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Do some of you remember Bella Alucard Baghdog?


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Here she is, on the left, with her pal Curly on the right. She was sunshine in the form of a dog.

 

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Bella wandered into our lives in March, 2003, meandering down our block wagging to herself. She had no collar so when we saw her lingering around, we brought her into our yard to prevent her from possibly getting hit by a car. It took less than a day before her sweet, gentle disposition had the whole family falling in love with her. Our only dog at the time, Curly, didn't like many other dogs, but Bella he attached to immediately as if she were a long-lost litter mate (but clearly no, see photo). And so Bella joined our family.

 

About a week later I learned that Bella actually belonged to friends about 2 blocks away...she'd gotten out and gone on one of her customary slow strolls around the neighborhood. By now my family loved her, so the idea of having to give her back was a sad one. But then the mother of her "real" family confided that she didn't really want the dog & it would be great if we wanted her. So Bella became ours.

 

We hadn't really arrived at a good name for her yet, but we hated the one she'd already been given..."Timber". So I put it to the membership of Via Chicago, and eventually we arrived at "Bella" which suited her beautiful self, followed by "Alucard" which is just Dracula spelled backward. No particular reason, it just sounded cool. Then I wrapped it up with "Baghdog" because she had come to us just as the war in Iraq had begun. Bella Alucard Baghdog.

 

The words don't exist that could properly convey what a wonderful dog she was. My head is full of memories...BBQ nights with her and Curly getting stuffed on "dropped" hot dogs which they learned to skillfully beg, in tag-team formation, from those of us who were manning the BBQ...they may have eaten more than we did! They came to love that BBQ grill. I remember the two of them being brought inside on Christmas mornings to collect their presents...dog toys and treats. They loved Christmas mornings, although you could tell that all the hubbub on that one day was a mystery to them.

Our neighbor has a huge overhanging walnut tree, and Bella discovered an insatiable appetite for the very good English walnuts from that tree. She would bit them open and eat out the nutmeats and about half the shells as well, and then leave the sharp shards lying around in the grass for us to step on. Since we were often collecting the walnuts ourselves, Bella sometimes got scolded for eating all the good ones. She took to stuffing her mouth with whole walnuts and trying to slip past us to some private place where she could eat them. She wasn't nearly as inconspicuous as she imagined herself to be, slipping past with her mouth bulging. It was wildly endearing so she was allowed to get away with it. Besides walnuts, her favorite food was the free-range june bug, caught on the wing and gulped down. Sometimes she'd open her mouth as the bug bumped around inside, and it would buzz frantically away. Sometimes she'd re-catch it, more often it would escape as she pursued happily. She loved the game.

Every now and again one of the kids would leave our driveway gate open, and Bella would slip out. But she didn't behave like the typical dog and hurry off to smell trees and leave urine samples of her own. No, Bella was in no hurry at all, it was a Sunday saunter for her, the slowest shuffle off down the street. We'd find her a block away, wagging at something in her slow, peaceful, contented way.

Did she ever stop wagging? Not really, not even in her sleep. I never knew a dog that was as purely happy as she was. I'd look out the window often, and see her out in the backyard, walking by herself or with Curly, sunshine glowing off her glossy fur. She'd be wagging to herself, slowly, happily, the whole time. If one of her people were around, all the more reason to smile and wag.

One problem with Bella was that she was built like a short, solid little tank of a dog, and she often was so content that she saw no reason to move. So you'd nearly trip over her as she stood there placidly wagging, as though she were bolted in place. We all got good at doing the Bella swerve, where you went wherever you were going, making allowances for veering around her as necessary. She approved all of it. Wag, wag, wag.If she was near an object like a trash can or the BBQ, you got the audio track to her contentment: thwack, thwack, thwack. I loved that big swishing tail.

About the only other problem we ever had with her was that she was a bit of a digger. I didn't mind so much when she dug herself beds behind the hedges to keep cool in summer, but she got a tongue-lashing last summer, after I'd built a special planting bed and put an artichoke in its center. Bella removed the artichoke and replaced it with a favorite bone. (We replanted the moderately-thrashed artichoke, but it has never fully recoved from its trauma.) Still, how long can one tongue-lash a hound who is smiling patiently at you and wagging? She loved everybody unreservedly. I could learn a lot from her. We all could.

Bella was old when we got her...already graying at the muzzle and a bit swaybacked. I never knew how old she was, and the previous owners didn't either since they hadn't had her very long. But I figure she was at least 14 or 15 by now. When we first got her I knew she couldn't live forever, but I liked that Curly had a companion, and very close to his own age, from appearances. Curly is 15 now, nearly completely blind, and with some arthritis that needs cortisone shots every now and then. He's no spring chicken.

In the past several weeks, Bella's age has suddenly, ferociously, caught up with her. She began to look lean, and I began to slip her extra food and treats. Still she looked thinner. She began to walk more stiff-legged, without her usual bouncy step. I began to prepare myself mentally for the possibility of needing to have her euthanized. Crap. Painful to even consider, but of course I had to. But I took heart that she clearly wasn't in pain, and if her gait through the sunshine in the backyard had slowed, it was nonetheless still followed by the incessant wagging to herself.

About 4 days ago, she began to stay in the garage almost all the time. I had just bought new dog beds for her and Curly, so she was totally comfortable, and she was still eating fine. I noticed her shivering one night and realized her bony body wasn'y up to the task of keeping herself warm anymore, and October has been turning cold at night. I moved her indoors on her bed, set up next to mine. Two days ago, she threw up most of the food I'd given her. Yesterday she couldn't eat at all, but I was able to give her some water with a syringe. She was still wagging anytime one of us came up to her, even as weak as she obviously was. I got up this morning knowing I had to take her to the vet, and dreading it. My oldest son, Tom, wanted to see her one more time before she was put down (Tom no longer lives at home) so I was waiting on him. About 11:15 this morning, Bella wagged a few times, tried to raise up her head and look around, and then laid back down, breathing with her usual snore but a bit more labored. Then she got quiet, and I was grateful she was managing to sleep. I checked her a few minutes later, and she was gone.

 

I am devastated. It hit me as I began typing this that all I have are photos now...I can't go to her anymore for that sweet smile and happy wagging. You can see, even in this photo, that she's wagging.

 

I'll never have another dog like her. Bella, this is for you. We love you so much.

 

Tomorrow we will bury her underneath the pink bouganvillea she loved to sleep beneath. If you've read this far, you must have dogs you love. Go tell them so and give them some treats. Tell 'em I sent you, in Bella's memory.

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Oh crap Donna. Many many many hugs from here.

 

Whispering to you what I say to everyone and to myself when an animal who has been fiercely loved passes on and when the tears are so thick you can't see

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Donna, I just got around to reading this and am sitting here in tears. I've had three dogs in my life and every one of them was a full-fledged member of the family with a special, unique place in my heart. There's nothing like the love of a good dog, and it is heartbreaking when you have to say goodbye. Bella sounds like a sweet, blithe spirit, and those memories will stay with you longer than this pain--but you know that. You've already written a beautiful tribute to her, and I'll bet she's wagging her tail in doggie heaven right now, thanking you for the good life you gave her.

 

I loved the story about Bella sneaking around with walnuts crammed in her mouth. It reminded me of my childhood pet, a big German Shepherd, who was terrified of thunder and lightning. She wasn't allowed on the bed, but when there was a storm outside she would jump her 100-pound self up on the bed and put her head under the pillows, not moving a muscle. I know that in her doggie mind she was thinking, "If I just lie very still with my head under this pillow, they'll never see me up here!"

 

Smiling through tears--my favorite emotion. I'm sending a hug across the miles for you, Brennan and the rest of your family.

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Thanks so much for all the love and affection, everyone. Her grave is almost finished...of course the ground was like rock, despite the recent rains. My boys are digging the last bit now by floodlight, and then we'll lay her to rest with a few of her favorite things: a well-gnawed tennis ball, a few walnuts, a handful of the cats' kibble she loved so much, and even a dead june bug that Alissa found yesterday, lying in one of the holes Bella had dug for herself under a bush. There was a walnut there, too. Apparently she saved her favorite little dog treasures there.

 

Already I'm trying to look past missing her to the blessing sometime in the future, because I will be getting some new dog at the local shelter. Noodle is mostly an indoor dog, but Bella and Curly were outdoor dogs and great company for each other. I don't want Curly lonely, and we have a nice big yard that would be heaven to some shelter dog. I'll need to wait a bit though...right now I would just be trying to find another Bella, and that wouldn't be fair to the new dog.

 

Thanks for caring.

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I read this yesterday, and couldn't even bring myself to respond. Losing a pet is a gut wrenching, devastating experience. You mentioned only having photos left, but that's not exactly true. You have lots of great memories, some of which you shared with us. Those memories and experiences far outweigh the temoprary pain we all must go through when we lose our pets.

 

My sincere condolences go to you, your family and everyone who knew Bella.

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Really sorry to hear about it,and in some many ways happy for you and your family,because I think every one of this amazing dogs are made for God to bless us.

As I´ve told you, my Rita had surgery yesterday for a liver biopsy.Our vet decide to extract her spleen,where she had a big tumour.She´s recovering very well (more or less, she´s 12 years old)

We´re all expecting not to hear "cancer",but we´re trying to be strong and give her the best in the next future.

Anyways,I´m still sad for my Loiro,who left us two years ago,so...

The smile of God,that´s the name I have for their open mouths...the one from Loiro,and Bella,and Rita,and Curly,and Noodle,and our little Nana...

Kisses and tears.

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Very sorry about the loss. Even though us pet owners know any pet is going to be taken away way too soon, we keep going back for the love and affection. A good dog is something that stays with you forever. Sounds like he had a wonderful time with you!

 

 

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Really sorry to hear about it,and in some many ways happy for you and your family,because I think every one of this amazing dogs are made for God to bless us.

As I´ve told you, my Rita had surgery yesterday for a liver biopsy.Our vet decide to extract her spleen,where she had a big tumour.She´s recovering very well (more or less, she´s 12 years old)

We´re all expecting not to hear "cancer",but we´re trying to be strong and give her the best in the next future.

Anyways,I´m still sad for my Loiro,who left us two years ago,so...

The smile of God,that´s the name I have for their open mouths...the one from Loiro,and Bella,and Rita,and Curly,and Noodle,and our little Nana...

Kisses and tears.

 

Oh, Bea, I hope your Rita will be fine! It sounds as though you are doing everything possible to care for her. The love of a dog really brings out the best in people, makes them give all the love they have to give!

 

"The smile of God"...yes, Bella had that. What a beautiful expression!

 

 

Thank you to everyone who's been so kind and thoughtful. You warm my heart. :cheekkiss I'm better now that we've given Bella a lovely little family burial, tucked into a favorite spot of hers in our backyard. We cried our eyes out, but the little ceremony helped.

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