After a week of trying to get my sweet dog, Bella, back to a comfortable existence, she lost her battle. Still not sure what caused her rapid decline, I knew I had to make the decision to euthanize her. Having done this previously for three other dogs and nine cats did not make it any easier.
Bella lived and loved for fifteen years. She began her life in Florida, where the Humane Society rescued her and her litter mates. My dear cousin, Joan, then director of this facility in Vero Beach, fostered two of the puppies. Once she sent me a photograph of Bella, it was a done deal. Bella bid farewell to her brother Oliver and flew to New Jersey with Joan in a soft carrier under Joan’s seat. A true ambassador for rescue dogs, Bella behaved better than some children and won the hearts of everyone who met her.
Once in NJ, Bella was referred to as the ‘Housewarming Dog’ and the ‘Retirement Dog.’ She joined an aging and surly Ferris and a number of cats in our household. The most memorable story of Bella’s arrival was her attraction to fireflies. She jumped around catching them with remarkable agility. Unfortunately they made her ill, having a rather unpleasant bout of iridescent green diarrhea. She recovered with the help of Pepto Bismol. Ferris was excited to have a playmate and showed a renewed interested in living. They were inseparable.
Bella lived with us in NJ until 2007 when we moved to the Finger Lakes region of NY. She joined Ferris and our then five cats, Venus, Berio, Fiona, Demitasse, and Xena in the move. They all somehow adjusted to a much smaller house and new surroundings. Bella loved to run in the yard after squirrels, chipmunks, and Frisbees once our backyard fence was installed. She and Ferris were walked together in the front yard, on leash, through snow, rain, and occasional sunshine. Eventually Ferris left this planet, and Bella lived the rest of her life as the only dog.
Bella went to classes at the SPCA of Tompkins County. She learned quickly, but was hesitant to play with the larger dogs. We opted for the small dog group where she was more comfortable, but not overly willing to play. I suppose she was used to Ferris, who was much smaller than even a young Bella.
Over the years Bella and her brother, Oliver were reunited when Joan visited NY. Oliver is very well trained and accompanied Joan on many business trips requiring plane rides. We were unsure that they would remember one another since they were about four months old the last time they were together. There was almost immediate acceptance upon the usual on leash sniffing in a neutral area. Bella had no problem sharing space with Oliver.
Bella joined me on many walks to the state park close to our home. We walked more than two miles each day, both becoming more fit. When Bella started to show signs of stress associated with both her hip dysplasia and arthritis during our walks, it was necessary to end them. It felt unnatural to go to the park without her. Unfortunately, a few too many pounds crept back on me, but at some point I should be able to return to the activity with memories of my buddy beside me.
Bella literally spent all her time with me. Particularly fond of food, Bella would plant herself under my feet whenever I was in the kitchen. She was a veteran beggar, always ready for a taste from our plates. She received a low calorie snack upon successfully completing her business outside. Bella NEVER had an accident inside our house…a stark contrast to her former housemate, Ferris. She never experienced being boarded, as we took her everywhere we went. Friends and family generously allowed her in their homes, and although a bit nervous, she would eventually settle down. Car rides were not her favorite, as she sat close to the window, panting all the way. Even mild drugs would not calm her down enough to relax during journeys.
Going to her groomer was also not a welcomed activity. Shaggy Dog Grooming made her beautiful for the thirteen years we have lived in NY. Deej Erb has the patience of a saint, and always went the extra mile to accommodate her moods. A few weeks ago, Bella was the most uncooperative. She still came home looking beautiful- something I am grateful for. Her visits to the vet were also cause for nerves and stress. The last week of her life she spent many hours at Briar Patch Veterinary Hospital receiving IV fluids and medicine. She actually became accustomed to the procedure and had a few good days following her excellent care.
Sadly, once I felt all quality of her life was gone, and her ability to stand, drink, and eat was also quickly absent, I made the decision to humanely euthanize her. The process took place outdoors, in my presence, with one of her vets, a vet tech and my husband. We said a tearful goodbye. I held her head and told her how much I loved her, and thanked her for being such a wonderful companion for fifteen years.
So, though this was not how I was hoping the week would go, Bella had different plans. I will always remember her as a best friend. Always there for me, always giving unconditional love, she will remain in my heart forever. RIP sweet Bella. We shall meet again. Better to have loved and lost you, than to have never loved you at all.