Saving Bella


Getting out of my car I almost can’t believe my eyes. Of course I had gotten a quick glimpse of her precious bellamug staring out of the passenger side of Nan’s van at the grocery store a couple weeks back, but I wasn’t able to visit with her then. Bella jumps up and starts kissing me immediately. It has always been her thing. Bella can give you a full doggie style tongue bath in about 6.2 seconds. Her little boxer nub is wagging furiously. Her coat is soft and full. Her adopted mom, Nan, reports that she weighs 38.6 pounds now. To say that my heart soared when I heard that would be an understatement of epic proportions.

Bella is a white female Boxer mix that came to the shelter so terribly malnourished that we truly feared that she would not survive the week. She weighed a mere 25 pounds and was unable to keep food down. Her skin was stretched over her bones with no muscle tone whatsoever. Her nails had grown into her paws and her teeth had been worn down into nubs from trying to free herself from her crate. Dr. Ray of South Street Vet put Bella on a regular regimen of B-12 shots, prednisone, the antibiotic Tylan and a diet of a mix of wet and dry Hill’s Prescription ID food. After a long recovery period, Bella was finally strong enough to go to her forever home. And that is where Nan and her son Richard came in.

After losing their beloved fifteen year old dog to cancer, Nan was told by a friend about Bella’s plight. After only one meeting, they were in love. They didn’t mind the bi-weekly (now bi-monthly) trips to the vet for Bella’s shots. They understood that her separation anxiety was one of the worst cases we had seen. They accepted that she would have to eat special food for life. They were the angels that Bella needed. And they had come.

Today, Nan bakes Bella treats in the oven from her kibble and wet food since her diet is so limited. Bella is sensitive to protein and is extremely limited in what she can actually eat. She has tried to “protest” her kibble in the past by spitting it out and eating only her wet food. Nan, being one step ahead of our dear little Miss Bella, has started running her kibble through a food processor, and then mixing it with the canned food. I cannot imagine a more perfect home for our little princess.

Bella lays her head down at night with Nan in her bed. She curls up next to her under the blankets. For a smaller dog, she ends up taking up quite a bit of room and just loves to sleep on Nan’s side of the bed. Quite often, she will maneuver her way onto Nan’s side; whether Nan is on it or not. Thankfully though, she is on the smaller side, as she is still under the false impression that she is a lap dog. Both Nan and Richard agree that Bella is a bit of a home body, preferring her own yard to extended jaunts through the neighborhood. She loves to play in the side yard and has even claimed Nan’s zero-gravity chair as her own. Bella is known to sun bathe on the patio while Nan gardens or tends to yard work. And of course Bella goes everywhere with Nan, unless the weather is inappropriate for her Highness to wait in the car during errands.

Nan considers Bella somewhat headstrong, stubborn and almost toddler-like. She is amused by Bella’s quizzical head tilts that are often her responses to Nan’s directives. She swears Bella is asking her “Why come?” or some other queer little toddler-ism. Lovingly, they often refer to her as “the Empress,” as Bella not only knows what she wants; she often knows exactly how to get it. While we are talking, Bella sits regally on Richard’s lap, surveying the room. I can see where the nickname comes from. Both Nan and Richard were pleasantly surprised that although Bella’s willful personality has been apparent from day one, she has never once been aggressive to anyone despite all that she had been through. While Nan does insist that she follow the rules of the house, it appears that she still has wrapped them both around her little paws, and that they love her unconditionally. It is a balance. She is spoiled, but with rules.

We head out into the yard and Bella wants to play. Richard tosses her a tennis ball. Bella ignores it. I have now witnessed “the Empress” in action. She will play, but she will play what she wants to play. She is running, and wagging her little tail so vigorously that her whole back end is wagging with it. I suppose this might be where the expression about “wagging the dog” could have originated. Both Nan and Richard are beaming like proud parents as they watch her antics in the yard. Their love for this little dog is so apparent. As I prepare to leave, I snuggle Bella one more time and scratch behind her ears. I couldn’t be happier. Bella has her forever home and it is perfect.

Krista Wroldson Miller

Sonsini Animal Shelter



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