I have always loved animals; I grew up with an assortment of pets and always thought I might end up working in a zoo one day. Though that dream never came to fruition, I did teach high school for a while, which is pretty much a zoo in it of itself. But I digress…
Suffice to say, my husband and I immediately added a dog to our family once we were married. Now, I may be bias, but this was no ordinary dog…this was Bellaroo, our sweet, stubborn, assertive, wire-haired, scraggly and scrappy Drahthaar.
Just a Boy & His Dog
At a time when circumstances were changing and Wildland Man was just a boy in Middle School, a litter of Drahthaars, a German versatile hunting breed, was born. In this litter, was an ornery little girl with an independent attitude and the name of a Disney princess. Almost instantly, Belle’s little runt of a body and spunky demeanor stole my man’s heart. And as they say, the rest was just a boy and his dog…
Ten years later, we get married, move to the country and build a kennel so that Belle can live with us, as an outdoor dog and huntin’ buddy. At first, Belle was my husband’s dog that I took running once in awhile. And she was a terrible running partner, never keeping pace with me, fully distractible by cats, squirrels, raccoons, deer, etc. She absolutely did not know her own strength; I swear she could practically pull my shoulder out of socket when she got on scent after something!
A career change allowed us to spend more quality time with Belle, and at the ripe old age of 13, I decided to teach our old dog some new tricks—i.e. housetraining. She did incredibly well and we loved the bonding that took place by having her in our home with us all the time. I always loved Belle, but it was in her last years that I grew incredibly close to her. She never left my side in the house and kept me company the first summer that my husband left to fight wildfires. As she aged, her temperament settled and she lived for affection from us.
Two years later, at the age of 15, our Belles’ quality of life began to deteriorate and in her pain and suffering, we decided it was time to make the most difficult decision any pet owner has to face, to put her down. It was heart wrenching and relieving all at the same time.
All I Ever Really Needed to Know in Life, I Learned from My Dog
Though it has been almost four years since we laid our Bellaroo to rest, she still lives on in our memories and hearts. And as I was thinking about our sweet girl, I realized…our pets teach us so much about life, if we will just stop to pay attention.
And so, it is with great joy that I share with you, the life lessons Belle taught us over the years:
- Never pass up an opportunity to go hunting (she was a hunter’s best friend at heart)! Spend time outside every day…run, play, lie in the sun and soak it all in. Belle often reminded me to slow down and enjoy my time outdoors.
- Go hard or go home. Don’t do anything with mediocrity. This girl was a crazed hunting dog when she was out with Wildland Man. She never quit and was always going a mile a minute. One of the best, for sure.
- Chase your dreams. Ok, this is funny, because Belle would often move her legs as if running while she was asleep…we’re pretty certain she was chasing rabbits in her dreams. So, while she may have been chasing bunnies, the message still works for us–chasin’ dreams!
- Never pass up an opportunity to snuggle. Make the choice to be in the moment and show affection to those you love most in this life. Belle was an aggressive, go-getter hunting dog, but man did she love to be loved on. She just wanted attention and affection. And she sought it out any chance she got. This is probably one of the things I miss most about having her around.
- Be aggressive for the things you want in life and have the courage to stand up for yourself. Belle was kind of the runt of the litter, but she was scrappy and she certainly didn’t let that define her. She’d take on anything that was in between her and the object of her affection.
- Exercise daily. Go for a run…feel the wind against your face and your lungs burning for more oxygen. Feel alive. Every day of your life. Move. Feel alive.
- Make your own rules in life. Alright, so, we may have been pushovers when it came to Belle, but she did what she wanted, how she wanted to and on her own terms. And I think that’s a positive lesson to us all!
- Never pass up good food! Belle rarely got anything but her usual dog food, but when she was allowed special treats or even a table scrap, she never questioned what it was and was all about trying it. That girl would even pick blackberries off a bush and eat them!
- Sleep is crucial. Get enough…take naps. 🙂
- Never lose excitement for this life you’ve been given. Always stay young at heart. Don’t let your age define you! Even at the age of 15, Belle would still act like an excited little puppy. She never, ever lost her spunk.
- Be fearless. Our sweet gal was a brave one, never one to shy away from anything.
- Protect those you love. Drahthaars are known to be a very protective breed and Belle definitely lived up to that stereotype.
- Remain loyal. Belle and Wildland Man bonded from her very first days and even in years when he was away in college, she always pulled back from others and gravitated toward him when he came home.
- Love unconditionally and love until the very end. Forgive easily and don’t hold grudges. Probably one of the greatest lessons we can learn from our dogs is their ability to love unconditionally. They don’t hold grudges, they love their owners–faults and all, and they cherish affection from us. They teach us so much about love and forgiveness.
- And finally…just walk beside me and be my friend.
If you have a dog, I’m sure you can relate to this post and you would probably agree that having pets in our lives make us better people. So, in honor of our Belle, would you be sure to show your four-legged family member a little TLC today…do your best to not take them for granted, because they won’t be there forever.
If you are not a dog owner, may you at least take some life lessons from our Bellaroo with this post. Live each day as if it were your last, be affectionate toward your loved ones, and strive to love unconditionally.
Thank you for allowing me to share our sweet Belle with you. We miss her dearly, but know that we are better off for having had the opportunity to have her in our lives as long as we did.
Be Still & Know…