My Guardian Angel Has Paws
And four legs… and a tail… and whiskers… you get the picture :)
I don’t know what I would do without her. I first met Bella when she was six months old, when I was babysitting her for a close family friend. It was puppy love at first sight. We instantly bonded and having a dog around again reminded me of so many happy childhood memories, the ones that got me through the times that weren’t so happy. I babysat Bella several other times over the years, and then about two and a half years ago her former owners had to move and couldn’t take her, so I adopted her as my own.
Just about every single time we take Bella outside, someone will come up to us and compliment her beauty and her sweet demeanor. My family and I get so much joy out of seeing the joy that a simple interaction with Bella can bring to others, especially children and other vulnerable people. I took care of my grandfather who had Parkinson’s and dementia for half of my life, up until he passed away last December. Bella brought him so much comfort in his final years, and he affectionately called her “brown dog.” Sikoyahkoinaatsi imitawa is how brown dog is written in my native language- quite a mouthful, like many other words in my language.
With Bella, I’ve been able to begin to process and heal from multiple traumas in my life including an assault that almost took my life and losing two babies. I’ve been able to begin to trust myself once again to take care of both myself and others, because everyday I wake up to a sweet girl who needs me. And I need her just as much. Bella is my complex PTSD emotional support animal, and she does so many things to comfort me in my most vulnerable moments. Just one example is how she will put her big head on my chest after an panic attack, and won’t move it until I take a few deep breaths for her.
Knowing that she needs me and loves me motivates me to pursue my own emotional and physical healing more than ever, so I can be the pet parent she deserves. In addition to cPTSD, I struggle with chronic illness, and am working hard to manage it better so I can take her on more adventures.
Bella loves to explore and go on big hikes in new places, and her excitement for doing so inspires me to push past my own fears of the unknown and to once again see the world through childlike eyes filled with wonder. In my culture, we know the importance of our connection with not only other human beings but also with the land and with animals. Having Bella as my sidekick (as well as my two rescue cats who she seems to think are her babies) has taught me how to be a better communicator and listener. She has a language all her own, punctuated by her funny and dramatic noises and her non-verbal expressions that let me know if she wants food, snuggles, or to go exploring outside- or to wear a cute outfit like her bee costume, which she seems to adore. Getting to be Bella’s fur mom has changed my life for the better. She’s opened my eyes to so much about myself, and the world around me that I had long become numb to. Because of her I’m a better daughter, sister, friend, relative and mentor. She inspires me to never lose hope in both pursuing lastinf happiness and looking for the small joys in everyday life. I can’t wait to go on our next adventure together.