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12 Saves of Christmas: Bella, #9

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Every year we countdown 12 very special adoption stories through our 12 Saves of Christmas series. Each day we will post a new adoption story on our website. Be sure to check in daily as we get closer to announcing our #1 on Christmas day.

On June 10th we welcomed our first group of pets to the ARLGP from Skiatook, Oklahoma via our rescue partner, SPACAR. On that van were two special animals with very different stories: Claire the cat and Bella the dog.

Bella met her new Maine mom before the van even arrived in Maine. A member of SPACAR fostered Bella, after Bella’s young owner passed away with her by his side. The two lived alone, and it was earth-shattering to this sweet dog to lose her human companion. Knowing Bella’s chance of adoption in an overcrowded Tulsa shelter would be rare, SPACAR asked if the ARLGP would take her on the June transport. How could we not? Bella’s foster shared the emotional story on Facebook prior to the transport’s departure, and the post happened to make it to Lisa’s screen through a mutual friend of the two. Lisa recalls knowing Bella was the one from 13 states away:

“We weren’t planning on adopting when we did, having lost – suddenly and unexpectedly – one of our dogs only a month before. Our hearts and brains were still in that tender, fragile stage of grief. The dog we’d lost was my husband’s soul dog, his sidekick and constant companion. I’d lost my own soul dog six years ago and had to have looked at thousands of dogs on-line over that time. I was certain that my heart would tell me when that face looking out from a page or screen was ’the one’. And then – kapow – there she was, in a Facebook post sent to me by a friend … a hound-y girl from Oklahoma, who was boarding a transport bound for Maine.

The no-holds-barred craziness that ensued in getting to “my” dog was fairly epic, from the numerous calls to anyone who might have information on when she would be available for adoption, to arriving at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland before 6 in the morning (doors open at 11), to the moment I first laid eyes on her. She was being walked by a volunteer, who brought her over to me, so I could say ‘hello’. She jumped right into my car, and I had to ask her to wait a few more hours.”

Adjusting to Maine and her new life has been an adventure for Bella, Lisa and their family. Now, affectionately called “Bell-ah” to reflect her Maine-ah residency, Lisa shares that Bell-ah is learning her way:

“There have been so many ‘firsts’ since I first drove up the driveway with our new family member. She’s met her new ‘sister’ – a nine-year-old princess of a German Shepherd – Blaze – who outweighs her by 50 pounds – along with our kids and family and friends (and their dogs). She’s earned the respect of Blaze, so much so that Blaze will be silly with Belle-ah (Blaze is rarely silly), and the hearts (and laughter) of the entire family and many friends. One of my favorite moments happened about six weeks ago. Belle-ah and I had driven to one of our favorite places to walk with friends and were on our way back. As I turned onto our road, Belle-ah started to get excited. Her tail was wagging, but she started to whine a bit. At first, I thought something might be wrong. But then I understood that she was recognizing we were almost home. Home. How can any of us not well up at a moment like that?”

These days, Lisa is prepping Bell-ah on the magic of Christmas and how those bones will appear the night of the 24th:

“Her stocking has already arrived, complete with her name and some dangly doggie bone decorations. I’ve explained about presents and the possibility of food falling ‘from the sky’ (and told her to be ready for it all). Somehow this little hound dog leapt off a Facebook page, then into my truck, and has become a part of our daily lives in a way that we could not have predicted, or even remotely expected. This holiday season, we will celebrate – and be grateful for – all of the people and magic that brought our silly little Dingle Belle(ah) home.”

You can follow all of Bell-ah’s adventures in Maine on Lisa’s blog, here. Check back tomorrow for Claire the Oklahoma cat and her story.