A Tail of Two Dogs: Beau Beau and Nanny

This is a tail of two very different dogs that met the same fate. They came from different lives, looked different, and were different, but met the same fate. Let me introduce you to Beau Beau, as he was the older of the two. Beau Beau was a purebred Rat Terrier, my mother's dog that she had since he was a puppy, six weeks old, brown and white male and bought from a breeder. Rat Terriers were my mother's favorite breed as they are small, high-energy and engaging. That is what she loved about them. She sought out Beau Beau as a breeding companion to her female RT named "Missy." She bought him from a breeder, and after purchasing him, she brought him home to our house. It was April Fool's Day of 2004, coincidentally also my husband's birthday. She told me "Let's play a little April Fool's Day joke on Ryan, and tell him that Beau Beau is his birthday present from me." So I agreed, and told my husband that Beau Beau was his birthday present from my mom. When I did, the look on my husband's face told me that he is definitely a cat person. Then after a good laugh, we told Ryan the truth. I held Beau Beau, but being as energetic as he was, he jumped off my shoulder onto the ground. I was so nervous that he was hurt, but he just got up and carried on. Beau Beau has been in our family's life ever since. In 2008, my mother retired and moved to Florida to live with my brother and his kids. Beau, Maddie and my mother lived there until they moved back here in SC in 2012 four years later. (MISSY had passed away in 2009. A few years later, my mom got "Maddie" as a companion to Beau Beau). They have lived here in SC ever since. After my mother passed away in 2015, Beau Beau and Maddie came to live with me from 2016 until the present. But before they did, Nanny was living with us along with Rex. So since then, we have had the four dogs.

Now let me introduce you to Nanny. Nanny was adopted from the local shelter on January 9, 2014, a month after SWEET MOMMA passed (see her story on here titled "An Adoption Tail"). When we, my husband I, adopted her, we wanted a dog that would be both our dog as Sweet Momma was partial to me. I had wanted to adopt another dog from the shelter named "Scottie" but when I went to the Adopt-A-Thon where he was, he had been adopted. However, NANNY was there, but no one had showed interest in her :( So she was still at the shelter when my husband and I went to look. We walked the corridor housing the adoptable dogs, took out a few, and considered them. But what attracted us to Nanny was that she was the only one that engaged with both of us, was medium-energy level, and let me touch her paws, (which is one of my criteria because I trim their nails.) So NANNY it was. When we brought her home, she showed her teeth to our other dogs and cats, so we almost returned her back to the shelter. We got as close to the shelter gate, but kept driving on. We couldn't stomach bringing her back. I will never forget the day: It was a cold day in January. NANNY was enjoying the car ride, too. How do you explain to a dog or any animal why you don't want them. You can't. They don't understand. And we are not the type of people to give up on someone or something. So we brought her back, and I decided to work with her behavioral issues and train her myself. I had a workbook from Petco that I received when my other dog, Rex, had been in obedience training there. So I opened it up and started from scratch. Nanny caught on fast. I would spend about five minutes a few minutes each week in the mornings with her building upon what we worked on prior to the day's lesson. (I was also watching training videos learning how to train her. I was still working with her before she passed away.) Nanny was a very engaging pupil eager to please. She learned the commands: "sit," "stay," and "easy," and we had been working on the stay command for distraction, duration, and distance.

In addition to being a positively productive pupil, Nanny had a happy-go-lucky, personality like her sister, Sweet Momma before her. (Both dogs were also black, but Nanny was black and tan with some white spots.) I used to call her my spunky, chunky, clunky monkey because she had a good personality, was short and long, and had big, clunky feet. Unlike Beau Beau, she was not a purebred dog. She was called a "Beagle Hound Mix" at the shelter, but she had a face like a Rottweiler, and long body and feet like a Bassett Hound. Whatever breed she was, she was special. She would also wag her tale, and it would make me laugh because even if it would hit the wall, she wouldn't stop. She was such a good sport. Also unlike Beau Beau, she was medium energy while he was high energy. She was energetic enough to love walks and get excited about food and treats and when we came home, but she wouldn't tackle you at the door, lol.
Also unlike Beau Beau, Nanny's origin is unknown. She came from a shelter instead of a breeder, and was about five years old when she came into our lives. She had been picked up as loose stray, and no one claimed her. No one sought her ought. She sought us.
Sharing the same fate, both dogs came into our lives. Both dogs enriched our lives, bringing us joy in the form of laughter and companionship. (Beau Beau I called my study buddy because he liked to sit with me while I read my books.) Both dogs brought me comfort after losing someone, and so they were angels without wings. Both dogs taught me a lot about life. I always thought I was training them, but they were training me. Nanny helped me to learn to turn to the Rosary and pray during difficult times, and Beau Beau taught me to prioritize my loved ones and put my family first.

This past year, the year I lost them, (2018 & 2019) was one of the most difficult years of my life, the third worst to me personally. I was sick off and on for six months, and in and out of the hospital four times. In the midst of my being sick, they both started getting sick. Nanny got sick first the last half of the summer (August/Sept.) of 2018. She started shaking a lot, more like shivering, and would stop her walks short. I thought it was because she had a history of a herniated disc in her back, and would shiver in pain when it hurt. So I gave her some pain medicine and thought nothing of it until she started vomiting profusely, and didn't want to go on walks (like her momma, it wasn't unnormal for her to want to sleep in during the cool fall mornings, but then she truly did not want to go for walks and I had to drag her out of bed.) Then within two weeks of her showing signs of being ill, Beau Beau had started showing signs of being ill. He was having a very difficult time going to the bathroom, straining his back so it was hunched over, only to have runny bowel movements and unable to produce streams of urine. I would get upset, but knew something was wrong with him, and it wasn't his fault. I took him to the vet and they treated him with dewormer and antibacterial medications. When he was still showing the same symptoms two weeks later, I brought him back and he received another course of antibiotics. When that didn't work, I was told to bring him to a specialist, as what I was told with Nanny when the local vets did not know what was wrong with them. Both dogs were diagnosed with cancer within two days of each other. They had shown signs of being sick within two weeks of each other. They passed away three months apart. It was a very big shock to me to find out that they had cancer (it has been such a jolt, that I am now just writing this story 3 weeks after Beau Beau has passed away.) Nanny had aggressive lymphoma that had spread, and she was gone within a month of her getting sick. Beau Beau had prostate cancer, which is slower but just as deadly. They apparently had been sick with cancer for months, but because dogs are stoic and want to please their masters, the disease progresses before they show it or you notice something is wrong. It doesn't help that they cannot speak, and tell you something is wrong. So watching for the signs is imperative. I cannot understand how and why two of my four younger dogs that were otherwise healthy and happy could get sick so fast with an illness that wouldn't let their little bodies live, even if they wanted to. The older dogs had more energy and better health than Beau and Nanny did when they died. I believed it was something that my husband, and I were doing and I even asked the vet if it was the food we fed them or the flea control we used. He assured me that it was nothing I did. I will forever be grateful to--and never forget them, their lives, or the love they brought into our lives. May they Rest In Eternal Peace with their brothers and sisters and our mommy in Doggy Heaven.
Beau Beau, February 15th, 2004 -- January 7th, 2019

Nanny-cottie, Adopted January 9th, 2014 -- October 8th, 2018

Comments would be appreciated by the author, NICOLE HERRERA
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