Ali's Story

In December of 1999, we decided to get a second Boston to provide companionship for Shelby. Although we scoured the newspapers and the internet, the nearest available female Bostons that we could locate were outside of Alamosa, Colorado, which is in the south-central part of the state. At the age of five months, these Bostons were a little older than we preferred, but we were still anxious to see them. After driving more than five hours and spending another 90 minutes unsuccessfully trying to find the home of the seller, we were on the verge of giving up and returning to Broomfield when we finally found the place. Our persistence paid off, because that night, out in the middle of nowhere, I met my "best buddy."

The lady selling the dogs took us to a house trailer that had been converted into a kennel. I was reminded of a scene from Lady and the Tramp. Dogs were everywhere- Poodles, Beagles, breeds that I didn't recognize- it seemed that every type of dog must be there except Bostons. After giving us what was probably her standard tour, she opened the door to a small room and six of the cutest little Boston Terriers imaginable came scampering out. Actually, only five could be described as "little," the sixth would more accurately be described as "tiny." When I noticed that the tiny Boston was repeatedly stepped on and bowled over by the other dogs, I picked her up to get her out of harms way.

While Carolyn was carefully examining each Boston, I noticed that the tiny puppy I was holding was staring at me intently. It was probably my imagination, but the expression on her little face seemed to say "please take me." I wiggled my finger in front of her and she timidly reached her paw out and touched it. At that point, I announced that I had found our dog. Carolyn still wanted to consider all of the Bostons, but I had no doubt about which one was going home with us. I knew that if we didn't take this dog, I would always wonder what happened to it. Fortunately, Carolyn eventually agreed.

All the way home, driving for hours in the dark, the tiny Boston never stopped staring at me. She didn't sleep and she didn't make a sound. I have no idea what was going through her little mind. She was leaving the only home and family that she had ever known. She had never even been in a car before. Despite all of this, she didn't seem frightened, only a little nervous. During that drive, we decided to name her Ali, after the nearby town of Alamosa.

It was after 1 am when we arrived home. Despite the late hour, we gave the dusty puppy a bath and made the pleasant discovery that she had a fair amount of brindle. Afterwards, I wrapped little Ali in a towel and she slept next to me all night. About every thirty minutes, Shelby would sneak across the bed to check out this new household addition. All of her doggy instincts demanded that she investigate. After a little scolding, Shelby would sulk back to her regular spot on the bed and pretend to go to sleep, only to repeat the process after she thought we were safely asleep.

The next morning, little Ali romped all around the house investigating everything. When she wasn't exploring, she stayed close to me, a behavior that continued as she grew older. Since that first day, I have referred to her as my "little shadow" and my "best buddy." She also seemed cautiously drawn to Shelby, who probably reminded her of her sisters. Initially, Shelby wanted nothing to do with her, but eventually they became friends. Later that day, Ali looked at me with an expression that seemed to say "I think I'll be happy here." My camera was nearby and I captured that moment on film. It is at the top left of this page.

Ali does not have the "classic Boston" features. The characteristic white markings are all there- muzzle band, forehead blaze, chest and forepaws, but her body is too small and her ears are too big. Actually, her ears aren't big, they're huge. She can hear me opening a bag of bread in the kitchen from any room in the house. Although she would never succeed as a show dog, many people think she is adorable, and we agree. Small children are drawn to Ali more than our other dogs. Her tiny size and shy demeanor combine to form a very non-intimidating dog. Full grown, Ali still only weighs about twelve pounds.

When she was about a year old, Ali began to have extreme pain in her right leg. This was so severe that she would squeal if she even thought we might touch it. The very competent staff at the Broomfield Veterinary Hospital quickly diagnosed her condition as a luxating patella, a disorder in which the kneecap is unstable and becomes temporarily dislocated. Although this was corrected with surgery, the experience was very traumatic for Ali. We had to leave her at the veterinarians office overnight. She was in pain and frightened. We visited her just before closing and she whimpered the entire time. As we were leaving, she let out a howl so pathetic that I can still hear it today. The next morning, when we picked her up, she whined and wouldn't leave our side for several hours. To this day, Ali becomes extremely nervous at the veterinarians office. The good news, however, is that her knee function is excellent. She is like a little athlete. When she runs down the stairs, she usually bounds over the bottom four and hits the ground running. She has had no other significant health issues.

As Ali has gotten older, she has maintained the gentle inquisitive disposition that first caught my attention several years ago. She has exceptional people skills, which she demonstrated the night she "introduced" herself to me by deliberately touching my finger with her tiny paw. She is still a clever communicator. Through her little whimpers, barks and squeals, Ali has always been able to let us know when she needs to go outside, or the water bowl is empty, or Shelby is being mean to her. She also seems to intuitively understand us better than the other Bostons. Scolding her is a guilt-ridden process because of the devastated expression on her face. She tries so hard to please, that when she does something wrong it can only be our fault for not teaching her more carefully. Ali also has an innate ability to interpret our behavior. She is always the first to sense that we are going "bye bye," regardless of how discreetly we make our preparations.

Ali is exquisitely well mannered. Whereas the other Bostons simply jump up in our laps or faces, or aggressively try to snatch a piece of food out of our hand or off our plate, Ali's behavior and demeanor almost seem to say "would you mind if I climbed up in your lap" or "could I please have a bite." The only thing she enjoys more than lying on the warm summer grass is lying under a warm winter blanket. She still follows me around the house and I still call her "my little shadow." When I return home in the evening, I am mobbed by dogs. Ali can't jump as high or paw as vigorously as the others, but she never fails to squeal the loudest and with the most enthusiasm. At other times, she will stand up on her hind legs and stretch her front paws as high as she can reach. This is her signal that she wants me to pick her up. A dog like that is worth a hundred trips to Alamosa.