Bella was my second greyhound. She came to live with me and Maggie in 1999, about six months after I got Mag. Bella’s story is heartbreaking, from her unfortunate beginnings and then her tragic end. I first met Bella when she came into the foster program with the greyhound adoption group. When I met her she was a mess! She had been out in the wild so long, having escaped from an illegal racing ring, that she had developed a horrific case of mange. She literally had no fur! Her entire body was furless. Only her face had some sketchy patches of fur. No one even knew what color she was going to be when her fur came back in. Yet when I looked at her face, I saw an incredible beauty. That’s how she got her name, btw. She was so beautiful and the lovely French word belle suited her so.
The adoption was quickly finalized and she came to live with us. Boy, was that ever a long settling-in process. Bella was a very frightened dog. So frightened that she was reluctant to even eat! I had to gently pull her to her food and let her know that it was okay to indulge in that big bowl of kibble in front of her. It was obvious that she had suffered abuse at the hands of those who had once held her captive. When I’d reach down to pet her, she’d cower. Every time I’d move, she’d shrink down, head bowed, tail tucked. I knew instantly that she had probably been hit or kicked…or both.
I would lie on the floor next to her, petting and stroking her gorgeous golden fur. I would feel her heart beating nearly out of her chest she was so scared, eyes wide with panicked uncertainty, always on the ready to flee. I continued to work with her every day and let her know that she was safe with us and nothing bad was ever going to happen to her again. It took a long time – nine months in fact – before that angel girl would even allow me to stroke her face without flinching. She always did continue to keep her head down when approaching people. She’d often go off to a quiet place in the house, away from the activity. And so came to be her nickname, compliments of my dad: “Lonesome Dove.”
Over the years, she had nothing less than an amazing transformation. Bella blossomed into one of the most trusting and sweet dogs.
Our time together was cut short one fateful day when I took her to get a dental cleaning. It was a routine procedure but Bella went into cardiac arrest while on the table, just after having a few teeth pulled and before getting her teeth cleaned. So shocking it was. I dropped her off that morning and fully expected to be picking her up in the afternoon. When the vet called just a short while later I knew it couldn’t be good. I answered the phone and got the news that my girl was gone. That was eight years ago today.
My poor sweet Bella, how many times I wonder what you thought when you woke up and you were no longer here. How I hate the fact that I wasn’t there with you. How I regret choosing that vet clinic to do your dental. I’m so very sorry, my girl. I will always remember how you were that morning: I can still see you running in the dog run as I’m calling you to come in so we could load up and get you over to the vet. You had a smile on your face and you seemed so happy…
I really feel that I was robbed of you. Robbed of years that we could’ve had together. I never believed that it was your time, but apparently it was. Who am I to make that call?
We worked so hard together to get you to trust people again, to not be fearful and to truly understand love, since you had never experienced love until you came to live with me and Maggie. And oh, how you blossomed here! My girl, you blossomed into the most trusting and loving dog. I’m so glad to have at least given you that.
This is such a sad day every year. I miss you every day of every year. I know you’re up there with the rest of the gang and you are all together now. I love when you come to visit me: You make your presence known frequently in my dreams, and on those days I wake up with a smile.
Missing you today Bella, and always. My sweet Lonesome Dove.
June 19, 1996 – March 22, 2006