Rest in Peace Bella – Even a dog with PTSD can live a good life…

7 years ago today Bella, a golden lab/husky crossed the Rainbow bridge.
In 2003 I had found her in a rescue group in BC where she was on death row. She had been re-homed several times and had always been brought back as she was very fearful. In her fear she had become aggressive towards men.

As I was single at the time I took her on. Within a few weeks I had her comfortable around men enough that she was perfectly OK when I got married the following year.

However, she was never 100% reliable. It took a long time to find out what was scaring her. It turned out to be anything shiny! Trips to the vet were always an adventure.

I did get to the point, with her,  where she was 99.9% reliable but it was impossible to predict when she’d react badly for most of her life. Any warning signs had been abused out of her years before. It took several years before she would give me any warning signs, but they did come back, very subtly.

She was 5 when I adopted her.

Six years later I’d been married and divorced again, moved to Alberta and subsequently adopted my daughter as a single mum.

Unfortunately in September 2009 that .1% unreliability led to my being bitten. Bella didn’t mean it out of aggression; it was totally poor management on my part. However, I didn’t feel that it was safe to keep her with my daughter and her friends only being 8/9 years old, or younger, at the time.

Bella was also now 11 years of age, so my vet thought that given how well she’d been behaving for years, old age pain had probably brought back the behaviour. So 7 years ago today Bella crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

She and I sure had a fabulous 6 years though!
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This picture was taken shortly after I bought my first house in Canada and yes, that is a Ford Mustang convertible in the car port. I loved that car! So did Bella. I’d harness her in on the back seat and head off to the off leash park. She loved it!
We also had a camper van and travelled all around BC and the west coast of the US. Several trips through Oregon were spectacular.
It took a lot of hard work to train her to be the amazing dog that she became.
In the early years I would manage her behaviour very closely. We also  adopted an old, sick, husky that we brought home to die. He outlived his life expectancy by several years.
Ironically if my husband and I had them out together we spent our whole time stopping people petting in order to protect Bella, but allowing them to pet Timber. Timber was declared to be a husky but looked like a full wolf. We did get some strange looks at times.
One experience still stands out in my memory. I harnessed up both Bella and Timber in the back of the convertible and headed to the off leash park. As I pulled in a police officer came walking up and I could just see that he was itching to ticket me. He asked if my dogs were harnessed. Much to his shock I said yes, and showed him. He then stood by in bemusement as I unloaded both dogs calmly and each waited as I got the other dog, poop bags etc and put a muzzle in my pocket. He obviously saw the muzzle because he indicated it and commented on it being for Timber.
When I explained that it was for Bella he looked very confused. He then asked to pet the dogs. Again, he was very bemused when I gave him permission to pet Timber, but not Bella. Which he did, much to Timber’s enjoyment.

We headed off into the park where I let both dogs off leash. They had a blast! After a little while there were a few more people, men particularly, that I was concerned that Bella might react to if one reached out to pet her as he was carrying a shiny water bottle. So I called them both back to heel and we started our way back to the car. Both dogs still off leash.

As we got towards the car park they sat and waited as I hooked their leashes back up and then loaded them back in the car calmly and quietly. Though Timber did try to sit on Bella to get more room!
The same police man came over as I was about to leave, and jokingly asked me if I’d come and train their police dog! He said that he’d never have believed it if he hadn’t seen it for himself. That the wolf dog was the friendly one!

That was a great day!

The best part was that because he had respected my words, Bella had had a great day too. She’d had a good run and been just like any other dog, one without canine PTSD.

Today, as I write this I have Kai and Molly at my side.

Life is good with dogs!

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