Welcome to Bella's Rainbow Bridge Memorial Residency
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Memories of Bella
You were such a tiny sickly puppy when i found you. Well, actually Mike found you and then called me to come get you. The year before (2009) he had found a black cat we named Midnight, and i already had Midnight at home. So when he called, i told him i hoped he hadn't found something alive. I already had two dogs. Two BIG dogs. Dogs that were 90 pounds each. I didn't want another dog.

So i went and met Mike. It was on Canton and Vernier. You were left back in the parking lot by the trash dumpsters. You were too sickly for them to sell. So they threw you out. But Mike found you. You know that for all the years I had you, when we drove past that corner, i would call it Bella's corner and tell you how that was where we found you. It was June 9,2010. I didn't know then that you were going to change my life forever.

You were 14 pounds and covered in mange. You smelled awful. It was a Wednesday. On Thursday I took you to the vet and you weighed 14 pounds. The vet pronounced that you were a "pit bull". I had only heard bad things about the breed and was worried. I asked the vet if i needed to worry--would you hurt my cats? He laughed at me and told me that pit bulls were some of the sweetest dogs ever. And he sure was right.

He gave me some medicines for you and we went home. I don't remember all the details but i do remember when i took you back 4 days later, on Monday, you were 21 pounds. So you had been pretty much starving and dehydrated when Mike picked you up. The vet said then that he wasn't sure you were going to survive the weekend, but he didn't tell me that until we went back.

So that began our long battle to overcome the mange and get you healthy. We battled for close to 2 years to get fur on you. You looked so scraggly and strange. Some people were afraid of you with your bald patches and weird look. We did pills and bathed you and did so many different treatments. Some of them seemed like they worked and you would start to grow fur and we would be hopeful. But then eventually the mange would come back. After about a year, the vet told me that he thought i was going to have to euthanize you. He said your immune system was just too weak to overcome the mange and there wasn't anything else we could try.

I wasn't willing to let you go. I decided we would figure it out. Somehow i found a lady (on Facebook) with two dogs who had battled a similar situation. She helped me figure out the ivermectin treatments. I had the choice to either inject it in the loose skin at you neck or put it down your throat. I think i did two or three days of the injections and decided there was no way i could do that to you for 6 months or more.

So we tried the oral way. I bought these fancy, expensive little treats caked Milo's meat balls. They were little chicken meat balls. I would give you one to get the saliva going in your mouth. Then i would shoot the medicine down your throat as far as i could and then chase it with two more meat balls to carry the meds down into your system and also to get rid of the horrible taste. You were so sweet and cooperative and just let me do it. And we grew hair!! It was amazing how well it worked.

We went back to the vet 6 months later and he couldn't believe it was the same dog. I had to buy the invermectin on Amazon. It wasn't approved by the FDA for the kind of use we did. It was sold for farmers to inject their cattle. But we found it with the help of Jennifer who lived near Philadelphia and had used it on her dog Frankie.

I had not really planned to keep you when i found you. I had hoped to get you spayed and healthy and then find you a good home. But it took so long to get your fur and during that time i was reading about all the bad things that happened to pit bulls. This was when Michael Vick and his dog fighting rings were in the news so much. After having you for so long while we did the treatments, I was so worried about giving you to someone who would use you for a bait dog, and so I decided to keep you. I had Socrates and Maude. They slept on the couch with their heads on the two arm rests at each end. You managed to figure out how to fit right in between them. There you were, this little black dog in the middle of those two big fluffy white critters. And I decided that since i was already buying dog food for them, it wasn't going to be a big deal to just keep you.

At first, you weren't housebroken so i borrowed a crate from friends. I was living in a really big house in Yorkshire. The lady had lived there for 50 years when she died and she was a pack rat. The house was so full that there were little paths to follow to get through the rooms. So her family let me live there for about 18 months while i cleaned out the house. We put the crate in the dining room corner. It was a big crate and you sat there and never made a peep when we left you there and went upstairs to bed.

A few months later we moved to a little house on Kercheval just past Moross and then you were housebroken. The house was so small and no room for a crate so i decided to just let you loose in the house. You came and hopped in my bed as if it was the most normal thing ever. I had never had a dog sleep in my bed with me. Only my cats. But you just came into the bed and snuggled and you changed my life with that simple action.

I didn't realize how lonely i was then. I didn't have anyone special in my life. I had tried to
find someone that i could be in a relationship with. There were guys. But none that felt like someone i wanted to spend my life with. I had gotten divorced from my last husband about two years before I found you. And just by snuggling into the bed with me, you gave me a love i didn't even know could be. A love i had never had before. A bond that was so special. And now that you're gone, i despair of ever finding that kind of bond again.

I have Gracie and Ginger now. I love them. And they love me. But they aren't "my" dogs. You were "my" dog. You were sleeping next to me either in the bed or on the couch. You were on the rug in the bathroom next to the tub when i was taking a shower. You were usually in the passenger seat next to me whenever we went somewhere in the car.

And you went everywhere with me. I almost never left you. We spent summers up at the gravel pit, first in a tent and then in campers. You always slept with me in them. Wherever we were, you were next to me. You got to make many trips to visit our family in Washington DC and you got to take a cross country trip and swim in Lake Mead and the Pacific Ocean. We found dog parks on the beaches in San Diego and had fun. And then we went down to the Carolinas and you swam in the Atlantic Ocean too. I never thought about leaving you home much. Maybe once a year i would be gone. I think there were two trips to Vegas and a few short ones when i flew to Washington DC. But i think there were maybe 5 or 6 times in your whole life that I left you.

And those times when i didn't take you, you wouldn't eat while i was gone. And I would miss you and worry about you. We were a special pair with a special bond.
We had almost 10 years together and I told people that you saved my life. You were the best thing that happened to me besides Ken and Mike. And now I dont know how to do life
without you there next to me.

We had almost ten years. I taught you to swim with me that very first summer. I still had my cottage down near Hillsdale that summer and i would take you out to the lake with me and just by walking out into the water, you learned to swim. You never wanted to be away from me so if i walked into the water, you followed. And we swam together for the next 9 summers. You loved the water and you loved swimming to get your orange tennis ball. I can't even look at one of those orange balls right now. They pierce my heart because i always think of you when i see one. I hope that someday they will make me smile when i remember the thousands of times i threw the orange tennis ball for you. At the gravel pit- in the water. At many dog parks. Everywhere we went i was careful to pack the orange balls for you.

Right now i can't do anything but cry when i see those orange tennis balls. Especially the ones that squeak. You loved to carry them around and squeak them and shake your head. You sure made me laugh so much. And you were pretty attached to them. If you had a ball, you kept track of it. You didn't leave it in the grass somewhere and walk away. Nope, it was in your mouth when you were walking somewhere. You always brought it along. Gracie and Ginger have a ball and are playing and then just get distracted and leave it and walk away. But you didn't do that.

It's almost May. I was so looking forward to some warmer weather to make a trip to the camper. Now I'm not sure if I want to be there. First, Jack died last month. We didn't always see him when we went to the camper, but he was always in his little house up on the hill. And you loved it there. I would throw a tennis ball out for you from the door of the camper in the mornings and you would be gone to find it. Gracie sure loves it there too. She's a water dog and always in the lake. So we will probably still be going there for awhile at least. But it won't be the same without you there. I have always had you with me when i was there until now.

We went to see Dr Christina for the last few years of your life. I had thrown so many tennis balls and you had chased so many that we kind of wore out your front paws. You had a lot of arthritis in them. So a few years ago we started the doggie chiropractor. Mike told me that chiropractors didn't work. I guess they hadn't helped him with his back pains. Anyway, i told
him that I didn't care. That you loved it and if it was something that made you so happy, i wasn't going to deprive you of that pleasure. I'm just so glad that you got to see Dr Christina the day before you were gone. You were such a happy wiggle butt when we got to her office
place and even when your feet were so bad, you would walk quickly to get inside to see her.

I'm missing you so much. You were my dog and i was your person. Gracie and Ginger are dogs but they're kind of anybody's dog. They don't seem to think I'm special. You gave me that gift and that love and i probably won't ever experience that again. I'm sad but also so very grateful to have had it. You literally saved my life as much as I saved yours.

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