The rescue dog who actually rescued me….

January 12, 2008

Sleeping Beauty, uh, BellaBaby Bella at 15

On Sept. 26, 2003, I made the crazy decision to actually adopt not 1 but 2 dogs who happened to be 11 years old at the time – Bella and Bunky. I got both of them because I was told that Bella, who had bad arthritis, would probably only live for another 6-9 months. Knowing that if I didn’t take her she would be put down, I decided to give her what good life I could during the short time she had left on this earth.

Bella and Bunky lived with a loving woman in a bad relationship. As I understand it, after she got these 2 Lhasa Apses, she decided to breed and show Pekinese. She said that at any one time, she had as many as 12 dogs and 6 cats living with her.

Bella was the ringleader for the entire bunch. And she had the kind of personality that reminded me of Lucy from the Peanuts comics (I would always say to her and Bunky: “Now, would Benji do that?”). While I have no doubt that this woman loved all of her animals very much, she got into a bad relationship that changed her life completely.

I won’t go into all of the details as I am sure that I don’t remember, or even know, them all completely, but in a nutshell, she hooked up with a very abusive guy. He apparently took his frustrations out on the animals and especially Bella because she desired (make that: “demanded”) so much attention. Because a baby on the way, her boyfriend made her get rid of all of the animals. Bella, Bunky and Bubba were the last I know of to go. (Bubba was adopted by my friend, Wendy. And luckily, the woman moved with her baby girl to the East Coast — getting as far away from Mr. Abuser as she could!!! Good for her!! I wish her and her baby all the happiness that they deserve.)

I was in a relationship that was going nowhere, but I had been slow to realize it. Bringing Bella and Bunky in to my life actually made it easier to see that as time went on. My boyfriend at the time didn’t like dogs and really resisted me getting them. I knew the relationship hadn’t been right since January, 2003, but I didn’t have the guts to break it off. Somehow the closer I got to the dogs, the fact that I was in a bad relations came to light more and more. I finally figured out that the path we were on wasn’t going anywhere where I actually wanted to be. So I broke it off with him on our 4th anniversary in June, 2004. (I told you I was slow to realize!)

I met my husband, Mark, November 12, 2005. And while Bella never really warmed up to him (probably because of the abuse from that other man), Mark worked hard at relating to Bella. Unfortunately, as she learned to accept him, she got very sick.

In August, 2007, Bella weighed 17 lbs. On December 22, I took her to the vet because she hadn’t eaten for 2 1/2 day (which was HIGHLY unusual since she would try to bully Bunky off his food unless I refereed), she weighed 13.6. Even though she kept dwindling away, her little spirit was still as strong as it had always been. I told the vet that if she could live on sheer will alone, she would be jumping off the couch right now. But on January 7, Mark and I took her in (she now weighed 10.2 lbs.) and we said our goodbyes. I told her to go find Bubba so she could boss him around again. It wasn’t a peaceful end, but she is at peace now.

Goodbye, Bella-baby, my Honey-B. Thank you for rescuing me!! I will see you in Heaven some day.

As Mark says, “It has been a great 6 months.”


11 Responses to “The rescue dog who actually rescued me….”

  1. My sympathy goes out to you. I’m crying as I write this. What a wonderful way to celebrate how much Bella meant to you with this post.


  2. Wendy Crothers Coltharp said

    You did a wonderful thing by rescuing those dogs (and letting me know about Bubba so I could rescue him). Mark is right in that you had a really good six months with her! Your willingness to take them in and give them a good life speaks volumes about you as a person. You have a good heart, Kelly. And you can take comfort in the fact that Bubba was waiting for Bella at the Rainbow Bridge, and she’s bossing him around right now in Doggie Heaven. I love you!

  3. Rebecca said

    Kelly- I am so glad you wrote this post. Do not rush yourself through the natural grief that you are feeling, and do not dismiss it. Bella is a lucky girl in that she got to see you into your happy marriage and the very best years of your life. Our animals do rescue us and often when we are single gals they take care of us on a very deep emotional level. It was time for Bella to finally let go, and I know it was easier for her to let go knowing that you have a very kind, loving, strong alpha male around taking care of you. Her job is done, and now she is resting, happy in the knowledge that you are safe and warm. My heart goes out to both you and Mark at this difficult time.

  4. Robin said

    Wow, Kelly… I’m so sorry to hear of your loss of Bella. I know that she was like a family member to you. I just wanted to let you know that I understand what you are going through and that you are in our thoughts. I know how bad it hurt when I had to say goodbye to Prince who was my best friend for 16 years. I am so grateful to have had Prince in my life and I know that I am a better person for having had him touch my life. You helped give her an extra 3 1/2 years that she might not have had otherwise. So, please celebrate her life every day and remember the wonderful 4+ years you had with her and the unconditional love she gave you. What you have gained from her will last a lifetime. Best wishes…


  5. I thought I would go ahead and put in some of the other messages that came straight through my email about Bella and about my blog about Bella:

    “hey Kel,

    i just read Wendy’s blog and she said that you “lost Bella”? did she die after we got back from houston? i’m so sorry sweetie. i hope you’re ok. let me know if there is anything i can do to help. i love you sweetie!


    From Suzanne:
    “Hi Kelly,

    Wow — how beautiful. What a lucky little dog to have had you.


    From Lisa B:
    “Dearest Kelly – that was a beautiful bit, and of course Trevor and I send you and Mark, and bunky, our love and prayers. Have you ever read the rainbow bridge? I am not on-line at home or work (we have had a VERY tough couple of years and are soon to be homeless ourselves, but still have Hershey and Moo – yes, he returned!!!) Anyway, maybe you can google Rainbow Bridge, and I know it will give you so much comfort. I have to go because I am on someone else’s computer. Love, L”

  6. I can’t tell you how much your comments have meant to me. I have truly been blessed by having her in my life.

  7. Another comment that I wanted documented here along with all the others. This one from Cathy H. and her dog Maggie who were apart of the dogwalkers in my old neighborhood:

    “What a precious testimony to the power of love and friendship that comes from animal to human and human to animal! Seeing you carefully walk the babies around our neighborhood was always reassuring that all was still right with the world….good men and women doing good things out of pure love.

    I miss seeing y’all but I know you loved and cherished Miss Sassy….Maggie misses seeing her in the balcony window telling us to ‘get out of the neighborhood!’ You are a special person.”

    As I will tell Cathy, I am sure that Bella and/or Bunky was just saying “Hi!” when they would bark out on the balcony. I am sure you remember how much Bunky loved to flirt with Miss Maggie!!

  8. Another from Kathi:
    “this is such a great tribute to bella. my heart goes out to you on your lose of her. she only had 6 to 9 mths to live when you got her but she realized that she had a good thing with you and needed to help you with you life so she stayed. you know that. she stayed to heal you and help you find your true calling and inspiration. mark being part of that. she is and always will be in your heart. if you ever feel a warm feeling about her then she is probably there to let you know it is ok and she is alright.
    you are such a big hearted gal and she got a huge part of that.
    much love

  9. One last email came in about Bella. This one from the lady I got them from:
    “Kelly, thank you for giving Bella the peace she so richly deserved at her end. You and Wendy are such special people. What a wonderful gift you gave to me and the dogs. S”

  10. Todd said

    Oh Kelly. I’m so sorry for your loss. When we had to put Mouse (our sweet kitty) to sleep, it just about broke my heart. I understand the pain you feel. But you gave Bella a great home and life, and in the end, she saved you as much as you saved her.

  11. Stephanie said

    HI Kelly- I just came across your blog searching about rescue dogs- I have two myself, so I can imagine how hard this time is for you-. I am trying to raise money for an animal rescue on Bainbridge Island, WA as part of Parade Magazine’s America’s Challenge. I was wondering if you would be willing to post this on your blog to get the word out- as a dedication to Bella.

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