Thanks to Monika Bajor Photography for these lovely pictures from April 2013
She arrived in our house in mid-February 2003 – a frenetic ball of energy, that never stopped bouncing.
She came to us from a rescue centre aged, we think, about 8 months old.
On that drive back as she tried to climb up the dog guard and then eat it, I thought, hmmm she’s going to be a handful.
John quickly decided she must have been called Bella because it rhymed with Heller, as she tore up several dog beds, ate through at least three seat belts, chewed through leads, scratched woodwork on doors and skirting, pulled the letter box off a brand new front door.
She had strong vocal chords too. That’s another way of saying – boy, could she bark! Which she did, lots. And loudly.
Her barking was usually combined with running round and round in ever increasing circles, at full pelt, often knocking over our poor unfortunate terrier Archie should he happen to be in the way.
The only way to calm her down, even remotely, was to go on long walks. Long, looooonnnng walks. In fact, Bella is one reason I took up running. I worked out I could cover twice the ground in half the time, thus managing to at least begin to tire her out – around 16 miles usually did the trick.
She came on a fairly long walk with me that first year, when I was then working for BBC Radio Devon, and did a charity walk for the Chestnut Appeal. We covered 460 miles around the county in four weeks, broadcasting every day from a different location.
Her wild spirit was coupled with a deeply affectionate nature that was hard to resist. She’d either be pressing one of her favourite soft toys in your hand, or her wet nose.
On air and en route Bella became an instant hit with her daily antics. She loved being the centre of attention and being made a fuss of. When we reached small villages and school children lined up to pet her, she was in her absolute element.
After that walk, I was never Jo Bishop again, it was always: “Oh, you’re the walker, the one with Bella – what a great dog, how is she?”
Even here on my blog she managed to take centre stage. The Yelp for Help post “she” wrote about pinching stacks of iced buns is still my most widely read piece.
Whilst taking the limelight when she could, she was also my permanent shadow, especially in recent months, when I could literally not walk across a room without her getting up to follow.
As her mobility began to fail her, her back legs going, her eyesight and hearing too, it became more of an effort for her to tail me around the house. The older and more frail she got, the more she tried to stick to me like glue.
Short of lying down in her dog bed with her, it was hard to know how to really fulfil that level of devotion.
She became so frail and weak that I hoped she would pass away in her sleep, but she clung on tenaciously to life – still summoning the energy to behave like a puppy for a few minutes rollicking around briefly on a short slow stroll.
Her sad face at times in recent months seemed to say she’d had enough, it was time to go. Yesterday, the time seemed right.
RIP Bella. Thanks for the memories. xxxx