Dog Lived (and So Will I)

Dog Lived (and So Will I)

4.4 127
by Teresa Rhyne
     
 

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The #1 New York Times bestseller
The #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller
The USA Today bestseller

"Funny, smart, uplifting, and fun, The Dog Lived (and So Will I) reminds us that animals are among our best teachers, our most powerful healers, and our most steadfast friends. I loved it!"—Sy Montgomery, author of The Good Good

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Overview

The #1 New York Times bestseller
The #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller
The USA Today bestseller

"Funny, smart, uplifting, and fun, The Dog Lived (and So Will I) reminds us that animals are among our best teachers, our most powerful healers, and our most steadfast friends. I loved it!"—Sy Montgomery, author of The Good Good Pig

The tale of a dog who wouldn't let go and the woman who followed his lead.

Teresa Rhyne vowed to get things right this time around: new boyfriend, new house, new dog, maybe even new job. But shortly after she adopted Seamus, a totally incorrigible beagle, vets told Teresa that he had a malignant tumor and less than a year to live. The diagnosis devastated her, but she decided to fight it, learning everything she could about the best treatment for Seamus. Teresa couldn't possibly have known then that she was preparing herself for life's next hurdle — a cancer diagnosis of her own.

She forged ahead with survival, battling a deadly disease, fighting for doctors she needed, and baring her heart for a seemingly star—crossed relationship. The Dog Lived (and so Will I) is an uplifting and heartwarming story about how dogs steal our hearts, show us how to live, and teach us how to love.

"This poignant and fast—moving memoir of Teresa and Seamus—both definitely Type A personalities—is proof that even a hard—charging lawyer is no match for a big—hearted beagle. Their mutual triumph over terrible trials is a testament to the healing power of dogs. Four paws up!" —Martin Kihn, author of Bad Dog (A Love Story)

"This encouraging tale of finding love and love in unexpected places is full of small yet valuable life lessons that any animal—lover would appreciate."—Publishers Weekly

"A book that dares to be honest and sad and hilarious all at once. It will help inspire many people to respond to the unexpected in their own lives with humor and grace."—Susan Conley, author of The Foremost Good Fortune

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Discouraged by her past and hoping to turn a new leaf, divorced 41-year-old Rhyne vows to follow a convenient “alphabet life,” for all she needed was “Alcohol, Books, Coffee, and Dogs.” Moving to the suburbs of Los Angeles and casually dating a handsome younger man from her writing class, she is off to a good start when she meets the rambunctious beagle, Seamus. Although initially reluctant, she quickly finds her love of beagles rekindled. Yet soon after Seamus joins the household, he is diagnosed with cancer, with less than a year to live. Witnessing Seamus’s courageous battle for survival helps Rhyne deal with the challenges of his treatment, unexpectedly preparing her for her biggest battle yet—her own breast cancer diagnosis. Rhyne’s self-deprecating humor is mostly charming, but at times comes across as insecure. This encouraging tale of finding love and hope in unexpected places is full of small yet valuable life lessons that any animal-lover would appreciate: “Seamus had taught me this before... sometimes, you just need to focus on the cookies.” Agent: Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"A story about the courage to confront the adversities we all encounter and about love, both human and canine, and the strength love gives us to go on." - Larry Levin, New York Times bestselling author of Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love

"Funny, smart, uplifting and fun, The Dog Lived (And So Will I) reminds us that animals are among our best teachers, our most powerful healers, and our most steadfast friends. This unforgettable story of an irrepressible beagle, a tough lawyer and her unlikely boyfriend will make you cry a little and laugh a lot. Whether you're facing a scary illness or just a blah Monday, this book is good medicine. I loved it." - Sy Montgomery, author of The Good Good Pig

"This poignant and fast-moving memoir of Teresa and Seamus — both definitely Type A personalities — is proof that even a hard-charging lawyer is no match for a big-hearted beagle. Their mutual triumph over terrible trials is a testament to the healing power of dogs. Four paws up!" - Martin Kihn, author of Bad Dog (A Love Story)

"This encouraging tale of finding love and hope in unexpected places is full of small yet valuable life lessons that any animal-lover would appreciate." - Publishers Weekly

"This book does a great thing—it shows us how to make room in our lives for disease and then to get on with the important business at hand—falling madly in love and spoiling a beloved dog rotten. It's a book that dares to be honest and sad and hilarious all at once. It will help inspire many people to respond to the unexpected in their own lives with humor and grace." - Susan Conley, author of The Foremost Good Fortune

"This delightfully wisecracking memoir will renew the spirits of cancer survivors as well as dog lovers. For health and pet collections." - Library Journal

"The title gives away the ending, but, as always in life, it's the journey that matters. Teresa and Seamus battle their diseases, giving each other love-and the grace that makes life worthwhile." - Cesar's Way

"This is a wonderful memoir allowing the reader to experience the highs and lows of both author Teresa Rhyne's and beagle Seamus' cancer battle. " - Red Room

"Her book is a great read, humorous, real and interesting, and I am pretty sure you do not have to be a cancer survivor to enjoy it. " - But Doctor...I Hate Pink

"When you read The Dog Lived and So Will I, you will make a new friend in Teresa, only you'll feel like you're one of Teresa's oldest and dearest friends as you get to know her. Reading this book is like sitting down in your jammies with one of your best friends as you catch up on what each has been up to over a bottle of wine in front of the fire. " - Fit As Fido

Library Journal
At 41, California lawyer Rhyne was twice divorced and had lost two dogs, so she was sure relationships of the romantic and pet variety were off her docket. Still, she couldn't deny her affinity for a much younger man or the pull of an abandoned (and controlling) beagle, Chris and Seamus, respectively. When Seamus was diagnosed with cancer, Rhyne developed her tough-talking "hospital personality" to deal with medical personnel and situations. Then she herself was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, and all bets were off. This delightfully wise-cracking memoir (also the title of Rhyne's blog) will renew the spirits of cancer survivors as well as dog lovers. For health and pet collections.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402271724
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
10/01/2012
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
164,884
Product dimensions:
5.36(w) x 7.84(h) x 0.78(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

BAGGAGE

I should not have asked him to pick me up at the airport. Was I that lonely and desperate already? I grabbed my carry-on from overhead luggage. Too late now. He'd be there waiting, appropriately enough for me, in baggage claim. Or not.

Now a new fear charged through me. It was embarrassing enough that I'd emailed him from an Internet café in Ireland admitting that I missed him and asking him to pick me up, but what if he didn't do it? What if no one was there to greet me? Cab fare home would not be nearly as expensive as all the therapy it would take to get over that psychic wound. I walked down the narrow aisle of the plane, moved along by the impatience of my fellow passengers, who, I imagined, all had someone there in the airport happily awaiting their arrivals, holding signs and flowers and ready to sweep them off their feet in enthusiastic embraces. No wonder they were rushing.

"I love your scarf, by the way," the flight attendant said, smiling and fresh-looking even after a twelve-hour flight.

I looked down at my long, flowing, brightly colored, hand-knitted scarf. "Oh, thanks. I actually bought this at my cousin's shop in Athboy outside Dublin." Maybe if I engaged in a long conversation with the flight attendant, I'd never have to get off the plane. Maybe she'd be able to give me a ride home when the inevitable happened.

"Was it McElhinney's?" she asked in the same Irish brogue as my cousins.

"Yes. How funny that you knew that," I said as the crowd surged forward, moving me past her.

"Lovely shop. Such beautiful things. And you look smashing." Her grin seemed sincere. "Bye-bye."

But the compliment did not comfort me. Me looking smashing was not a good sign. Long ago my friend Stacey had told me that she always could tell when my life was falling apart because I'd look so pulled together. If I was perfectly dressed and groomed and presenting well to the world, she knew I had on my armor and was suited up to, as it were, tilt at my own windmills. If I looked smashing, it was because some aspect of my life was being smashed to pieces.

I was on this flight home after I'd gone to Ireland with my brother and a cousin, ostensibly to celebrate their fortieth birthdays but mostly to escape my lonely household following my second divorce and the death of my two old dogs, all in the past six months. So, by Stacey's analysis, yeah, I should look impeccable.

My trip had been wonderful, though, and it had mostly served its purpose of getting me out of my own head and on toward a new life. And I'd have been in a much better mood if I hadn't so foolishly asked a man I'd only been dating a few months to pick me up at the airport. For god's sake, I wasn't even supposed to be dating. I'd sworn off dating. I'd sworn off men. I had my life all carefully planned out now, and relationships were a thing of the past. No future involvements. None.

As I approached the escalator, I immediately saw Chris standing at the bottom. Even from that distance his bright blue eyes were noticeable-heck, his eyelashes were even long enough to be noticed. He was tall, with a head of massively thick salt-and-pepper hair that also made him stand out. And he was wearing his light blue plaid button-down shirt. My favorite shirt. He looked handsome.

I couldn't help but smile. I had missed him. And I had so many great stories to tell him that I knew we'd laugh over...right after a hot bath together, a bottle of wine, and...well, the stories might have to wait. As would my carefully laid-out life plan, apparently. I stepped off the escalator and into his arms.

• • •

"After all those cold days traipsing around Ireland, this feels really, really good," I said, sinking farther down into the bathtub, both for the soothing wash of hot water and to keep my middle-aged body covered by bubbles. My townhome had the largest bathtub I had ever seen. The depth of the tub allowed me the modesty I still felt-the bubbles came up to my collarbone-but it was more than that. The grand tub stretched out over six feet in length and nearly four feet in width, taking up two-thirds of the bathroom. Thus, despite how tall we both were, Chris and I easily fit in the bath together facing each other. There was also plenty of space on both sides for a champagne bucket and candles.

"Feels good to me too, and I haven't been traveling. Are you tired?" Chris asked, refilling my glass with champagne.

"A little. But I slept pretty well on the plane. And it would be better for combating jet lag if I stayed awake a few more hours."

"I can help you with that," Chris said, leaning in for a kiss.

I returned the kiss. "I'm sure you can."

Chris raised his eyebrows in a playful leer. He leaned back. "Tell me about your trip."

I loved that he loved my stories. And I had certainly brought a wealth of them home from Ireland, where I'd been visiting my grandfather's family. I told Chris about one family member in particular who'd kept me laughing-my second cousin, Seamus. I knew he'd make Chris laugh, too.

On our second night in Ireland several family members gathered at a pub for dinner. Cousin Colleen, the one I'd traveled over with, had said her Irish boyfriend would be joining us as well. My brother had a few conversations with Colleen about this mysterious Irish boyfriend and was beginning to doubt he was real. He never showed up when he was supposed to. Several more relatives and friends joined us that evening, but Mysterious Irish Boyfriend was not among them. We passed two hours in the pub waiting for a table large enough to seat all fourteen of us. Or perhaps it would only be thirteen. Many phone calls and drinks later, MIB was still MIA.

When we were finally seated for dinner at 11:00 p.m., Colleen excused herself to make yet another phone call.

My brother Jay asked another cousin, Claire, "So you guys have never actually met this dude, right?"

"Never. She's wasting 'er time."

"Do you think he actually exists?"

"If he does, he's a fookin' bastard." This came from Seamus, Claire's brother, and an early-on favorite of mine if only for his pronunciation of the F word, which he, like a lot of my Irish relatives, used liberally. Seamus to me was prototypically Irish-lanky, pale, redheaded, with a fondness for drink and hysterical commentary.

When Colleen returned to the table, Seamus accosted her.

"Coosin, what're you doin'? Leave it alone. The bastard ain't coming."

"I'm worried he had an emergency at work. Or he can't find the place."

"He's a fookin' plumber. What kind of emergency can he be 'avin' that he can't bloody call? T'is the only pub in the village called Inn Moderation. He'd find it if he was tryin'."

I saw this as extremely sage advice.

Colleen saw it differently. "I just think he can't find it. He didn't grow up here and it's late and he's probably tired, don't you think? I know he'd want to be here. He said so last night. I just want to give him directions if he needs them."

Seamus flung his hands in the air, "Coosin! If a man wants to fookin' find a woman, he'll fookin' find 'er!"

I told the story, mimicking my cousin's Irish brogue as best I could. My efforts were rewarded when Chris burst out laughing. "Seamus is a genius."

"My thoughts exactly," I said.

"I'm going to remember that. ‘If a man wants to fookin' find a woman, he'll fookin' find 'er.'"

"And don't you think it works so much better in that accent? Jay and I can't stop saying fookin'. We add it to fookin' everything."

"Absolutely. It's hilarious. And what he says is true." Chris looked right at me. "I found you."

At once, I became intensely interested in the bottom of my champagne glass, looking deep inside it. I emptied the liquid to get a better view of the bottom.

This was just a fling. This was about great sex and fun times. I was not what he was looking for. How could I have been? He was twenty-nine years old. I was forty-one. He lived in west Los Angeles. I was sixty miles east in a far less glamorous locale. He was young, single, and handsome. I was...well, I was not young and I was still licking my wounds following my second divorce. My second divorce. I was not what anyone was looking for.

He held my right foot and massaged the arch gently.

When he began to trace a delicate line up my leg with his finger, I relaxed. See, it's only sex. That's what he's looking for. So much better! Not like a relationship at all. Phew. Sex I can do; it's just all that other stuff I'm not so good with.

I was good at math, though. I had easily determined the common denominator in my two divorces was me. Considering that none of the marriages surrounding me in my childhood had been happy or had survived into my adulthood, this should not have come as a surprise to me, but it had. I was good at a lot of things, but marriage, it turned out, was not one of them. So six months earlier when I'd left my second husband and moved into this rented townhome, I'd vowed to begin what I, perhaps too affectionately, had dubbed my alphabet life.

Like Steve Martin's character in The Jerk, all I needed was B, C, and D: books, coffee, and dogs. That's all I needed.

B was for Books-I lined my living room walls and one of the spare bedrooms with mismatched, heavily loaded bookcases and stacked the rest of the books in piles all over the house where no one could tell me they were messy.

C was for Coffee-by the gallons, with no one around to tell me the grounds got in the white tile grout and were messy.

And D was for Dogs-I had my two beagles, Richelieu and Roxy, and had told my law partner from whom I rented the townhome not to bother changing out the ugly green carpet since my dogs were old and might be messy. By this I meant I was old and messy and intended to remain gloriously so. (I find one of the many great things about dogs is that they don't mind being blamed for things that aren't their fault.)

Then a friend from college reminded me I was not likely to survive without adult beverages. Which, I think, is why we have college friends, isn't it?

So I added A for Alcohol-by which I meant wine. Okay, and martinis. And right, also I meant margaritas.

A, B, C, and D. I had packed my alphabet into a moving van and left married life behind.

That sound you hear is not just the moving van's screeching brakes-it's fate laughing in my face.

I had seven weeks with both dogs in my new place-enough time to settle into a pattern of walks and meals, to chart out who got which portion of the bed and the couch, and to establish our home of three. By the end of April, my thirteen-year-old beagle Richelieu had a series of seizures and eventually, sobbing and cursing but knowing it was best for him, I had to let him go.

In August, the congestive heart failure that the veterinarian had told me would come finally did, and I lost Roxy, too. I came home from work to find her dead in the middle of my living room, right in front of all of those bookcases. My friend Stacey drove me to the vet's office as I held Roxy's body and shook with sadness and tears. As she drove me back, I was curled into the passenger's seat, sobbing again.

When I returned home, all that greeted me was that hideous green carpet. I was five months into my alphabet life, and already I was missing a letter. I had wanted to be alone, but not that alone. I never wanted to be without my dogs. Dogs were the only consistent relationship in my life, and now they were gone, too.

The silence suffocated me for a few weeks. I considered getting another dog, but I'd learned the great cosmic curse that all dog lovers learn eventually-you may have the unconditional love, devotion, and near-perfect companionship of a dog, but only for twelve to fifteen years, if you are lucky. Then your heart breaks. I didn't think I could take that pain again.

And that's when I'd escaped to Ireland.

But now I was back and I was dog-less, sitting naked in a steamy bubble bath, sipping champagne with a young, handsome man. Did I have my shit together or what?

"Hey," Chris jostled my leg underwater, "you still awake?"

"Yeah," I set my champagne glass down and rallied a smile. "I can tell you the rest of the Ireland stories in the morning. We have better things to do now."

"I like that," Chris said, moving toward me and wrapping me in his arms.

I blew out the candles before rising from the water.

• • •

By the time Chris woke, I was on my third cup of coffee and ready to talk. About Ireland. I regaled him with stories of country drives and castles and singing in pubs and my cousin that snuck us into a private club in Limerick without letting us know he wasn't a member, and the green cliffs and spectacular scenery, the tiny roads and roundabouts (which I dubbed "roustabouts"), the beautiful Irish faces, and that I stood nearly a foot taller than most all of my relatives. Chris listened and laughed and asked questions.

"We got to see our great-grandparents' graves, which was cool, even if it meant we also had to attend mass."

"Yeah, I didn't think you'd get ten days in Ireland without going to mass." Chris and I had both been raised Catholic; both had gone to Catholic schools, and both were of Irish descent, although Chris was mixed with German. But being raised Catholic is its own special bond, particularly if one survives Catholic school. "Did nuns leap out and begin swatting your knuckles with rulers? Or was it just the proverbial lightning strike?"

"Neither, surprisingly. And I avoided confession, since we only had ten days."

"Is divorce legal there yet? Maybe in that country you're still married."

We were sitting up in bed, and while I at least had a nightie on, Chris was naked. "That would make me a sinner of a whole different kind."

"A sexy sinner. I like it." We both laughed, until he said, "Probably the one glitch in your plan to recover from your divorce was picking a staunchly Catholic country. Did your divorces come up while you were there? How did you explain that?"

"I didn't. I just avoided the whole topic." I tried to sound more cavalier than I had felt. In truth, I felt like I had worn a scarlet "D" the entire time I was in Ireland, especially given that I never met one divorced person. "They probably think I'm a spinster. If anyone asked about kids or spouses, Jay and I both answered by talking about his wife and kids."

"Clever. So no one ever asked about a husband? You never had to explain your lack of kids?"

"Well, cousin Seamus circled around it at the end. On our last morning there we were in Claire's kitchen saying good-bye to everyone. Seamus hugged me good-bye and whispered, ‘I still don't understand why some fella hasn't thrown 'is leg around ya and claimed ya as 'is own.'"

"Cousin Seamus strikes again! He is hilarious."

"He did make me laugh a lot."

"So did you explain that several men had tried the leg-throwing bit and it hadn't really worked out?"

And how would I explain that? I'd only recently been able to sort through it myself. With lots and lots of therapy. I chose my first husband without any knowledge of what a healthy relationship might look like. I only understood that traditional marriage (mom home, dad working several jobs, kids running amok) had not worked for anyone I knew and looked completely unenjoyable. It was not for me. So I chose someone exotic (Croatian-born; spoke three languages), intelligent (we met in law school), handsome (Willem Dafoe on steroids...and wait, we'll get to that), and infinitely charming. I still managed to be surprised that he was also a narcissistic, substance-abusing, spendthrift womanizer who thought I'd stay home and have his blond-haired, blue-eyed babies while he...well, see above.

It then made perfect sense that the next spouse I chose was an ultra-conservative, Midwestern momma's boy who was as safe as...well, as safe as the confines of his undiagnosed (and untreated) obsessive compulsive disorder required him to be. So yes, I understood I'd done my own version of Goldilocks ("this one's too hot, this one's too cold, this one's too hard, this one's too soft..."). But that didn't mean I expected most folks to understand.

Chris knew my Goldilocks story. I shared it with him before we were even dating. Back before we'd crossed the line from friends in a writers' group together to friends in a bathtub together. Back when I thought he was merely humoring a middle-aged woman through her divorce over cocktails while waiting for our writers' group meetings to start. Back before I realized we were meeting for hours before our writers' group meeting started.

"No," I said. "I'm not sure my Goldilocks story can translate to Irish Catholic. I just let it go. I'd like to leave them thinking well of me."

"I'm sure they did. And knowing you made mistakes and you own up to the mistakes would not have changed that."

He really was a nice guy. "You think?"

"Well, if it did, they're fookin' bastards."

And funny. Man, he's funny.

• • •

Monday came and I had to get out of bed for something other than food and bathroom breaks. I had to get to work. Chris left at six in the morning for the hour drive back to his reality. He'd agreed to my "only every other weekend" rule (this makes it a nonrelationship, you understand) so we wouldn't be seeing each other for another two weeks. Time to return to lawyer mode.

"I put your mail in three piles-client stuff, urgent stuff, and boring stuff," my assistant, Michelle, said. She followed me into my office.

"Can I get my coffee first? And then I think I'll just start with the boring stuff."

She lowered her voice. "They had a partnership meeting while you were gone. I don't think it went well. Nobody seems to be talking to Gerald. Or he's not talking to them. I can never tell. And the other three are in and out of each other's offices with the doors closed, a lot."

Good-bye, vacation. Good-bye, leisurely, sexy weekend. Hello, office politics and client needs. "Thanks. I can't really deal with that yet." I set down my purse, flipped on my computer, and headed for coffee.

I was able to have a semi-rational discussion with two of my law partners as to what had, once again, set off Gerald, a despicably miserable man hell-bent on being as difficult as possible over as many petty details as he could dream up to soothe his pathetic ego. This time it was over the lack of clarity in the ice cubes produced by our break room refrigerator icemaker. He wanted a newer model refrigerator and he wanted it now. My more sane partners had declined to spend three thousand dollars for pretty ice cubes.

By Thursday, I was fully absorbed into my work, Ireland having faded to a blissful memory. I practiced estate planning, which means I deal with death and taxes (and thus frequently joked that I'd always have a job). I had a client recently diagnosed with bone cancer who needed his trust updated and quick. I would be meeting with him either at the hospital next week or in my office over the weekend. There was a lot to do.

"Do you want to talk to Destiny at the pet adoption center?" my secretary announced over the speakerphone.

"How can I not answer when Destiny calls?" Oh, if only I'd known this joke would be on me.

I'd been on the board of directors for the Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center off and on for more than fifteen years, and they were aware of my recent dog losses. I had adopted Roxy from there when she was eight years old and newly diagnosed with a heart murmur. The staff sent me a sympathy card when she passed away.

"Well, I know you are back from vacation, and we waited a few days, but I wanted to let you know...we have a beagle in. I took him from the Moreno Valley shelter just before he was scheduled to be euthanized. Are you ready for another dog?"

My irrational love of beagles was well known, as Roxy had been the fourth beagle I'd adopted and I'd found homes for many others by baying their praises as the perfect dog for anyone-small and cute enough for women; short-haired, compact, and sporty enough for men; high-energy and of a tolerant, playful temperament for children. I loved beagles, and like any woman in love, I overlooked a lot of the less-than-charming characteristics of the breed.

But was I ready for another dog?

No. I wasn't. Ireland had been a welcome respite from my heartache, but I wasn't yet healed. I'd begun to think maybe I'd shrink my alphabet life even further to just A, B, and C. And wait...maybe a beagle isn't a perfect dog for everyone. Maybe I had found the limit. A young beagle is not a town house dog. A beagle is not a dog for a single woman working long hours. A beagle is not an only dog. A beagle is a pack dog. A beagle is a dog for my old life, not this new life I was vaguely forming. A beagle would not be a good idea.

But oh, how I adore beagles.

My love of beagles dates back to the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college. I had wanted to be away in a Semester-at-Sea program, but my father wanted me at a family reunion. Since Dad was paying the bills, both for my tuition and any traveling I did, I found myself in rural Georgia for summer vacation. Initially, I was sullen and sulking over the injustice as only a teenager can. But one of my uncles raised beagles for hunting, and I quickly found myself spending most of my days playing with litters of beagle puppies. Soon enough I was visiting and playing with my cousins as well. There is nothing cuter than a beagle puppy, and I quickly forgot Istanbul, Athens, and Barcelona in favor of tri-colored, round-bellied, baying balls of fur in Gray, Georgia. My uncle was willing to send a puppy home with me, but I had college to finish. And then law school. I got my first beagle puppy two weeks after finishing law school, and my beagle love affair was launched.

My heart may have hardened in many places, but the spot for dogs remained soft. And they'd rescued this beagle with me in mind. I should stop by out of courtesy. For good measure, I also assured myself that this particular dog wasn't ready for adoption yet, so it was safe to just look.

Caution, meet wind.

Destiny walked me to the kennel where the beagle was held, still in isolation for the last of the required three days. I heard the beagle howl long before I was in front of his kennel. Beagle howls are distinctive in a bloodcurdling sort of way. There is a reason the French call them be' gueules ("gaping mouths"), but to me it's a call to home. This particular howl, though, this was no ordinary beagle baying.

The dog greeted me with frantic, insistent, raspy howls. When Destiny opened the kennel door and leashed the dog, he ran to me, jumped up on my legs, stretched his muzzle up toward me, and "Aaaaaarrrooooooooo'd" away into my face. I laughed and bent down to pet him, reminded again how happy and adorable beagles are. He curled himself into me, turning so I could scratch his back. Now that he had received human contact, he quieted, if only for a moment. I stroked his soft, rounded head and noticed a few unusual things about him. First, there was his coloring-he had the usual black saddle markings of the breed, but where most beagles would be brown or beige, this dog was red. And where you'd expect to find a patch of solid white, this one was dappled white, appearing gray and mottled. His nails were black and looked to be painted that way by some goth teenager. His eyes appeared to have black guy-liner any emo-rock band member would envy. And again there was the howling. He sounded as though he'd suckled whiskey from his mother's teats and had been chain-smoking since birth.

He quivered under my hand as I petted him. He stayed close by me, pushing up against my leg, my hand, any part of me he could reach. Mostly he was pushing into my heart. I noticed another unique characteristic. His left ear flopped backward, turning inside out and staying that way. I'd flip it back down, making him a proper droopy-eared beagle, but eventually the ear would flop right back over again. He looked up at me, one long, floppy ear forward and one backward, big kohl-lined brown eyes pleading.

He was cute. He liked me. And in that moment, we both knew he was coming home with me. I just had to trust that "he's cute and he's coming home with me" worked out better with dogs than it had with men.

The dog had to wait out the mandatory three-day holding period and I had to go back to work, which should have given me enough time to consider whether this dog was a good idea for me. It should have.

"I can pick him up on Saturday, right?" I said to Destiny.

"Saturday morning."

"That will give me time to get some food and a crate for him." I petted the dog's domed head. "I'll be back, buddy. I'll come get you tomorrow."

"I knew he'd be perfect for you." Destiny leashed him and led him back into the kennel.

The baying started instantly: Aaaaaarrrooooooooo!! Aaaaaa-rrrooooooooo!!! Aaaaaarrrooooooooo!!! This is not happening! Take me with you now! Now, I say! Noooooooow!!!

I could still hear the howling as I drove away, already missing him and feeling guilty for leaving him. I didn't stop for even a moment to consider that howl coming from my townhome. Women in love can overlook many bad traits.

Each of the beagles I'd shared my life with in the past had their own color schemes. The beagle I'd adopted after law school was Raz (short for Razumov, thank you, Joseph Conrad), and she had yellow collars and leashes her whole life. Blue for Rabu (short for Rabushov-an unintentional transmutation of the otherwise literary name Rubashov, with apologies to Arthur Koestler, but really, what kind of a nickname would "Rub" have been?); red, naturally, for Richelieu (as in Cardinal) and pink for my Roxy-girl (right, I didn't name her; I adopted her when she was already eight years old). On Saturday morning, I bought the new beagle a dark green leash and collar, along with a crate and its comfy cushion with soft cotton on one side and dark-green water-slick covering on the other.

On the way to the pet adoption center, I thought about a name for this new beagle. I was thinking I'd move away from the "R" names. I'd picked the green color because this beagle was so red and I was just back from Ireland so naturally I associated red hair with "Irish." Maybe I'd give him an Irish name to go with his green theme. An Irish name might fit. I thought of the cousin who'd made me laugh so much on my trip. Seamus might be a good name for the dog. Maybe it would even bring us some Irish luck. But a name has to fit a dog. We'll see, I thought, as I parked in front of the adoption center. We'll see.

Destiny brought the noisy, jumping, ecstatically happy beagle to the "greeting room" so I could get to know him. That didn't take long. He stopped howling as soon as I petted him and turned his attention to sniffing out my purse and me, in that order. He must have found something he liked, because he jumped up next to me on the bench and planted himself against me, leaning in and looking up at me. He was mine and I was his. The decision wasn't even mine.

I put the new green collar on him, and he howled and jumped and cracked me up about a hundred different ways on our drive home, including barking every time the car came to a stop-Don't forget me! I'm back here! Right here! Don't leave me back here! I'm here!!! Right then, I knew. My red, whiskey-howling, funny little beagle was so obviously a Seamus. (When a dog wants to fookin' find a woman, he'll fookin' find 'er.)

When we arrived home, beagle Seamus followed me into the house and raced around, checking out every inch of the townhome and lingering anywhere there was a faded scent of Richelieu and Roxy. He wore himself out sniffing, howling, and jumping on and off my lap. Finally, he joined me on the couch, snuggling up against me as I petted his head and rubbed his belly. He relaxed. I began to notice how soft his coat was. And especially his long ears. That's when I noticed the inside of his right ear had a two-inch surgically straight scar running down its length. I ran my finger along the scar. Wherever he started out in life, they had cared enough to microchip him, neuter him, and stitch up whatever had happened to his ear.

Destiny had told me he'd been found by Animal Control roaming the streets of a nearby town, and no one had come to claim him at the pound. No one answered the phone when they tried the number listed in the microchip information either. When his time was up at the pound, she saw him and selected him for a second chance, bringing him and three other dogs back to the center where they would stay until homes were found for them. That was two days before she'd called me to give him that second chance.

Sitting together on my couch, I petted and scratched the dog and found several favorite spots he wanted rubbed-his belly, behind his ears, the top of his round head. He was sweet, soft. And those kohl-lined eyes of melted chocolate melted my heart. He was young-only one or two years old. I'd have plenty of time with him, I assured myself. No more pain. No more heartbreak. Not for a long, long while.

I continued to pet the dog, softly and slowly. My house wouldn't be lonely anymore. My alphabet life was back on track. And this was a sweet, sweet dog. After a few minutes, Seamus moved his left front paw over my right leg and, looking up at me, leaning far into me, he claimed me as his own.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Author Teresa J. Rhyne had plenty of reason to whine throughout her cancer months; in fact, considering what she endured, readers could be forgiven for wondering how much one woman can handle. The good news is, Rhyne bears it with a grin that's infectious. Her book is filled with have-to=laugh-or-you'd-cry moments and is refreshingly lacking in Poor-Me. That makes it readable, enjoyable, and surprisingly supportive to cancer patients, both two-legged and four-legged." - Bookworm Sez (Leader Times)

"Teresa's memoir is sad and hilarious all at once, showcasing the love a human can have for their canine best friend and the attitude that can make or break a life — or, in this case, two lives." - Anokhi Magazine

"Kudos to the writer for honestly divulging her sometimes unfettered fears, tearful thoughts and comical reactions to the big "C" word that infiltrates so many of our lives. " - Bookpleasures.com

"Teresa Rhyne takes those darkest moments of their lives, and injects into them a sense of hope, possibility, positivity, and yes, even humour! It's hard to not crack a smile with some of the descriptions within the pages, whether it's the canine antics of the lovable rogue Seamus, or the hilarious criticisms of the health system and their fondness for nausea-inducing holiday decor." - The Literary Word

Lawyer turned author Teresa Rhyne draws you immediately in through her open, honest, and vivid writings about love, cancer, and her very loved beagle Seamus...This is a true story of a survivor that will leave you wanting more.

"The Dog Lived: (And So Will I)" is a moving read of coping with cancer, strongly recommended for pet lovers who have faced their own struggles in life.

A heart-warming story of hope and love.

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