Remembering Bella

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.

Bella Lure Coursing. Triple Crown, Hutto, 01-11-04 004

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.

fawn greyhound

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

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A Tribute to My Precious Foster Hannah

TRIBUTE TO HANNAH

Hannah the greyhound saluki mixHannah came to me as a foster dog. Her back story is mostly unknown as she was found in a ditch with a litter of puppies. Her early years were obviously unpleasant, and maybe even cruel.

She came to me from her present owner who was in a desperate situation and needed a place for Hannah to stay. And stay with me she did, for the last two years.

Hannah was an incredibly sweet dog with the gentlest of souls. She was part  Headshot of Hannah the greyhound saluki mixGreyhound, part Saluki. The Saluki heritage gave her a very reserved demeanor and one that was fairly expressionless. What I mean by that is the expression on her face NEVER changed! She held the same expression always –and some folks thought she looked a little melancholy. I thought so at first too, until I got to know Hannah. Her expressions came through her body, not her face. I knew she was excited not by the look on her face but by the thump of her tail against the couch cushion when I came in the room. I knew she was having fun, not by her facial expression but by the way she moved, the way she jumped from bed to bed, leap-frogging and bed-hopping. Her ears would stand straight out and she’d turn and look up at me from her landing position, as she considered pouncing again. I knew she was content when she would lay in the sun, rolling in the grass, from side to side, over and back, and finally come to rest on her back, her legs stretched out and her front paws poised like a praying mantis.

Everyone who met Hannah instantly feel in love with her. She was just so sweet, so calm and so mellow. Hannah liked mellow. When the other dogs started to get boisterous or rowdy in the living room, she would just pick up and retreat back to the bedroom and hang out there until things quieted down.

When Hannah first came to me she was obviously feeling displaced and probably a bit confused, having left the stable home that she’d known for several years. She didn’t want to eat the first few meals. That’s quite normal when a change occurs in a dog’s environment. But she needed to eat! So I would bring her bowl over and hand-feed her. Goopy gobs of kibble mixed with mushy canned food. It was a messy job but at least she ate everything. And this went on for awhile, day after day of hand-feeding, when I finally realized, she’s playing me! She’s just a diva and wanted to be hand-fed all the time. Silly girl.

hannah the blue greyhound saluki mix

When she started eating on her own, she liked to eat in private. She didn’t like any distractions or any movements around while she was eating so she took her meals in my bedroom, usually on top of my bed. She was such a princess!

But then she stopped eating. Wouldn’t eat anything. At all. I took her to my vet and she was diagnosed as heading into kidney failure. There’s no recovery from kidney failure so she was on borrowed time. I was told it could be a few weeks or a few months. That was two weeks ago.

After her 4-day stay in the hospital getting pumped with IV fluids she came back home and was doing fabulous! I was so happy. She was back to her old self. Trotting in the yard, rolling in the grass, bed-jumping. And she would get especially excited at treat time. But she was still being very finicky with the food. I had to get really creative with meal planning just so she would get something into her belly. And she went back to the Diva mode and I would hand-feed her meatballs, chicken nuggets, ham, bread, rigatoni noodles with sauce and whatever else she would eat to keep her strength up. I ended up throwing a lot of stuff out. Surely she’ll eat tuna-fish, right? What dog doesn’t like tuna fish? Hannah doesn’t. She ate oatmeal one day and I thought, Great! Oatmeal is good for her. So I made a big pot of it. She never ate oatmeal after that first time. One day she’d eat something and the next day she decided she didn’t like it. I kinda think she went back to playing me, but I was happy to oblige.

She had lost a lot of weight and was continuing to lose weight, but again, she seemed like she had really turned a corner. Until Tuesday. Monday she didn’t eat anything at all. And believe me, I tried EVERYTHING! She would take food in her mouth but spit it right back out.  Tuesday, same thing. Wouldn’t eat at all. She was getting weaker. Then she suddenly couldn’t sit still, like she couldn’t get comfortable. She finally settled down, as we all did for the night.

On Wednesday morning when I got up she was unresponsive. Breathing, but unresponsive. I rushed her to the vet and the clinic staff whisked her back to a room. The vet came out a short while later and said that her blood pressure was so low they couldn’t even get a reading. They had her on oxygen and did a blood draw, but her blood was sludgy and coagulating. The vet wanted to see what the blood work looked like because she thought it might not be the kidneys. When the results came back it wasn’t good. She came out with the paperwork, a paper with a lot of red ink, indicating Hannah’s levels that were abnormal — so many of her levels were abnormal and not just a little abnormal but way out of normal range. At this point it was obvious that something else was going on inside Hannah and there was just no coming back from it.

It was time. So I had to say goodbye and release sweet Hannah to be with all my other babies up at the Rainbow Bridge. It was heartbreaking to see her in the condition she was, especially when just the day before she was bouncing around.

Hannah was a very special girl who left paw prints on the hearts of all who met her. I’m very grateful to have had these last two years with her.

                              Godspeed Hannah!                                                        

I know you’re up there rolling in green meadows and basking in the warm sunlight. Until we meet again, feel my love and know that we miss your sweet spirit.   Hannah walking

UPDATE 1/24/14:  I had just come into the house from doing poop-duty outside and as I was about to slip back into my house shoes I noticed something white on the inside of my left shoe. When I picked it up, there lie a little white feather. I have to think that was Hannah stopping by to let me know she got her angel wings!

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