Goodbye to Bella

No matter how many pets pass through your life, losing one is always a horrible time.

Bella was a golden Labrador who came into our lives by accident 14 years ago. My daughter had just got married and after the frenzy of planning the wedding I had time on my hands. Always a dangerous situation. We had Solomon, a gorgeous black lab, but he was really my husband’s dog first and foremost, and I was very much second best in Sol’s eyes.

One evening when I was home alone I began searching dog rescue centres and up popped Bella. At just 7 months old she was completely untrained in every way but as soon as she came to visit I was smitten. And so, our journey began….

It was obvious that training and socialisation was the priority. This was an almost fully grown lab whose pads were still as pink as a baby puppy due to not being walked. A dog trainer friend called round and declared her almost beyond help as she raced around my sitting room on and off the furniture like a wild animal. Not to be deterred I enrolled in regular classes and had a modicum of success, but now I can admit, she had me in tears many a time as she was so strong willed, and I felt I just couldn’t get through to her. Bella’s energy was endless, from the moment she woke up, and throughout the day, she raced around, terrorized poor Solomon and gradually created havoc. No matter how long I ran her on the forest close to our home or tried to walk her on the lead (a very stressful exercise as she pulled constantly), nothing seemed to tire her out. I tried changing her food, that didn’t help. I tried less walks, as there is a theory that the more you exercise the more the dog expects, made no difference.

Nothing worked.

When we went away we left our neighbours daughter, Lizzie, to house sit and she was mortified when Bella chewed a hole in our sofa one night. Lizzie’s granny was a seamstress so was brought in to do her best to patch up the sofa and did a very good job.

Then there was the time I left Bella with a good friend who happened to be a Jehovah Witness, Bella got hold of her precious bible and chewed it to bits. How embarrassing.

Walks on the forest often led to impromptu bathing in the extremely muddy ponds and puddles and it seemed Bella was intent on being a black, not golden, Labrador.

On a daily basis Bella would chase Solomon around our house and one day they both managed to fall through the French windows onto the patio. Thankfully no injuries were sustained by either dog, but it was an expensive accident.

Eventually, at about 3 years old we started to turn a corner and Bella slowly seemed to understand what was expected of her. We never quite conquered acceptable lead walking but she did settle down in the home. Despite her naughtiness, Bella had the nicest temperament of all the dogs we have owned. She was gentle with children, never had any issues with other dogs, in fact she skirted around them on walks, and she gradually matured into a  very affectionate pet. Bella loved to be active and we enjoyed some agility classes together and joined in at local country fairs. 

 

Our regular dog minders fell in love with her, the grandchildren grew up with her and adored her, and all the Guide Dog pups that passed through our doors would cuddle up to her.

 

 

When we moved to a house that needed total renovations Bella adjusted with ease and made a point of keeping an eye on the workmen, often lying down exactly where they happened to be working.          

 

Old age crept up, as it always does, and brought with it painful arthritis and neck trouble. Bella took more drugs than I did and that’s saying something. She had some scary episodes when we thought we would lose her, but she bounced back ,and the drugs gave her a relatively pain free old age. Gradually she slowed down, although right until the end she was happy to plod down to look at the sea each morning. She still enjoyed a bit of play with Sable our young lab and allowed Sable to squeeze into her bed with her. Until last Sunday when as soon as we got up and saw her we knew she had decided her time had come. She refused to eat or drink and wouldn’t get out of her bed. Sable seemed to know she was feeling rotten as she respectively left her alone. Bella was no trouble, she slept all day, but we knew this was the end.

The next day we took her to the vet, she was so tired and looked exhausted, she was ready to go. I held her to the end, my lovely Bella.

Bella coping with the first Guide Dog pup, Joni.

 

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