bella

Dog One, Dog Two

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I miss them both. Stupid dogs, burrowing their way into my heart.

Channelling Bella

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After Bella died, Annie sorta moped around a bit. She seemed at first excited about ALL THE ATTENTION, but then seemed to realize Bella was gone and moped. Cookie was around briefly to keep Annie company, but that didn't work out, so now she receives lots of attention from Kris, me when I'm around, and friends who stop by.

Missing Bella

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"I miss the Bella."

"I do, too."

"When will I stop missing her?"

"Never."

Yesterday, I came across an SD card that I hadn't cleaned out yet, and looked at the pictures on it. They're from the month before Bella died. We were taking her to the vet for fluids regularly, and the pictures were of her in my car on the way to the vet. Everyone at the vet's knew her, they knew me. She never had to wait for her appointment: she'd show up and be ushered into the back room with no delay. I'm pretty sure that didn't thrill her.

I can honestly say, as a cat person, I never expected to miss a dog. Bella had very cat-like qualities, and reminded me in many, many ways of Dirty Mitten, Jenny's cat when we were growing up. That cat would always console anyone crying, and be around people when all the time. She was a good cat.

Bella was a good dog.

Odd to say, but Bella is the first pet I've had die. All my other pets either ran away or were given away earlier. Bella was the first who died still with me.

I miss her howling. I miss her stinkiness. I miss her snuggling. I miss her single lick of the nose to say hello. I miss her curling up into a ball at my feet. I miss her warm puppy breath. I miss her tricking Annie into leaving the spot Annie was sitting in, because Bella wanted to sit there. I miss her burrowing. I miss a lot about that dog. I still miss her every day.

An aunt of mine told me that you never stop missing your pets after they pass. You have other pets that you hope will fill the holes created when the earlier ones die; but, the new ones don't really fill those holes. Instead, you love each of your pets, and gather more holes as they pass, and celebrate their lives and the time you had with them.

I wonder how many more of these Bella picture surprises I'll have.

I hope I remember to celebrate them and not be sad because of the pictures.

Good girl, Bella.

Bella

Daily Photo

Thanksgiving 2006

Bella

Daily Photo

On a hike to Fremont Older, Thanksgiving 2006

Bella McQueen, 14 August 1995 - 19 September 2012

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We met Bella on August 12th, 2003. We were walking along a sidewalk, up a hill in a cute neighborhood in Sausalito, after a three hour rush-hour commute drive, to visit the beagle I had found on Craigslist. I had been looking for a couple months for an older beagle at this point, to follow up on my promise to Kris that he could get a dog once I had a house.

As we walked up the hill, we started passing a small fenced-in front yard where a small dog in a cone of shame started howling at us. "How dare we pass in front of her house?" came the barking from the bug-eyed little creature, and I wondered, wait a second, is this the dog?

Kris loved her immediately.

We waited until Angelica came out from the house, introduced ourselves to Bella's human, and asked if we could take her for a walk. Angelica said yes, grabbed a leash, explained the dog's cone of shame as she removed it, and began telling us Bella's history.

Bella was going to be 8 in two days. She had been with Angelica on her journey from Southern California to Northern California. She was pure-bred, had her papers. She was smart, barking at strangers but not people she knew, barking through the apartment window. Angelica had a three year old girl and was pregnant with her second child, and could no longer take care of Bella as much as Bella was expecting. Angelica was looking for a good home for her little doggie.

I really wasn't sure about this little tan dog. She tugged at the leash on the walk, hid her poop in the ivy, barked a lot and kept hitting me with her cone, wielding it like a weapon. Kris was sure, though: he wanted the dog.

Given our drive up took three hours and we didn't really want to drive up again, we asked if we could have her that evening. Angelica expected a little more time to say good-bye, and asked if we could come back in a hour. We said yes, went to have dinner at a seaside restaurant, and returned an hour later to pick up our new dog.

Before we took her home, Bella, Kris and I sat down and had a talk. We negotiated her contract with us. We told her if she gave Angelica eight years, we expected at least that many years, too. She'd have to be strong, given that most beagles live 12-15 years, but that we had faith she could do it. She offered a paw, and said she agreed to the contract.

We took her home.

Bella took to us immediately. There was no doubt with Bella when she arrived at our house that this was her home. She ran through every room, looked in every corner, hunted in small places like under the bed, dashed outside to see what was out there, came back into the house and kept going.

We put her dog bed in our bedroom that first night, and discovered very quickly that this tiny little doggie snored. Snored like a freight train. Loudest little doggie ever. Angelica confirmed she was a loud loud little dog, perhaps slightly worried we'd ask to return her.

Not going to happen. We were keeping her.

When we adopted Annie a couple months later, my hopes of getting a cat in the next decade disappeard. Wasn't going to happen. They would chase any cat, being the hunting dogs they were, so I resigned myself to treating Bella like a cat, a big fat stinky cat. She obliged. She would sit on my lap and let me pet her as long as I wanted.

Life with Bella and Annie certainly wasn't all roses. Bella howled a lot, barked a lot, peed in the bed on occasion, and obsessively licked her self. Annie was undisciplined, food-obsessed, whiny, and demanding. I wanted to unadopt Annie for years. Kris loved them both, so they both stayed.

I have lots of Bella stories.

There's the time when she tore her ACL and became Broken Bella Beagle. She had surgery a month later. It was an expensive surgery for the dog, but in hindsight, a great investment. The doctor commented she was an old dog, and he wasn't sure it was the right decision. It was.

There's the season I was completely unsure why my raspberry bushes stopped producing. The previous season I had enough raspberries to make a pie. The next, I had maybe two raspberries.

It was only when I was outside in the back yard during the day when I heard this little ticking noise and followed it around to the raspberries did I realize why: Bella was eating my raspberries. She loved the fruits, they were just at beagle mouth height, and clearly I was growing them for her. She's just wander into the raspberry bushes, and start munching.

I suspect she was disappointed when the bushes died.

There's the time when we had our first real scare with Bella. She had a seizure. We didn't really know what was going on, and originally thought she was choking. She had many since then, and we were better about handling them, but they weren't really anything we could help with for her. We could sit with her, hold her as every muscle her little body flexed and her limbs curled in ways they shouldn't have curled.

And then there was the time when I would come home to discover yet another pair of underwear half chewed, lying on the floor in my bedroom. I have yet to discover what about my crotch was so tasty to that dog. I eventually broke her of that habit, thankfully, but it was after a half dozen pairs of destroyed compression shorts and countless made-crotchless panties.

Bella wasn't always a good girl. She was often a bad dog.

She loved to be up high, either on my lap or on the bed or on the back of the couch. GAH so much dog hair and dogs squishing the couch back cushions. Of all of her annoying quirks, that was the one that annoyed me the most (okay, okay, that one actually pissed me off). She loved being on the back of the couch.

Bella was a good hiking companion, after we trained her a bit. She loved hikes up at Waterdog Lake where she could go offleash. She tolerated our hikes to Fremont Older. She thought Fort Funston was the best. She was much louder than Annie when she was on a scent, so following her was easier - just listen for the snuffling and then the baying.

I have so many more Bella stories, and I'm sure I've told most of them. The vet techs loved the Bella. Bella was a sweetie, winning the hearts of so many people. She was a good dog. I'm glad she decided to adopt us, and let us spend over nine years with her. We'll miss her a lot.

I'll miss her a lot.

I'll miss her bunches.

Bella died today

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I woke up this morning after a bad night of heartache, and went to find Bella. We were going to take Bella to the vet this morning, to end her suffering. I keep thinking, maybe not yet, maybe she can last another day.

I found her on her side on the camping pad, legs flailing as she tried to sit up. She couldn't move her body enough to put a leg under her to rotate to sit up. She just kept flailing.

My heart broke as I realized she wasn't going to last another day.

I picked her up, and tried to stand her up. She would have fallen over if I hadn't helped her, so I carried her outside and set her down so that she could pee if she needed to pee. She didn't seem to, and tried to walk, falling over before I could stop her.

I helped her back up, and stood over her as she started walking in circles around the backyard. I wasn't sure what she was looking for, what she was going, but I was going to help her do whatever she was doing. We walked figure eights in the yard and we walked circles. We walked up to walls, and turned around and kept walking. She didn't pee.

While I was helping Bella, Kris was calling the vet. It wasn't nine, yet, so I thought I had time.

I didn't.

He came out and told me to go dress, we were going to the vets.

There's something hard yet simple about carrying your dog to her death. She lost a lot of weight, so carrying her wasn't hard, yet it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I held her close.

The desk knew Bella, knew we were coming in, led us immediately to a room, and the vet showed up almost immediately. They had a new, padded blanket on the examining table, which was nice to lay her down on. The vet started examining her, listening to her heart, asking about the heart murmur, about her breathing. It was clear pretty quickly that she didn't understand why we were here.

Kris stood up. "We appreciate your looking her over, but we're ready to say goodbye."

The vet looked up surprised. "I believe that's the correct decision," she said. She explained what would happen, then left to get a paper to sign and a syringe of anaesthetic.

When she returned, two of the vet techs came in with her. They wanted to say good-bye, too. With Bella receiving fluids twice a week at the vets for the last eight months, they had come to know and love Bella, too.

So, with four sets of hands petting her, Bella received her final shot. She flinched, and then settled, as the four of us pet her, giving her as much love as we could. One of the techs commented they have lots of pictures of Bella in the back, that she was one tough dog. Kris commented she was quite the Rally Beagle!

They took Bella out to put a catheter in her arm, and brought her back. One of the techs came back with the vet. The vet asked us to sign a paper authorizing her to complete the injection. Bella was snoring away, finally relaxed in a way I don't think she had been for months, if not a year. The vet told us that we wouldn't have to stop at the front desk on our way out, asked if we preferred a communal cremation or a private cremation with ashes returned (the latter, clearly) and asked if we were ready.

No, we were not ready, we would never be ready for this. Fuck no never never never.

We nodded.

The vet injected a second syringe into the catheter. Bella's breathing slowed, then stopped. The vet listened to her heart, then said, "She's gone." She said other words, I don't know what they were. The vet and the tech left.

After they left, I put my face into her neck, with the words "TAKE IT BACK! TAKE IT BACK! I WANT THE BELLA BACK! TAKE IT BACK!" screaming in my head. Unable to do much else, I sobbed. I cried and cried and cried the sounds of loss. It took Kris' hand on my shoulder a while later for me to come out of the pain, and his request that we not stay long enough for him to feel her become cold, for me to stop the waves of heartache long enough to walk out of that room and leave her behind.

Death should never be that easy.

We went back to the house. I spent the day crying.

This is the last picture I have of Bella alive. The vet techs removed their hands from the picture, so you don't know that four people were pouring their love into this little doggie just a second before the photo.

Still alive with twice the love

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Been lax in posting Bella's "Still alive!" pictures, but not really in taking them. She mostly sleeps, which is unsurprising, so the pictures aren't that exciting really.

She's been struggling, though. She can't see. She can't hear. She doesn't finish her meals. She knows the paths to go outside, but seems to forget why she went outside. She can't turn around, needs to back up to escape from whatever corner she used the wall to guide herself into. She slips on hard surfaces. She seems mostly unable to move her back legs a third of the time. She hasn't been on a walk for a number of days. She weighs less than 22 pounds.

I think this is it. I've been crying nearly non-stop, petting her non-stop, touching her non-stop, and, when she let's me, feeding her whatever she is willing to eat. At this point, it happens to be beef and only beef. With BBQ sauce on it. Lots of sloppy BBQ sauce.

I've spent the evening saying good-bye. Stupid little dog. Stupid little cute dog, tugging on my heart.

Super Cuteness

Squinty

It was hot today

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Well, apparently for everyone but me. I've been cold since winter.

Having a fur coat, however, seems to remedy that.

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Schnoz

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Still alive.

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