Bella – My big slobbering fur-ball!

Up-to-date with routine shots

Before anybody jumps to conclusions, I would like to make it very clear that I named my dog much before the name was associated with the girl whose heart is torn between a cold-blooded glistening vampire and a warm-blooded hairy half naked werewolf. So Bella came into my life rather abruptly one fine winter evening when my Father decided that it was time for me to experience having a pet in my life. I was 14 at the time and before that I never really considered myself to be much of an animal lover. In fact when my Father did tell me about getting a dog I actually tried to convince him not to go ahead with it. I didn’t want to clean up after it, I didn’t want to take it for walks, I didn’t want to be home in time to feed it all the time. Basically, I understood the responsibility of having a pet and I didn’t want any of it.

But Boy oh boy was I wrong. My Father somehow managed to convince me to go pick her up from her previous owner. And when I saw her for the first time I instantly fell in love with her. There she was, in a tiny play pen, only 5 weeks old, a little white furball slightly bigger than my palm, fast asleep. She was snoring away to glory, her little tail moving around as she probably dreamed of food (that’s what I figured she was dreaming off). I picked her up and just started walking back to the car and my Father knew he didn’t have to convince me further.

The ride back home is one of my most vivid memories. This adorable little puppy sat in my lap, looking at me very curiously. She had the sweetest brown eyes that could melt your heart (that’s how she manages to get treats out of everybody till this very day).  We played in the limited space of my car until she was so exhausted that the first thing she did when we reached home was crawl under a bush and fall asleep for almost 2 hours!

The next few weeks were amusing as Bella was so tiny that she would get lost in the garden. We would find her hiding under bushes, under the staircase, under the table. She had been to every nook and cranny of our house. And then this little munchkin learned how to climb the stairs! I have very mixed emotions about that actually. It was adorable when she climbed up but then she hadn’t figured out how to get down. So her highness would bark away to glory until someone climbed two flights of stairs and brought her back down!

So Bella is unusually big for a Labrador as well. So much so that she outgrew a cute little box I had made up for her (with bedding and all) in two weeks! It was hilarious to watch her trying to squeeze herself into this box. But she soon realized the joys of sleeping on the floor-unrestricted by four cardboard walls.

As she grew up, we realized what greed truly was. This dog could eat, and eat how! She would wolf her meal in a matter of seconds and then come back with those big brown heart melting eyes begging for more. We soon realized not to fall prey to her “I’m starving please feed me” look. Unfortunately visitors continued to be fooled by the façade and Bella was victorious in her ultimate quest for food at all times.

The second thing we realized soon enough was that as mischievous as Bella was as a pup (running around chewing the soles of my school shoes, jumping on the furniture, she literally did eat my homework once!), she was just as lazy as she grew up. A lot of my friends tell me she has taken after her owner (haha, so funny you are guys), but seriously I have never seen a dog who is lazier than this one). There have been times when Bella has just plonked herself in the middle of the road refusing to get up! The one time a cat got into the house, I had to wake Bella up and make a lot of noise before she realized that a cat was there.

That was hilarious because she got super excited when she saw the cat, chased it around all over the house, cornered it and then looked at me very quizzically, as if to say “okay now what do I do”. In the meantime, the cat goes a little berserk and threatens Bella (which Bella mistakes for signs of friendship and starts wagging her tail) and jumps over her making it safely to the window. As the cat looks at Bella with a whole “I’m better than you”, Bella seems so amused and happy that she’s just jumping around. Since then the same cat keeps coming back and mocks Bella. It’s a shame Bella still mistakes mockery for affection-that dog really has a muddled head!

Despite being quite silly most of the time, I must admit that dogs are the most perceptive when it comes to emotions. There are two instances in my life that made me realize this. The first was when I moved out of my house to study out of the city. Bella was so upset about the whole thing that she changed allegiance! She refused to show me any kind of affection when I would go home. She would not play with me and she was sulk every time I had to leave. Moreover, she started sleeping in my parents room. Although she has stopped giving me the silent treatment and grown to love me again over time, I do sense that she no longer harbours the same unconditional affection for me as she did before- my bad! However, despite my departure making her feel like she was abandoned, she still managed to make some space in that heart of hers. Whenever I’m feeling low and I happen to be at home, Bella will walk upto me and just rest her head on my lap. She’ll give me the most intense look as if to say, “no matter what others make you feel, I will always love you with all I’ve got.” She has the knack to know exactly the level of how upset one is and how to deal with it- ranging from being playful to distract me, asking for attention, right up to just sitting close to me with her head or paw in my lap. She just knows what to do and that amazes me!

This brings me to the second instance in my life which is when I realized the extent to which Bella is a part of my family. She is family and she always will be. Unfortunately, my small little family had to deal with the loss of my mother two years ago after an unexplained but prolonged illness of two months. During the emotionally wrecking ups and downs of the course of treatment, Bella was as equally affected as us. She sensed my Mums absence, she sensed my Mums illness and she sensed when things were not looking good. She seemed happier on the good days and visibly distraught roaming around the house on bad days. But what I am most thankful and utterly grateful to this wonderful creature was the support she has given my family just by being the unconditionally loving dog she is. I truly believe she is one of the most important reasons, my Father has been so strong and pragmatic about the entire situation. Her presence in my house gives me some solace when I unnecessarily worry about him from Bombay. In fact, she and my Father have such a beautiful bond now. They have the most adorable routine-involving long walks (with the occasional cow chase of course), naps in the afternoon, quarterly visits to the vet (which Bella loves surprisingly) and so much more. Their love for food only makes them closer. She has helped us all get through this in such small but beautiful ways.

To finally wrap this piece up (which was meant to be just a short paragraph), Bella is one of the best things that has happened to me. I can’t imagine not loving dogs anymore. I can’t imagine what life would’ve been without this big, cuddly, hair-shedding (you might mistake some of my jackets to be fur coats, she sheds that much) slobber machine! There is only one thing I haven’t figured out about this dog in the past 9 years…. And that is how she can be so freakin’ lazy? She’s probably the only dog who doesn’t run to the door when the bell rings.

Author: Raisa Goveas