Thursday, July 3, 2014

Grandma's Gift: Belle, 55 lbs of Muscle and Slobber

If you’ve ever read Marley and Me or A Dog Year you know that life with a dog is an adventure, especially if that dog is energetic and smart.  My new dog happens to be both.  

My grandmother passed away, leaving my family with many things, including a five-year-old boxer.  Her name is Belle and she’s gorgeous, all muscle with a golden coat and white socks.  Belle has massive jowls, which help her create quite a mess.  We’ve owned a Belgian Malinois and an Australian shepherd and we’ve never had to deal with huge amounts of slobber.  Belle is a slobberifying machine.  She puts her head in my lap, on clothes, anywhere she can, and leaves behind a glob of drool.  When Belle drinks, the water drips from her jowls as she wanders the house; when she eats, her jowls catch the food and it’s left in the middle of the kitchen floor.

That’s another responsibility that comes with being a dog owner; taking care of your dog.  Through all her faults, Belle is great to have around.  She learns easily; stay, sit, and down are commands she responds to.  She may not play fetch (we still have some training to do), but Belle does not chew anything.  Shoes and other items are safe from dog jaws, unlike our last dog, who would rip to shreds anything he could get his mouth on.  Note to basketballs: You are safe now!  

When we first brought Belle home, we introduced her to Millie (our 14 year-old Australian Shepherd).  Millie has been alive for almost as long as I have.  Belle came over to say hi and Millie’s lips curled up and back and she began to growl.  Millie was proclaiming herself queen of the castle.  For the rest of the day, Millie stood guard over her water and the mud room, and if Belle came near, Millie made sure Belle knew who was boss.  

My Mom and I went out for a run, bringing Belle along with us on the leash.  At first, Belle did not understand that if she tried to run ahead she would be choked.  Halfway Belle had matched my pace and was running alongside me with slack in the leash.  Who says only puppies can learn new tricks?

Belle is smart, a quick learner.  Not all dogs are.  Consider the dogs from Marley and me and A Dog Year.  If you love dogs and would enjoy a laugh; read these books.  Both had scenes where I was rolling around laughing.  And it reminded me of my puppy Kaiser and all the trouble he got into.  

Belle came into our lives and filled the hole which had been left Kaiser’s death, our old Belgian Malinois with his puppy heart.  When I walked in the house today, Belle came and greeted me with her ears perked up and eyes wide, and shoved her nose and slobber all over my legs.  It was gross.  But it also left me smiling, since that was what Kaiser used to do, minus the slobber part.  We thank our grandmother for this last gift. 

Welcome, Belle.