We retired about five years ago. The year before our departure from work we took some savings and put a down payment on a small but perfectly located house in Central NY. We weren’t sure if it would become a vacation home, a rental or our permanent residence. Our NJ home was not ready to list; too bad about that since waiting a number of years caused us to sell the house for a LOT less than it was worth. We just weren’t in sync with the market trends and were happy to sell it and resume the comfort of one mortgage payment. That little house in NY is now our permanent residence.
Anyway, when news that we had purchased our second home got out, my wonderful cousin Joan decided that we were leaning towards becoming cat people. Her lifetime work with animal organizations (both the Humane Society and the ASPCA) makes her the family expert on pets. I always listen to what she has to say on the subject. She had become aware of a litter of puppies, an irresistibly adorable blond group I might add, that was in need of adoption. She emailed me photos of these Benji like pups and added that if I was interested she would make one available to me. Ferris was getting old (ah, to think that was almost six years ago and he is still going strong) and I thought a replacement dog might be a good idea to have in waiting. I had never raised a puppy before. It was the closest thing to having another infant that I will ever experience. Joan flew from Florida to NJ with our new addition in a soft red pet carrier that sat under her seat. It is safe to say that the little dog was better behaved than many of the children on the plane.
We named our ‘house warming gift’ from Joan, Bella. Thinking at the time it was the perfect name for a beautiful, curly haired female pup. Who would have thought it would become the number one name for dogs and cats. I think I recently read that somewhere. Bella is an enthusiastic dog. She does nothing half heartedly. As a pup, within the first few days at our home, and luckily while Joan the animal expert was still visiting, Bella decided that it was fun to catch and swallow fireflies. I never suspected that she ingested as many as she did and at the time thought it was funny. A little extra protein couldn’t hurt, right? Wrong. Bella developed glowing green diarrhea and didn’t seem to handle it well. Calls to my vet, a poison control help center and Joan’s vet later confirmed that the bugs would probably irritate Bella’s digestive system, but would not kill her. She went on a diet of diluted pink Pepto Bismol and rice if I remember correctly. Bella survived and I have been careful every summer night when her favorite bugs are lighting up the yard.
I have always had dogs. Four dogs as a child in my formative years help to cement my love of canines. Joan had nothing to worry about in that department. Yes, I have owned many more cats, but they don’t usually last as long as my dogs. Bella is my fourth dog as an adult. She followed Too-Sweet, a poodle/sheepdog mix who was probably the perfect dog. Tooey guarded the crib when we brought our babies home from the hospital. Shortcake was next. She also came from Joan (and Florida) but Shortcake flew to Philadelphia by herself. She was a smaller, look-alike version of Too-Sweet and was also a wonderful dog. Shortie was less patient than Too-Sweet, but they made a great pair of dogs. Neither of them shed and they were extremely well behaved. I adopted them both as young adult dogs. Ferris came next. Ferris is the antithesis of the perfect dog. He, as I have noted previously, is the difficult dog. Like many short men (and yes, I know this is a generalization and probably wouldn’t stand up to scientific testing) I believe Ferris and his short legs are always trying to seem bigger and fiercer than he really is. He is overcompensating for his lack of stature, much like Napoleon. But this entry is not about Ferris. Bella grew up with Uncle Ferris and I believe she gave him new purpose and a longer life. This could be the only negative thing she has really ever done. Don’t judge until you have lived with Ferris for a while.
Bella’s biggest fault is her unrelenting enthusiasm. She welcomes most with unending joy. She does nothing in a small way. Now almost six, I will admit she has calmed down a bit. She takes good care of her toys and still has the toys that Joan gave to her when she came to our family. Bella loves cats, which worked out well, since we have had many during her six years with us. Joan also adopted Bella’s brother and later a half sister. They all look alike, or at least very similar. Bella even has some behaviors that resemble those of her brother. Neither of them like children. Bella is actually afraid of children. Of the two siblings, Bella is probably more of a leader. Since I have never met Oliver, I will have to take Joan’s word for it. Olivia is somewhat possessive of Joan’s bed. Bella thinks my bed is her bed and she is allowing me to be there . Someday I hope Joan and her dogs visit us and the three can have a reunion.
When Bella is lavishing her appreciation, love and enthusiasm on us, we have been known to say, “Too much Bella!” We don’t really mean it. She is a great dog and I hope she enjoys the longevity of life that all my other dogs have had the luck to experience. There is never too much Bella.