Monday, July 29, 2013


I had a lovely companion for 9 and a half years.  Our lives together ended yesterday when Belle died in her sleep at home.

I'm writing this because I need to say the things I'm not saying.  I'm writing this because I fear I will forget her.  The feel of her coat.  The inquisitive wet nose.  The slight lift of her ears when she heard her name.

I guess she had been sick for a while.  Other people seemed to see it easier than I did, but I just couldn't accept that she might leave me so soon.  Somehow I had gotten in my head that she would last until 10 years.  That I would get the long decline of health, sight, and hearing I had seen in other dogs.  It didn't happen that way, and I was blind to it.  I wanted to be there for her.

Belle was very special to me.  Right after college I researched how to get a Great Pyrenees, a breed I knew well from childhood when I could go and play with one in the neighborhood.  I'm also told my favorite cartoon as a child was Belle & Sebastian, about a young boy named Sebastian and his adventures with Belle, a Great Pyrenees.  I knew when I graduated that I wanted a dog and I wanted a Pyrenees.

When she arrived at the airport, I had only had a few old photographs of her as a very young puppy. They brought out a dog in a crate and told me to sign for her.  I looked the crate and saw a beagle.  A while and brown beagle.  I suddenly had visions of a breeder that had lied to me about the dog I was getting.  Fortunately before I could drive home with my new beagle companion, another family complained that their beagle had been turned into a Pyrenees puppy.

I brought her home after that and she was a terror.  Never underestimate a dog that will grow to 95 lbs as a puppy.  She would knock into things, jump up on people and generally be a nuisence.  But I loved her.

One time in particular, I was making biscuits to bring to a dinner at a friends house.  I had put a batch in the oven and was going to do one more.  I walked out of the kitchen after placing the unheated log of dough on the stove.  I turned back almost instantly, but belle already had 3 quarters of the thing down her throat.

So yes, she was not always easy to live with (especially in the 2 bedroom downtown apartment in Seattle), but she was always loving.  She loved to get up on the couch when I was sitting there and just lie down next to me.  She love to snuggle with me on the bed and beg for belly rubs when I was trying to go to sleep.

Other things she liked to do included barking, surveying her lands from a high vantage point, and chewing furniture.

As she got older, she and I learned how to live together.  Towards the end the only things we disagreed on were how much the gardeners were  to be trusted (NONE said she) and if I should ever pack a suitcase again.

One thing I always found endearing about her was her lifetime ability to chase her tail.  She had the most gorgeous long fluffy white tail that would whip around like a fan an catch lots of wind.  Because of this she could sometimes catch her tail in the corner of her eye, and then it was off to the races! She would spin and spin and spin in circles trying to grab that tail.  She almost always caught it to.  When she was a puppy she would gleefully chomp down on that white fluffy tail and give a little start.  When she was older she would just chew a little on the fur at the ends.

She was my companion every day of our time together.  Even when we were not together physically I would think about her often.  I almost always worried about her while I was gone, and several times considered getting an internet-enabled camera so I could make sure she was doing okay while I was out.  She gave me so much love and devotion.  She was so gentle with everyone, at least once she wasn't a puppy, and she loved being with people.

I always knew a day like yesterday would come.  I always knew that one day I would be standing and she wouldn't.  I always thought that I would be with her, that I could help her through that time.  I thought I would have more time.  She gave me companionship and love for 9 and a half years, when others left me, she stayed and was unconditionally happy.

My grief process is just starting with her.  I know that I will miss her for the rest of my life.  As rational-science driven person, I don't believe she lives on.  But as a human being, as a dog owner, as the human father of Belle.  I hope she is out there stealing dough and lying on couches just watching people.  I hope she is jumping on unsuspecting women in the street and pulling their tops down.  I hope she's chewing through couches and making people buy entire trucks for her.  I hope she gets to run in a wide open park and have all the bacon treats she wants.

Belle, I miss you.

To my friends that knew my friend and companion.  If you can remember anything about her, good or bad, I would really appreciate anything you care to write.