whimpering and yelping. As the days went on, Beans got better, but continued to randomly screech, even if she was sleeping. It was heartbreaking.

But she pulled through. Beans made it. And now she is the happy, rightfully spoiled Princess of the House. Just look at the difference (below)!

To this day, I still feel rage at the people who hurt her, and at anyone who could do such a thing to any animal. I also feel horrible about what she went through, and often wish I could do more for her.

Then I look into those huge, loving, brown eyes of hers and can physically feel the strong bond we have for each other, and I know she loves me just as deeply as I love her.

Fully recovered, Beans now enjoys playing with stuffed toys (tossing them into the air so she can chase them), running in short bursts in the park, and getting her adoptive sister – the foster we had when Beans arrived, who we adopted, too – to partake in “the zoomies” as often as she can.

The world can be a scary, horrible place. The determination, trust, and strength of this little Chihuahua, however, has shown me just how happy you can be with a little hope and a little courage.

 


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