She was a birthday present, from me to DH, back when he started working for the big firm and we knew we’d soon be able to buy a house with room for a puppy. She was born on New Year’s Day, and we brought her home six weeks later, a gorgeous little creature with the most striking blue eyes I’ve ever seen peering out of her red-gold face.
Oh, how she tried my patience! Not so much when we were home, though her energy was enough to make your head spin, but when I’d be gone for even an hour, I’d get back to our apartment complex and hear her howling from several houses away. I knew that when I came in the door, there’d be both a crate and a puppy to scrub clean, as she soiled herself and in her panic would manage to coat it all over the inside of her crate. And she was stubborn – at least as stubborn as me. One rainy night, we stood outside on the patio, me gritting my teeth and commanding her to go potty and she scrabbling at the patio door, trying to get inside where it was dry. But she was also hilarious, sweet, and so loving, spending hours curled up in a lap only to wake up and careen madly about the living room. Coming down the stairs was a challenge she met with a little growl and a charge, hurtling down them as though they could be caught and gnawed into submission. After several weeks, my allergy to her was making life difficult, too. But when I went to the doctor and he recommended we get rid of the dog, I broke down crying. She was already family; there would be no sending her back.
Since we’ve had her, she’s been a true inspiration. Her suffering has helped countless people find ways to treat their own troubled dogs: the most popular post I’ve ever written, almost four years ago, averages at least 25 hits per day, and still generates comments periodically. With everything that she’s been through, mangled ears and a leg amputation, she bore it all with a remarkable sweetness of nature, never once baring her teeth at those whose help caused her pain. From her I learned how to be a better person and even a better parent.
When we brought L home from the hospital, she loved him from the start. Ever patient and ever gentle, she calmly accepted his attentions, no matter how tightly he grabbed a fistful of skin, and when she mistakenly thought someone meant harm to the boy, she got up to stand between them, making it clear she was his protector.
After all that, the end came as sudden as a car crash and inevitable as a juggernaut. Last night, suddenly, she was in pain. She went out and laid on the patio for a bit, and wouldn’t come in for a treat. I took her in to the vet, thinking at first I was just being paranoid. Then thinking maybe she ate something that got lodged in a bad place in her system. I never guessed tumors, not even for a millisecond, and though the doc didn’t say it last night, I knew even then there really wasn’t anything they could do except prolong her suffering.
By this afternoon, it was clear. Now I know she is Home, and Whole, and she’ll be the first one there to greet us some day.
She was my first dog, and I think she’ll always be the best. Everybody who knew her, loved her. She had no enemies.
Good bye, my Belle. Thank you for everything. Your life was our blessing.