jake was the dog that made me fall in love with dogs.
bella... she made me stop judging moms in the grocery store with screaming children. ok, maybe i still judged them until i had a little of my own. but i definitely stopped judging other dog owners with poorly behaved dogs.
a year after we bought our first home in north austin, we decided we needed a second dog because we were going to wait to have children. then we got pregnant nine months later. so much for that. again, i digress...
jake had only been at the shelter for three weeks when we got him. my husband and i still debate over who found bella first, but one of us saw her on the shelter website. we are such suckers. bella had been at the shelter for a long, long time. we actually think we met her on one of our trips to the shelter when we were initially thinking about a second dog and decided against it. she was super strong and pulled like crazy and we were like: absolutely not.
at the time i was on facebook and i saw this post about bella (then katie). she was on the kill list. if someone didn't adopt her she was going to be euthanized. it broke my heart. she looked like such a sweet dog. it was almost christmas and we were going to be traveling for two weeks and i knew it wasn't the right time to get a dog. i saw that someone had taken her into foster and she would be taken off the kill list. i determined that if she were still available after we got back, we would try to adopt her.
surprise, surprise... bella was still available when we returned in january. we visited her at her foster home. when we came in she wiggled her little body under a baby gate to greet us. she jumped up and licked david on the mouth. jake was in the car but part of what we had to do was have a meet and greet with the dogs together to make sure they wouldn't kill each other. we played with bella a bit and then brought jake in. they were quite indifferent to each other really. bella was endearing. we figured they'd get along just fine.
we went to the townlake shelter where we got jake to fill out the paperwork to adopt her. that's when we found out that she had been returned not once, not twice, not three times, but FOUR TIMES due to behavioral issues. some were stupid, like a mom who adopted her for her overweight son hoping he'd get some exercise. no go. dog returned. another who tried to train her for a week and then determined she couldn't learn anything. so we just assumed maybe the short term owners were idiots and there really wasn't anything wrong with bella. then we heard about another owner who returned her because she had eaten her carpet while crated. umm... that's kind of crazy. but she's crate trained, the staff at the shelter assured us.
as we were going over the paperwork, jake and bella decided to have a barking brawl complete with barred teeth and growling. david had to take one of the dogs out. i don't remember which one now. but i started getting uneasy. we ended up paying $75 for bella and taking her home with us. she was to be my birthday present that year. i forgot to mention that since jake was all playful, i had decided i wanted a snuggly dog for me. of course both dogs are daddy's dogs now, but that's besides the point.
when we first got bella home, we took her around to introduce her to her new space. david went inside the house with her while i stayed in the backyard with jake. david said when they went in, bella sat and looked up at him as if to say, "i'm a good dog, daddy. what now?"
we did alright the first few days with bella. the dogs fought frequently and bella had a few accidents in the house. something jake had never done. she chewed the corner of my living room rug. but it wasn't that bad. i caught her in time. jake seemed more irritable and we started getting concerned that we had compromised our sweet playful jake when we got bella. bella was turning out to be a lot more complicated than jake was initially and we didn't know what to do. so we called up that dog trainer from the neighborhood and decided the money was worth it. we started six weeks of training with her.
not long after, we crated the dogs and went out on a saturday night to babysit for some friends. the dogs were in a back bedroom in crates. the hall leading to the living area was gated by a baby gate. when we got back, we opened the door and there was bella. oh. fantastic. i assumed she ate the entire house. i was picturing my favorite ikea karlstad couch with stuffing everywhere. the rug ripped to shreds. dog pee ruining the laminate flooring. we walked in and to our surprise she didn't destroy anything but our front blinds. she had jumped up and taken chunks out of them (the thick plastic kind) and also took a chunk out of our windowsill. but all in all, much better than we expected.
jake, sweet puppy that he is, was still behind the baby gate we had put up even though bella had shoved her way under it so that he could have easily gotten out. we hadn't crated him, which we later learned was our first mistake. we went to the back of the house and bella's crate was still closed. so our crazy cockroach dog had wiggled her body out of the closed crate, then shoved up the baby gate, and proceeded to murder the blinds.
we called the dog trainer, who graciously came over with zip ties to reinforce the crate. as we were doing this bella nonchalantly walked back into her crate, laid down, and fell asleep. fell asleep in the crate that, just a few hours ago, she had been trying to escape like a raving lunatic dog. oh. my. goodness. what did we do.
training was a lot of work with bella. i called her my moody teenage girl (a description that sticks today). she was terrible on the leash. very dog reactive. jake would always just whine at other dogs barking behind fences on our walk. bella wanted to murder them and anything in her path, and our sweet jake started turning into her. i remember one day i was walking them and i ended up having to wrestle bella to the ground and stick my fingers around her lower jaw and scream NO BITE! NO BITE! while a car was driving by. that was when i stopped judging other dog owners. ha.
dog walks were miserable and they used to be my most favorite thing to do. i was so saddened by this turn of events. but with a lot of hard work and excellent instruction from our dog trainer, we slowly rehabilitated bella and began to appreciate her personality more. our moody teenage girl. she's definitely a snuggler. she also has a high prey drive. when the dog wants something, she will destroy anything in her path to get it. she's killed many a bird, squirrel, and baby bunny. *tear* but she knows she's part of our pack now and she sticks by us.
we thought jake would be better with the baby, but surprisingly bella is! jake will tolerate her for a bit but then gets grumpy and walks away. bella will just lay there any take the incessant tail pulling and fur gripping. she was our furry boppy pillow when sabina was little little.
so all that to say. we love our bella. she may be a moody teenage girl, but she is OUR moody teenage girl. and for our second christmas card, our dog trainer did a photoshoot for us to showcase our family that had grown from three to four. by the time we sent these out, we were on our way to becoming a family of five.