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.