Sunday was International Dog Day and it got me thinking about my little dog, Bella. Remember I’ve written about her a few times. I got her just after having a hysterectomy and she was my perpetual baby until the day she died.
I had her for eleven years, which wasn’t long enough.
When I first brought Bella home she was a tiny, blonde, one-pound Chihuahua. My sons said she looked like a stick of butter with legs, and I had to agree. I was so worried about stepping on her or shutting her in a door. But I never did.
It helped that my 96 pound black lab loved and protected little Bella and was sure I brought her home for him. They were so cute together. I remember one time I was looking all over the house for her and couldn’t find her.
Glancing over at my lab I noticed him sitting up proudly on his big fluffy bed. And underneath his chest was little Bella sound asleep. He was happily keeping her warm and safe.
One of the reasons I got Bella when I did was because my lab was 14 and I knew he didn’t have a lot of time left with us. I heard little dogs like her could live up to 25 years. I wanted that.
I could see us two old ladies living together for a long time.
She was there when I needed her the most. After breakups and finding myself alone too many times, that little dog was a constant friend and companion to me.
When I met John and we became friends, I could tell he wasn’t a fan of little dogs. He tolerated her because he liked me. But even she finally won him over. I’m pretty sure she managed to accomplish that even before I was able to.
She went everywhere I did, even on my bicycle.
But her all time favorite place to go was the beach. She was just like me and it was her happy place too. The first time John and I went to the beach together, Bella came as well.
That funny girl was following us along as we walked on the beach, but then all of a sudden decided to turn around and head back towards the car without us. John ran after her and brought her back to me.
I think I fell for him right about then.
John stuck around and Bella decided he was okay too. So we all lived together for a while. When we moved to Santa Barbara from Napa, Bella and I moved first. John stayed behind to finish working for a month.
When Bella and I discovered Hendry’s off-leash beach, we were both in heaven. She loved going there, and we went most afternoons.
One day in late May 2015, I took her to the beach for the last time. We arrived just after 4:00 and I let her off leash. She ran and ran and happily started playing with all the other dogs.
A bigger dog came up to play with her, and I found out from her owner that her dog’s name was Bella too. She was a young pit bull with the same coloring as my little girl.
They played together for just a minute until the big Bella accidentally squeezed her jaw around my Bella’s middle and we heard a yelp. I knew in an instant it wasn’t good.
I went to grab her as she stumbled, circled and fell to the sand. I carefully picked her up and held her in my arms and she looked up at me as her breath became more and more labored. I kept telling her that I loved her and she was with me at the beach and everything was okay.
And then she took her last breath.
The poor girl with the pit bull was beside herself crying too. We were both a mess. She asked me what to do, and I said to just help me to my car. As she did, she called the nearest animal hospital and gave me directions.
I laid her on a towel in the front seat and drove there, numb. I was in shock and disbelief in that moment. I messaged John that I couldn’t speak but told him what happened.
I then messaged my son, Adam and told him where I was. The vet came and looked at her and cleaned her up while I held her. Adam came and we both cried and said goodbye to her.
I walked around in a trance for days afterward. It was just all too surreal.
But as with other losses I’ve had, I moved on. I will never forget her, and the happiness that she brought me outweighs the sadness of her passing. She was with me, on the beach when she took her last breath, and you can’t really ask for more.