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  • michelle m. davis

Bad Ass Bella

I have a new dog. It’s not one that I ever would have chosen. In fact, she’s the exact opposite of what I would want in another dog. But we made a promise, and now I’m learning to live with Bella.

First, let me explain. We’re Lab people. We have big dogs… dogs who don’t yap, who go outside without complaining, who never have accidents in the house. Those are ourkind of dogs… real dogs.

But, when my mother-in-law passed away, we honored the agreement we made when we bought her this dog four years ago – that if something happened to Scott’s mom, we would take Bella - and we are damned and determined to keep this promise.

Bella’s been treated like a princess her entire life. She’s been able to do as she pleases, and her every interest has been indulged. (Why not? After all, she was an amazing little dog to Scott’s mom, Mary Lee.) But that is changing now that she is joining our family. It has to. We certainly love our dogs, but our worlds don’t revolve around them. No doubt this is as much of a transition for Bella as it is for us. Yet, we’re determined to make this work, even if Bella needs to go to some type of “doggy boot camp.” That’s why I now call her “Bad Ass Bella” to help her (and me) with this change.

This little nine pound Shihpoo (the name so appropriately describes her… “she who poos in our house”) will transform and fit into how we roll. It is my mission to get her to go outside with the big dogs, no longer “going” inside or requiring 6:00 a.m. leash walks with me in my slippers and pajamas, hoping that none of my neighbors will see me.

No, this dog is smart. I am convinced that she will get the drill, understand what is expected, change her behavior. At least that is what I hope.

For those of you who know me well, I fought the idea of taking this dog. In fact, I dug my heels into the ground, proclaiming that I would not keep Bella. It was one thing having her while my mother-in-law was sick, but to keep Bella permanently, well that was a totally different conversation. But, then three weeks ago I made a promise to a very special lady who wanted to make sure that the dog she cherished would be properly cared for… and things changed, I changed. I made the commitment to do my best to make this work. I will put my heart into helping Bella become the Bad Ass dog that she was always meant to be… in order to fit with our family. But I won’t do it by trying to control her, break her, make her be what I want. Instead, I will offer love and patience.

When my mother-in-law was in the hospital, I’d bring Bella to visit her. Bella would sit at the end of her bed, attempting to avoid hurting her “mom” whose legs were unbearably sore. Mary Lee enjoyed seeing Bella, and I am convinced that this little dog began to understand what was happening. A week before my mother-in-law died, she looked at me and said, “Bella is going to be a good Oregon dog.” I smiled, holding back the tears, and assured her that we’d take her to the river in a backpack, allowing her all of the joys that our big dogs, Mac and Mia, experience in Bend, Oregon. She smiled. She knew. She gave me Bella. And I accepted.

Now that it’s final, and Bella is ours, I’ve decided that she needs an altered name, something that respects who she’s always been but acknowledges who she will become. That’s when I realized that she can be a bad ass, just like her new brother, Mac. We just need to allow her to shift from Princess Bella to Bad Ass Bella. She certainly has the will, the spirit, and the stubbornness that “bad ass” implies. So, I’m ditching the pink stuff and toughening her up. And, guess what? She likes it! In fact, she is more than embracing her new “bad ass” role.

She loves getting muddy with the big dogs, growling at strangers, and eating their “big dog food” instead of the variety designed from tiny dogs. In fact, the other night Bella destroyed a large chew toy, pulling out all of the stuffing just like Mac does. I think that this is who she’s secretly wanted to be… a boss… owning it… calling the shots, but not from the princess role, rather from a more assertive position. Maybe this is how it’s supposed to be. I help Bella own her true identify while she teaches me to surrender and practice loving kindness to a nine pound, yappy, strong willed, loveable ball of fur!

So, welcome to the family, you Bad Ass Bella!


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