April 20, 2010

Bella Changes

For the last two months I have been amazed at the changes I have been seeing in Bella. It’s almost hard to recognize her as the same dog we picked up in October.


On the day we picked her up, the only thing we knew that was “wrong” with her was that she wasn’t leash trained and she was a bit intense when she obeyed the “sit” command. (Think: sitting so intensely with her eyes huge to the point of seeing white all around her irises.)

We soon learned that she was rather scared of a lot of things. She quickly ran out of the way if we walked by with anything in our hands. She ran from any toys we offered her, especially hard plastic. If we threw something in her direction, she ran. Strangers, ran. Raised our arms, ran. Sudden noises, ran. Falling objects, ran. David’s computer on his lap, ran. You get the picture. She would run quickly at anything not done quietly and cautiously.


(Bella running from the camera after sitting nicely on my lap for the first time. - Thanksgiving weekend)

But on the other hand, she longed for and begged for attention all the time. She would sit so fiercely at our feet and we didn’t know if we should pet her or not. We were glad that she wanted our attention, but we didn’t want her always thinking she had to be so stressed about it.


(“Food please…”)

Now that it has been 6 months since we got her, we are amazed at the changes we see. We did take her to obedience training as soon as possible, if even just so we knew how to take care of her more than for her obedience.

Bella no longer runs when the pillow falls from my computer chair (every time I stand up!).

My clapping and waving of hands has become a game to the point of boredom.

Toys? Loves them. The cloth ones mostly, especially ones with squeakers! (That in and of itself was a learning curve! It was fun to hear her bark or growl at the toy after she got it to squeak, she wasn’t sure what to think!)


And walking? Walking is my favorite part. Almost two months ago something clicked in Bella and me and she is heeling so very well. After much pulling (on both ends!), yanking, crying, kicking (yes, even kicking, sigh.), choke collar, Gentle Leaders, food, bribery, and frustration, Bella and I figured out what works well for us. It wasn’t any one thing that worked a miracle but a combination of things. The two biggest ended up being the use of the Gentle leader (after I had already broken her from her extreme pulling by bribery) and switching her from my left side to my right.

It was really silly of me to wait so long in switching which side I made her walk on, Bella has always been better on the right. But in asking the trainer in obedience class about it, she said to teach Bella on the left. (Now I think she really meant that for the class I had to have Bella on the left, or dogs would be running into each other and causing problems.) Not only is Bella better on the right, and more relaxed, but my reflexes are quicker in my right arm. On top of that I realized one day that I carry all heavy/bulky objects on my left side (babies and laundry baskets) and it just makes sense to keep her on right side to free up my left.

(Pause!!! As I am writing Bella is growling and barking at something in her sleep! How funny! Go get’m Bella!)

Now all those people who have seen me walking Sheyenne St, yanking and pulling my dog around, now see us walking together side by side. And it feels good! It feels so good, that I realize it’s just a matter of time before Bella’s other issues slowly go away, and I am glad!

Bella 4

Oh, and if we walk by with something in our hands, now she follows us to find out if it might be food!

In Christ,


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