Alfred Bean arrived on our doorstep four Christmases ago. It was Christmas Eve to be exact, and as we all know, Santa’s elves always deliver live animal gifts on Christmas Eve to protect them from the onslaught of global deliveries on the big day. So, as custom and tradition dictated, at 2pm in the afternoon, the bell rang, and on our doorstep, sat a little box with a big red bow, tagged with a lovely delivery note from Santa. A whimper and a yap revealed its squirmy contents. Greeted with giggles and squeals, my daughter opened the box to find a perfectly round ball of black and white puppy fluff. Licking her face and eating her hair, the bond between girl and her dog was sealed forever.

After peeing on my bed later that afternoon, the bond between puppy and mom was allAlfred_Bean_Toussaint  but forever broken. He was banned from all beds, sofas and chairs. After pooping on the living room carpet, he was then jailed in the kitchen for… quite a while. There began his lengthy crate training.

I did not want a dog. I was a single mother who was fighting to surface from a serious economic slide which included a major downsizing move. It was a new home, a new school, a new life for us. My beloved standard poodle of 17 years, Kaia, died two years previously and I knew what getting a new puppy actually entailed. Basically, I was exhausted in every conceivable way, and the last thing I needed was the recreational exercise of house breaking, training and caring for a new puppy!!!!!!!

When my daughter was born I created a mantra for myself. It was actually more of a vow. It said, no matter what happens, “keep the bubble around the baby.” In the last 11 years, I’ve tried to do that in many different ways. I have failed as much as I have succeeded. So when my animal-loving child begged me for two years to get her another dog, my gut told me this would probably be the moment. So, I sucked it up, and sanctioned her request to Santa. I mailed that darn letter.

Four years later, it was one of my very best decisions. Alfred Bean is a huge, resilient, love bubble surrounding my daughter. She adores that dog. They are truly best friends. I travel quite a bit for my work, and for the most part, I take my daughter with me. We are a team. But it also turns out, that we are now a pack…Alfred’s pack. He has gone from being “my daughter’s” dog, to being our dog. And equally, we are now his humans. Wherever we go, Alfred now goes. My daughter and I have known a lot of change in the last few years, some challenging, some wonderful. I have had to walk that dog at midnight in NYC blizzards when we lived there last year. I have bootied him, sweatered him, and pulled all kinds of nasty NYC garbage out of his jaws. Turns out, Alfred’s got more than a touch of ghetto in him! He was VERY at home walking those mean streets! I have kicked myself, cursed myself, questioned my own sanity, but the bottom line is, to my daughter, wherever her Mom is, and Alfred is, that’s home. I love that darn dog. He is the Christmas gift that has kept on giving. He helps me keep the bubble around my baby.

Thank you Alfred.

Samara chimes in with…“ I am so happy that my Mom chose to write about my “sweet boy”. Alfred is the best dog ever. And my Mom was getting really upset that I kept asking every week, twice a week, “Can we get a puppy today? Can we get a puppy today? Can we get a puppy today?” So I finally just asked Santa. And everything turned out great.”

That’s as good as it gets…..!