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Monday, May 10, 2010

Belle of the Ball, Shoe and Bra

The best looking, sweetest creature I know is Bella, my yellow Labrador Retriever. Please note I did not say "best behaved."

Bella is her "call" name. Her full registered name is Top Honors Belle of the Ball. She is canine royalty–a princess sired by BIS BISS Am Can CH Boradors Alligator Shoes JH, officially designated as the no. 1 Lab in the US for 2000. Her mother, Quintessential Caper, though not a champion herself, has an elegant bearing, an uncommonly pretty face and a pedigree boasting five generations of champions. We had to request Bella's adoption before she was born because puppies with pedigrees like Bella's go very quickly. Top Honors Kennel, where she was born, is in North Carolina, so we couldn't even see Bella other than in photographs for eight weeks because she needed to be with Caper. Her breeder told us that she matched Bella with us because she was fearless. The breeder, or " the food lady," as she was known to the pups, said Bella's littermates were too skittish to live in New York.

When finally weaned, the breeder put Bella in a crate and shipped her to New York. The princess flew cargo. However, it was special cargo (for princesses). The food lady trained Bella for her solo flight. She practiced with Bella by placing her in the crate and leaving her in it for increasingly longer periods so that she would not be traumatized when it actually happened. She needn't have done even this though. Bella is truly not afraid of anything.

Bella flew up to New York all by herself. I picked her up at Kennedy Airport's special cargo area. When I opened her crate, she came galloping out and leaped into my arms. Thirteen pounds of puppy kissed me all over with her long, wet, soft pink tongue. White as snow, she looked like a fur-covered basketball. She was soft and sleek. In fact, she looked more like a baby seal than a puppy. She had no doggy odor. Her scent was fresh as spring air, except for her oversized paws which smelled exactly like Fritos. It was puppy love at first sight. She could not stop kissing and nuzzling me the entire ride home from JFK. And that was the last time she was nice to me for the next two years.

PUPPYHOOD: Our relationship quickly deteriorated from love at first sight to love at first bite. After she rested from her long journey, Bella immediately set about trying to establish dominance over her new litter mate--me. She loved "play" fighting with me. That's how puppies entertain themselves in the litter. The only trouble was that I have a much softer hide than her original littermates and therefore sustained multiple wounds about my feet, ankles, hands, forearms and face from her sharp little puppy teeth–not to mention torn clothing and broken eyeglasses. She probably thought she was pretty scary because I never bit back.

Bella also liked roughhousing. Like Tina Turner singing "Proud Mary," Bella didn't do anything nice and easy, she did things nice and rough. She galloped around, crashing into things and breaking them. She chewed everything she came upon--doors, furniture, shoes (Pradas were her favorites because the leather was deliciously soft.) She instructed my cat on shredding upholstery and rugs more efficiently.

I was quite smitten with her anyway and brought her with me everywhere, sometimes with disastrous results. On weekends away, even though by this time she was fully house trained, Bella invariably chose to conduct her business inside our host's house. One weekend she had so many in-house "accidents" that when Bella "woofed" to go inside, our host asked, "Why does she want to go inside? Does she need to relieve herself?" When visiting other friends, Bella reduced their children to tears by systematically puncturing and deflating every one of their pool floats and toys. As if that were not enough, she terrorized their dog, a hyperactive and nervous terrier who spent the entire weekend in a kitchen cabinet, hiding from Bella.

I hired a personal trainer for Bella and enrolled her in canine charm school. She was an excellent student learning all of her lessons quickly and performing them perfectly, with a "ho-hum-big-deal- give-me-the-reward look" on her face. When she finished her performance, all canine pandemonium broke loose. A cacophony of growls, barks, snorts, and fang-bearing lunges from Bella's classmates accompanied us back to our seat. Unbeknownst to me, Bella had been flashing intimidating looks at her classmates on the sly as we passed by. When the trainer investigated, Bella put on her sweet, innocent "who me" face. Though an excellent student, Bella did not change her attitude and after a while we were not invited back to classes.

I could live with most of Bella's transgressions, but one day she crossed the line. I could see that she had a small live bird in her mouth. Labs have "soft" mouths, so I knew the bird would be all right if I could extract it. I approached Bella in a casual manner with a dog cookie in my hand and offered a trade. Bella sensed what I had in mind and, rather than relinquishing the bird, she simply swallowed it whole. Then she demanded the cookie.



  1. This is all a frame.....
    I know Bella better than anyone and she wouldn't have done or said any of this.Bella is innocent.
    This owner is a wacko!!!

    Consigliori d'Bella

  2. Love your story about Bella. Hope she is doing as well as the story.

  3. Very Funny. Love it!