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Foster fail Friday, edition #1: Beans

Beans' pretty smile
Beans' pretty smile
Jody Flanagan

Foster fail: A term of endearment within the rescue community; the foster parent can’t imagine their lives without their foster animal, and adopt the animal themselves.

Beans showing love, Beans style.
Jody Flanagan

A tiny black and tan Chihuahua was found in November of 2013 in a parking lot near a busy road. It had been quite clear he’d been dumped like trash, where anything could happen to him. Jody and her husband Jamie stepped up to foster this 5-pound creature, who had been named Beans. Jody and Jamie were supposed to be his temporary foster home for two weeks only… But they would soon learn that there was nothing temporary about Beans.

No one knows what Beans suffered in his past, and no one really wants to know, because it must have been something truly appalling. Beans is utterly and completely terrified of adults, and his defense for that is to be aggressive toward them. If an adult gets too close to him, he lashes out, usually biting. Luckily for whatever adult is brave enough to try to pet him, Beans has no teeth. It can be comical to witness all of this, until you think about why Beans is the way that he is. He surely must have been severely mistreated in his past.

Beans is unique in that he only shows aggressive behavior toward adults. He attached himself from the onset to Jody’s two young girls, who showed him that he was safe and would be loved, never hurt again. After weeks of these two little ones teaching him he was safe, he now cuddles with them and loves to be near them; he even sleeps like a baby in their arms. This connection he made with two innocent little girls touched the hearts of all those who knew the situation – especially his foster mom. Despite her frustration and sadness that he refused to trust her, she melted at the sight of him warming to her girls.

After a few weeks of working with the vet to try to get Beans to relax, it was clear he was unadoptable. Beans had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, and his aggression barely simmered when he was placed on Prozac. So what did his foster mom and dad do? Being the angels that they are, Jody and Jamie adopted Beans for their girls. They adopted this disturbed little dog, who would’ve otherwise been euthanized because of the unspeakable things he’d suffered and the effects thereof. They adopted him knowing he might not ever heal from the trauma of his past and come to trust adults. They foster failed on an unadoptable dog.

Beans is a popular dog now, with his own Facebook and Instagram (username: meaniebeans) pages that chronicle his new life from his point of view. While at first Jody wondered if he’d ever have any quality of life, it’s now obvious that Beans has settled in to his home. He has even been getting up on the couch next to Jody and Jamie and sitting comfortably next to them. He’s taken very positive steps, which is so encouraging to Jody and her family. He still has a long way to go, but the progress he’s made is outstanding.

When asked to describe why Beans’ story was so important to rescue, Jody answered, “I feel like this is the true definition of rescue. There are more aspects of rescue than on the surface. It's not just pulling dogs from shelters and placing them in homes. It's about taking a broken dog and doing everything in your power to fix him. This experience definitely gave me a different perspective on what I do and why I do it. Adopting Beans put me in a good position because I completely understood what it was like to take a risk on a dog. I could completely understand concerns that adopters had with taking on a special needs dog.” She also stated that Beans has given her a great opportunity to teach her daughters an important lesson about empathy, tolerance, and love.

It wasn’t difficult to choose Beans for this first Foster Fail Friday article. His story is one that needs to be told, and will hopefully teach everyone a lesson about acceptance and healing.