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A Brief History of Chet

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

My husband Bill worked on me for 13 years, trying to get me to admit that we needed a dog in our lives. My answers were always the same. "I don't need any more things to care for. I already care for everything around here. If we got a dog, it would be my dog, and I don't want a dog. It would chase the wildlife. I like having wildlife right in the yard. There would be hair in our butter and sheets." Etc. etc. etc. Well, all those things are true. I really don't need any more things to care for. Except that Chet cares for me. We got a dog, and he is MY dog. And I LOVE that. He does chase the wildlife. I no longer have a bunny or deer problem in my gardens. There is hair in the butter and sheets. No comment.
Chet came about because I was doing a lot of bird rehab, and Phoebe and Liam were falling in love with every creature we raised. We weren't deliberately making pets of them, but when you feed a creature every half-hour, and see it through from a naked pink nestling to a flying bird, you do get attached. If you're cold-hearted about it, the babies aren't going to thrive--at least that's my philosophy. Everyone needs to know someone love them--especially young things. When we released them, Phoebe would weep and Liam would worry that they might not be all right without us. I had an epiphany one July evening, as the last of seven dearly beloved hand-raised chimney swifts fluttered off into the evening sky. This child needs a dog. And so do I. Something to love, that won't leave us.
I saw an ad in the newspaper, a female dog for sale, half rat terrier, half Boston terrier. That sounded like a nice-sized dog. I called. And called, and called. Nobody ever answered. Until the end of the week, when a slack- sounding man picked up and said simply, "She sold it." I was furious, for no good reason, other than that I'd decided I wanted that dog, and was thwarted. Thank God, I was thwarted. Who knows what I'd have gotten. But I'm glad I saw that ad, because it pointed me in the right direction.

So one fine evening in November 2004, telling no one, I started surfing. I kept it to myself because I wasn't sure I could go through with it. Boston terriers seemed like a good place to start. Although I had never even met one, I thought they were cute, and I'd heard they were smart and funny. Smart was my first criterion. I'd grown up with a wicked smart standard x mini dachshund. I did not want a doofy dog. And I wanted a clean, medium-sized short-haired dog that would be athletic enough to hike with us and romp with the kids. Which kind of ruled out pugs, another breed which had always appealed to me. I read up on Boston terriers, and two hours later I was "just checking" to see if there were any breeders nearby. The only Ohio breeder I found wouldn't have puppies until June. Thwarted again.

I read web site after web site. And then I found a breeder in eastern Pennsylvania (a mere 8 hours away) whose philosophy I liked. She bred for temperament and health. She wouldn't ship her puppies. I emailed her, and she responded quickly. I emailed Jane some pictures of our place, and a link to my web site. We set up a time to talk. We talked for almost 40 minutes, and got along like a house afire. Although she represents a number of other private Boston terrier breeders, Jane decided she wanted me to have one of her very own home-bred puppies. Since she kept only two females at the time, and got one litter a year out of each, this was a big deal. On the strength of our communication, she bumped me from the bottom to 2nd on her waiting list. What an honor! Her young female, Chili Bean, was due to whelp in December. I was beside myself. O, the power of the Internet. A non-dog person goes from zero to 60 in one evening. To be continued...


I wasn't really fond of boston terriers because one of their ancestors are bulldogs. Bulldogs have bad reputations for being violent and were originally bred for fighting. After looking at the pictures and reading your blog about Chet, it changed my perspective on Boston terriers. I feel Chet's a compassionate dog and truly deserves your family's love. This blog is a lovely idea...happy thoughts always get me smiling through difficult times in my life.

Dear LyrMar,
The kind of bulldog that was a progenitor of the Boston breed was the short-legged, jowly kind, and anyone who knows one will assure you that they are tenacious, but never vicious; in fact they are big smooshballs. Pit bulls are another matter. Boston terriers are one of the few breeds developed merely for companionship; they weren't bred to fight anything. Thank you for your nice words.

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