Jerry Nelson: Meet Bella
The recent passing of our Golden Retriever left a hole in the heart for my wife and me. Sandy might have been a dopey galoot, but he was our dopey galoot.
When I went on my suddenly dogless walks, habit would cause me to glance around to see what Sandy was doing. It was strange to perform yard work without him hanging around, watching the goings-on, wondering if a doggie treat might be involved.
It’s been said that the best way to recover from the loss of an old dog is to get a new puppy. It felt odd to have a dogless farmstead, so I decided to test the veracity of that timeworn wisdom.
The ad in our local shopper said that a certain party had seven puppies for sale. The pups were advertised as being a cross between a Springer Spaniel and a Golden Retriever, a hybrid that, according to the internet, is known as a Spangold.
Spangolds, said the internet, are intelligent, highly sociable and love to be around children. In short, they are a real “people” dog.
I made a phone call and obtained an address. I decided to drop by to “just take a look.” Nobody has ever just taken a look at baby puppies.
The pups were being raised by a family in a nearby subdivision. The litter was given the run of a two-car garage and a fenced backyard.
I rang the doorbell and was invited into the garage. Within moments, I was ankle deep in little black puppies. There were supposed to be only seven of them, but they were so frenetic it seemed like there were ten times that number.
I stood still and watched for several minutes as the torrent of puppies churned around my feet. It wasn’t long before many of them became disappointed with my lack of participation in their tomfooleries and began to seek other diversions.
All of the puppies were soon gone save for one who had lain in such a way that her chin rested on the toe of my shoe. It was truly an “aww, how cute!” moment. I somehow had the foresight to capture this on my cell phone.
That evening, I told my wife I had something to show her. She braced herself, thinking that it was bad news.
I played the puppy video for her, and she exclaimed, “Aww, how cute!”
“Do you think we can get a puppy?” I asked. The way that her eyes shone told me the answer.
“Only if we get the one who put her little chin on your foot,” she replied.
“What should we call her?”
My wife thought for a moment and said, “Bella. It means beautiful in Italian and she’s a pretty puppy.”
It has been ages since we’d had a puppy at our house. Special food had to be purchased, special teething items obtained, a supply of special toys procured. It was similar to preparing for the arrival of a human baby.
When we picked up the puppy, her human mom asked if we had selected a name. Upon learning that it was Bella, the news was shared among the members of the household who had gathered to bid the pup adieu.
Bella was a good puppy on the ride home. She got the hiccups, no doubt because she was as nervous and excited as my wife and me.
There was a hurricane of commotion when Bella arrived at our house. Once things calmed down and we got settled in, Bella decided that she needed a nap. She plopped down on the floor with her chin resting on my foot. Aww!
One forgets how fitful it is to have a puppy around. You are constantly saying such things as “No, don’t do that!” and “Where did you get that?” and “Take that out of your mouth!” It’s not unlike dealing with a toddler.
Puppies are among the most kinetic creatures on the planet. You could power a major city if you could harness the energy of one puppy. And that’s just from the tail wagging.
We soon learned that Bella likes a lot of activities. Among her favorite things is chasing her ball and bringing it back, playing tug o’ war, and chewing on anything that’s stationary.
Bella’s most favorite favorite thing is receiving tummy rubs. She would give up the nuclear launch codes in exchange for a good tummy rub.
We will never forget Sandy, and Bella will never take his place. But Bella has already taught us one lesson: sometimes, the best way to mend a broken heart is to melt it.
If you'd like to contact Jerry Nelson to do some public speaking, or just to register your comments, you can email him at email@example.com. His book, “Dear County Agent Guy,” is available at Workman.com and at booksellers everywhere.