I just got the very bestest Valentine’s Day present ever—I’ve been given the love of my life, my new Mom! Up until the end of last year, I was the “property” of a puppy mill in Missouri. I can’t tell you how long I was there—the thousands of days are all just one big blur now. Most people think I am six or seven years old, which means I may have had as many as a dozen litters of puppies. I’ve lost count. I often wonder what ever became of my “kids” because they were all taken away from me before I was able to show them how much I loved them. Over time, I think I forgot how to accept and show love to others.
Then, in December, something wonderful happened…to me. I was saved by the AGA
from the back of a flatbed truck bound for Florida. There’s no telling why I was being sent to Florida, but I was pretty certain I wasn’t going on vacation to Disney World. Although I was rescued along with two younger breeder dogs—Holly and Noel, I remember being very frightened and confused at first. Who were all these people and why were they being so nice to me? Everyone at the vet started calling me Belle—and I found that odd since I didn’t think I even had a name—but I liked the “ring” of it. I was told I was going to get “fixed” and that it would hurt a little, but at least I was putting my puppy-bearing years behind me. They told me what I needed to learn was to become a true Golden and to be happy. I thought, “What exactly does that mean?”
When I met my foster family, they tried to show me what being a true Golden was by bringing me into a real home (aren’t living room carpets the best?), taking me on daily walks (school busses and sudden, loud noises will still take me some time to get used to), feeding me tasty meals and treats (yum…Nutter Butter Bites and Frosty Paws ice cream are my favorites), and giving me my own bed and crate (ahh…heaven on earth!)—all of which were first time experiences for me. Still, they left it up to me to take my time learning what this “Golden-ness” stuff was all about.
One day, my foster family took me to a dog park. It was the craziest place I’d ever seen, but I liked it a lot. All kinds of dogs running everywhere, fetching tennis balls, playing tag and—the most interesting greeting ritual—sniffing each other. I really liked that—both getting sniffed and sniffing the others. I liked it so much that a funny thing happened behind me. When I glanced back, I discovered I had a long, furry tail and it wagged from side to side so hard and fast that it gave my whole butt rhythm. Everyone who saw what my tail was doing were cheering and smiling. I remember thinking “What’s the big deal? I didn’t try to do it. My tail just wagged on its own. If it makes you that happy, maybe I’ll try to make it do it next time you pet me.”
At the dog park, I got to enter a big, white, furry cave named Rudy. I had just got my head and shoulders in the cave when it started to move. So, I just moved in the same direction the Rudy Cave moved until it moved so fast, I couldn’t stay in it. My foster family tried to tell me I had gotten completely under a Great Pyrenees dog, but I still think it was a white, furry cave.
Then, another time, my foster family took me to something called Adoption Day at the Buckhead PetSmart. At first, I couldn’t understand why there were so many people just walking around, talking to each other and visiting with the dozens of dogs there. Instead of joining in the festivities, I thought I would just find a cool piece of floor to lie down on and observe. Usually, whenever more than two people would gather, there would always be food and drinks, but only for the humans. At Adoption Day, only the dogs got treats and water to feast on—neat-o and the way it ought to be, I think!
Look, I don’t know if I believed in “love at first sight” before Adoption Day, but I do now. Out of all of the chaos of the day, there stood Katie. Of the people I met there, she was the only one that didn’t look at me and just feel sorry for what I had been though. Unlike the others, she knelt down near me, petted me, and just told me how “Golden” I was. She whispered to me that she wanted me to become part of her family. I wanted to, too. To this day, I don’t think she knows she had me at “hello.”
On a beautiful Saturday morning, my foster family took me to visit Katie at her condo in Atlanta. There, I got to go into the biggest crate I had ever seen. They called it an elevator, but I think it was just a huge crate that moved. When I walked through Katie’s front door, I thought, “Nice digs, girlfriend.” I took a tour of the place and made myself at home—lying down on the rug in front of the couch. Later, we went to Piedmont Park and guess what? They have a great dog park there, too. This was all too good to be true. But, it had to be true because my tail was wagging harder and for the longest time ever.
After our visit, on the car ride home, my foster family asked me if I wanted to adopt Katie as my new Mom and move in with her. My ears immediately stood at attention. “Are you kidding me? I sure would! You guys have been great to me, but I really love that Katie. When can I go?” I couldn’t believe my ears when they told me, “How about tomorrow?”
I don’t remember sleeping at all that night. Finally…I was getting my own Mom and a neat forever home. Well, ever since my own personal Adoption Day, February 9th, Katie and I have had a ball. Katie changed my name to Bella—which means ‘beautiful’ in Italian. We’ve gone to the dog park every day. I help Katie—albeit, telepathically—with her work on the computer. She’s arranged play-dates for me and her with her friend, Melissa, and her Golden, Norma Jean. And…Katie lets me sleep in whenever I want. Ain’t she the best? I love giving her kisses to show her how much I love her.
I guess now I know what being a true Golden really is.