She was the picture of tenacity.
Whether tugging on a doggy rope or chasing a ball across the yard, she had a never-give-up attitude.
Her name was BeBe and we got her because my husband, Chuck, always wanted a Boston terrier. Chuck liked the looks of the breed and related to their determination — something he’d had to have his whole life.
Chuck’s life wasn’t easy, but he demonstrated the same resilience he saw in the little black and white dogs.
So after our two old hounds died, I encouraged him to get whatever dog he wanted.
I remember the day I came home from work and was met at the door by a blur of a dog, rapidly bouncing around like a super ball on steroids.
Chuck wanted to name her Betty.
“You can’t name our dog, Betty. You have an aunt by that name,” I said, not wanting to insult one of his relatives.
So Chuck relented and named the active little dog, B.B. — which was short for Betty Boop or one of his all-time favorite musicians, B.B. King.
Chuck frowned when I started spelling the dog’s name, “BeBe,” in my columns, but didn’t say anything.
I’m not sure why I did that. Maybe I wanted a dog whose name was more than a couple of initials.
Whatever the case, I believe God taught me lessons through BeBe — just like he’d done with our other dogs.
It took me a little while to get used to her, though.
I’m a big-time dog lover, but even I shrank back when wiggly BeBe jumped toward me. I’d cover my face with my arms only to find her wildly licking them as if to say she really did like me.
BeBe was about 2 years old by the time Chuck found and adopted her. She’d been surrendered by another family that already had other dogs, cats and children.
She seemed to like men, but was more wary of women — so I didn’t try to pick her up at first.
When I heard her yelping in the yard one day, I asked our then-17-year-old son, Zach, to pick her up after we realized she’d been stung by a bee or wasp.
I drove like Batgirl to get BeBe and Zach to the veterinarian’s office.
The bee sting left in her welts, giving her a reptilian look.
If you like Star Wars, you’ll understand when I say she looked like Yoda in a tuxedo.
Actually, she kind of looked like an alien to me, anyway.
As someone accustomed to dogs with long noses — matching my own profile — I wasn’t quite used to one with such a short snout.
“Oh well,” I eventually told myself. “She may not look like a dog, but she sure loves like one.”
To be truthful, she probably loved better than most dogs.
She was so incredibly loyal.
I’d give her a treat to keep her occupied as I hurried out the door to head to work, because I couldn’t stand to hear her whine when I left.
She barely left my side after I came home from having surgery and barked like the house was on fire whenever I came home from work.
When I sat down, she’d hop on her hind legs and put a front paw on my lap, waiting for me to rub her neck and ears.
Unlike hounds, who tend to be food-motivated, she was stirred by the chance to play.
The crazy dog should have been in a circus. I wish I’d shot video of our 19-pound pooch rolling a 5-gallon plastic bucket around the backyard. She’d jump on it and bite it.
You could barely see her face as she picked up the bucket and carried it around the yard.
We took the bucket away after I noticed she was missing one of her bottom teeth.
But she was not deterred.
She knocked over a little evergreen tree we planned to plant. She pulled off the tree’s bucket to play with it. Half of the small pine burned on the hot cement patio and the tree never recovered.
We took that bucket away, too, but BeBe still had an assortment of balls — most of which she chewed up. She even deflated a football and a couple basketballs.
We weren’t gambling folks, but I always laughed because we had our own doggy race track — a mud path she’d made running up and down the fence with the neighbors’ pup.
Despite her goofy personality, I grew to love BeBe more each year.
I don’t know if BeBe fully understood when Chuck died. I wondered if she missed the man who came home from work and let her lie on his chest on the couch. They must have made a lot of noise — snoring together as they snoozed.
Whatever BeBe thought, she and Buzz, a Sheltie-mix that Chuck and I adopted, were a lot of comfort after my husband died. Buzz died at a ripe old age and by then I’d adopted Daisy. She and BeBe tolerated each other.
Funny thing, I always thought Daisy would go first, but she’s still going pretty strong.
Awhile back, though, BeBe started limping and I figured she must have pulled a muscle.
I took her to the veterinarian and got her medicine, but she kept limping. We went back and after an X-ray, the vet said she had arthritis. She got more medicine.
Then during mid-March flooding, BeBe was waking me up at night.
The vet sent us to a specialist, who diagnosed the problem.
BeBe had bone cancer. The strange thing was that it had manifested on her left shoulder blade — not the lower parts of the leg like it does in most cases.
The specialist figured BeBe had three to six months to live.
I was shocked as was my daughter-in-law, Rachel, who’d gone to the appointment with us.
The specialist gave us more medicine and I royally spoiled BeBe, who got chicken nuggets, mini corndogs and other treats.
She was such a tough dog, hopping along — quite fast actually — on three legs. She’d hop up and put the one good front paw on my lap, waiting for me to rub her ears.
If she wanted to be with me before, she really did now — even waiting at the top of the stairs until I’d finished walking on the treadmill and made my way up from the basement.
I’ve dearly loved every dog I’ve ever had, but I grew to admire BeBe, who showed more tenacity than ever.
She tolerated the pills I tried to hide in peanut butter for a long time.
Eventually, she started spitting them out.
Rachel went with me when I took BeBe on what I thought would be our last trip to the veterinarian’s office together.
But BeBe proved more tenacious than I ever expected.
She jumped around, clearly not wanting to be there. She’d put her paw on Rachel’s leg and lick her hand.
I just couldn’t put BeBe down that day. She was still too full of life.
BeBe rapidly hopped across the lobby and waited at the front door, looking over her shoulder at me as if to say: “We’re going now, aren’t we?”
I took her home. And the next day, she went out in the backyard and laid in the grass with her feet in the air as she soaked up the sun, something she loved to do.
Late last week, I was at home working on a story when I went to check on her in the bedroom.
She was gone. I wish I’d petted her one last time, but BeBe knew I loved her and she loved me.
Experts say memories made in love can never be taken away.
And despite the loss, I’d have another dog like her in a heartbeat.
Why? Because the love you get throughout the years is always worth the pain of loss.
Grief is the price you pay for loving.
It’s the cost of not loving that is too great.
As Christians we know Jesus paid love’s highest cost when he died on the cross to save us from our sins and pave the way so we can spend eternity with him.
Was it worth it?
I believe Jesus would say it was — especially when he sees our faces.
The Bible describes Jesus as a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. He understands our suffering, yet is the author of joy.
He’s taught me a lot through BeBe, a four-legged example of deep-hearted loyalty and affection.
And a dog so very tenacious when it came to love.