Nov. 29, 2021

BELLA BOO, I'LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU.

A LITTLE LONG BUT---IT'S A VALUABLE LOVE STORY--BETWEEN ME AND A FOUR-LEGGED-FRIEND.
 
In late November, 2019, I read a quick message on NEXT DOOR—an online site—specifically-designed for residents of Hot Springs Village. I seldom visit this site but a few sentences about a “precious little dog”—a stray with a beautiful face—got my attention and I began reading. It seemed the homeless dog was spotted near the CHI Senior Center on Highway 7, near Hot Springs Village. I’ve learned to stop questioning why a particular article touches my heart—as I absorbed every detail--- with strong resolve.
 
Within thirty minutes, I found myself in the Senior Center parking lot (a place I’d never been) in search of the homeless dog. I was immediately concerned because Highway 7---with its constant parade of log trucks, school buses, trailer-tractors, and speeding cars---- was just a few feet away. I didn’t see the dog that afternoon but the next morning I went back and--- spotted her a few buildings away from the Senior Center. Although she was extremely-wary of me, a stranger, she quickly devoured the food and water I placed in front of her.
 
Everyone and everything needs a name; something to serve as an “identifier”. Regardless of whether you’re naming a baby or a puppy, you keep repeating its new name over and over and soon--the baby or the puppy responds when it hears that familiar sound, that familiar word. It doesn’t take long for the “new name” to create an instant response.
 
I looked at my new doggie friend and heard myself speak the name: Bella Boo. I practiced saying the name---out-loud--over and over again. Two days later, when I couldn’t find my new doggie friend, I called her name—BELLA BOO—and almost immediately, my little friend appeared in front of me.
 
But, Bella Boo wouldn’t let me touch her. She stayed approximately 3 feet away from me at all times. She would only start eating when I opened the door to get in my car. I longed to pet her; to hold her; to let her know she was safe with me but-- I must be patient.
 
For more than 10 weeks, I fed and watered Bella Boo twice-a-day, every day. I found blankets and comforters to make a bed for her under the eaves of one building’s open porch. Day after day, the weather was freezing cold and always rainy, and the wind was viciously-fighting to penetrate every barrier but—every morning and every afternoon—Bella Boo and I would meet for a brief exchange. Very concerned, I watched two large dogs shadow Bella Boo for days, and realized she was most-certainly “in heat.”
 
I tried, desperately, to catch Bella Boo. More than a few times I watched her cross the highway---and barely make it to the other side. Unable to coax her into my car, I called the County Animal Control Services and County Humane Society. I learned the County’s Animal Control was a “kill” shelter that stayed over-crowded. They were only open half-a-day, and only rescued animals based on available space. I also learned the Humane Society didn’t actively rescue animals. Instead, they could only care for those who were delivered to their door.
 
One Thursday afternoon---I noticed Bella Boo’s food from her morning feeding was uneaten. I added fresh food to her existing food and left. Later that night, troubled and unable to sleep, I took my large flashlight and returned to her “hangout”. Along the way, I searched the highway, the sides of the road, fearing I might find her there. Nothing is spookier than an empty parking lot--in the country--- after dark--surrounded by old, vacate buildings---and not one street light-- for miles. I drove around---my windows down-- shining my small light and calling her name. Her food hadn’t been touched for more than 24 hours. Bella Boo was nowhere to be found.
 
The next morning I arrived at the parking lot at my usual time, hoping to see my doggie friend but instead, I found a handwritten note-- with no signature-- lying beside her food bowls: “Your dog, Bella Boo, was caught by Garland County Animal Services Wednesday Afternoon.” I immediately contacted Animal Services. Seven days passed before I was allowed to see my precious-friend.
 
After more than 12 weeks of caring for my homeless friend, Bella Boo, I missed her. I took some of her favorite snacks, dropped them in her cage, and watched her eat as if she was starving. The way she looked into my eyes---I never doubted she knew me. Before leaving, I spoke with Animal Control’s Director and was shocked to hear that--- due to Bella Boo’s pregnancy--- and the shelter’s overcrowding--- Bella Boo was scheduled to be euthanized Friday--which was the next day!
 
Moving quickly, I went directly to Garland County's Humane Society’s Director with a plan. After discussing my proposal with Board Members, the Society's Director contacted me to say—everyone agreed. Although The Humane Society was filled to capacity--they listend to Bella Boo’s story---and were unable to say "no".
 
After receiving my 200 dollar donation (I pawned some silver and jewelry)--THE HUMANE SOCIETY AGREED to move Bella Boo from Animal Control to their facilities, miles away. They also promised to care for Bella and her soon-to-arrive puppies until FOREVER HOMES could be found for all.
 
FRIDAY Morning, I became Bella Boo’s official owner by paying her adoption fee and within fifteen minutes, had her moved to her new home at Garland County Humane Society. Later in the afternoon, The Humane Society called to update me, saying: “Bella Boo is now snuggled among the familiar blankets you provided for her. She seems very happy.”
 
A few days after Bella Boo settled into her new surroundings, I visited her at the Humane Society. Her eyes told me she was relieved to be in a safe, warm, and loving environment. I reached out to pet her and---imagine my surprise when she let me pet her, rub her, and show how-much I loved her! At last---my cautious little friend--- trusted me. No doubt-- Bella Boo knew I was the one--who arranged her rescue.
 
I stayed with her until feeding time. I told her I’d come back soon and--leaving the society’s front door--I happened to glance at the only window overlooking the parking lot. Bella Boo was standing in the window, watching me leave and-- I could no-longer hold back the tears.
 
My innocent young doggie friend, the one I named Bella Boo, has apparently never- known an easy life. Born near Highway 7, Bella spent her days dodging trucks, cars, and motorcycles in search of food, a home, and love.
 
IF I’d had the money for a fence and for all her medical care, I wouldn’t have hesitated to add Bella Boo to my family but, sadly, I recognize my many limitations. Yet, that didn’t stop me from pledging my love and loyalty to Bella Boo AND---to help her find---Her Forever Home.
 
Now, for the first time since meeting Bella more than three months ago--I’m satisfied she’s safe. For the first time in her young life, she has hope and a future. Every day, I’m reminded that DOG spelled backwards--- spells GOD.  Like God…dogs love us freely. And, like God, they ask only one thing of us in return:That we simply-love them.
 
Follow-up: Bella Boo delivered eleven puppies---all healthy and all beautiful!!!! As soon as the puppies were deemed “old enough to travel”---Bella Boo and her family re-located to a plush animal “ranch” in California---their Forever Home.
 
I was told by the Humane Society’s Director that after sharing Bella Boo’s Story and the photos I’d taken---there were endless requests to adopt Bella Boo and all her babies. Since the Director had a personal connection with the Ranch Owner in California—she selected that home as the best “Forever Home” for Bella Boo and her family. Seems that Bella Boo and her "crew" were quite a hit with their new family in California.
 
LOVE ISN’T LOVE---‘TIL YOU GIVE IT AWAY.