Belle Was a Great Dog. But She Had a Mind of Her Own

By Joe Darby

I’m sure you dog lovers have had a dog that was basically a really great canine, but truly had a mind of its own. Yeah? Me too. And her name was Belle.

When we still lived in the New Orleans area and Bouse had passed away (I told you all about Bouse last week), Mary and I decided we did not want a dogless house any more, so we went to the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter to look for a four-legged companion.

Belle caught our eye right away. She was a pointer mix, medium sized and just as sweet as she could be. Her story was that she had lived in a trailer park but was always getting out and rummaging through everybody’s garbage, so her owners decided they could no longer handle her.

That didn’t seem to pose a problem for us. We had a single-family house and there weren’t any exposed garbage cans in the neighborhood.

Even on the ride home from the shelter, Belle seemed to have become part of the family. I looked at her sitting on the back seat of the car and she was just as relaxed as she could be. “When do we get to our house?” she seemed to be saying.

Belle was all we could have wanted in a dog. Until the first time somebody left the front door open. She bolted through it like a prisoner escaping from jail. Yes, it was true. Belle was a runner!

And not just a runner. Once outside, she just really didn’t want to come back home. We’d call to her, clap our hands, offer her food, etc. But when we approached her, she just ran further away. Two busy street were not far away and we were afraid she’d end up getting hit by a car.

But a car proved to the remedy in getting Belle back in our custody. What we had to do was to get in the car, drive close to Belle, open the door and say, “Want to go for a ride?” about three or four times. She’d end up deciding that a ride might be fun, so she come and jump into the vehicle.

And this happened a lot. If a visitor came to the door and we opened it, Belle would scoot on out. If the water deliveryman brought his big five-gallon bottles in, Belle would pass him on her way out. You get the picture.

Thankfully, we always managed to recapture her and she was never hurt by a car. You’ll recall I said at the beginning of the column that she was basically a great dog, though, and she was.

It’s not like she wasn’t happy with us. She loved us and she showed it. She liked to jump up in my lap while I kicked back in my recliner, turn over on her back and take a nap on top of me. If she was out somewhere with Mary on a leash and she saw me approaching from down the street, she would jump straight up about four or five feet, for the sheer joy of seeing me coming.

On Saturday mornings, when Mary and I got to sleep in, we’d call to Belle in her nearby doggie bed and say, “Belle, come” She’d immediately jump on our bed, walk up to me and flop down on my chest, looking up at me and Mary with loving eyes.

The girl was crazy about us She just couldn’t help it that she was a wanderer, I suppose.

We still had Belle when we moved to Natchitoches in 2006 but we weren’t up here very long before she, like so many other of our dogs, developed a rare problem. She had a spine problem that paralyzed her back legs. She could only move by dragging herself around and she lost control of her bowels and bladder. You can guess what we had to do. So we lost another great dog.

All of these wonderful canines that I’ve told you about in the last three weeks are part of my life’s great memories. What a terrific addition they have been to the joys I’ve add on earth!