Bella was not supposed to be my dog. My son was grown and had finished college though he was living with us when he rescued her. We had an Australian shepherd and I didn’t want another dog in the house. But Travis came home one evening with Bella, who certainly needed rescuing. She was practically feral and would perch on the back of furniture like a hawk, growling and looking ferocious. She’d stand on her hind legs to grab food as if she’d had to forage desperate scraps to sustain herself. Within a few days she went into heat and was completely wild for weeks.

Having her neutered didn’t relieve the fear and aggressive behavior. My son, Travis, was the only one who could get near her. Her health issues are too numerous to list. Vet visits, surgeries, emergencies, Travis patiently paid for all of them and cared for her. A “puppy mill” dog who’d apparently been abused, Bella was lucky to have found him. But Travis isn’t a miracle worker, five years ago, after he’d had her for six years, she went blind. Travis became her seeing-eye person.

Life went on around Bella and she barely noticed. Travis married and had children. My husband and I began to take Bella for extended periods. The second baby’s birth was followed by a particularly harsh winter. It was impossible for our daughter-in-law to take Bella out, Bella was frightened by the children, tripping over toys, having more and more “accidents.” When surprised, she snaps–not suitable behavior around small children.

So for the safety of our grandchildren, the sanity of our daughter-in-law and the sake of our son, we took Bella in.

She’s old and sick and blind but Travis can’t make the decision…On her bad days, it can be really scary. She has bloody stools and chokes. She throws up. He’s decided not to put her through any more invasive tests or surgeries so we don’t know exactly what’s wrong. I give her an assortment of meds and clean her ears. Confused by sounds, she lays on her pillow most of the time and won’t go far when we take her out. I sometimes have to check to see if she’s breathing. I sometimes cry. We get her groomed and wash the pillow often and she still has the smell of death.

But just when I think I can’t stand it any more, she has a good day–like today, she was willing to take a walk–to the end of the block.

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