Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas to all!

All of us here at Bringing up Bella would like to wish you and yours a very happy Christmas. Thank you for following our adventures with the crazy dog. Here's to a bright and brilliant 2014!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

'Twas the night before Christmas...

And Bella was wondering if she was going to be on Santa's naughty or nice list. What do you think?


Or nice?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

How to get on Santa's "Naughty" list (video)

The Christmas cards were stacked by my work-desk with care,
in hopes that a coffee break would find time to spare...

I was working.

Bella was bored.

The cards were tempting.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas card photo-shoot 2013 - The Outtakes

I'm afraid I don't have an abundance of outtakes to share this year. Bella's getting to be such a good model that the only real problem we have remaining in our photo-shoots is that I can't see worth a darn to focus the camera.

Still, this year's Christmas card photo-shoot was extra fun for a two reasons: 1) I got to trash the house (before putting it back together) and "blame" it on the dog and 2) Jan got to see just how good Bella is at modeling for me these days.

Usually Bella and I go off somewhere to do our photo sessions. I'm not sure why (probably the shock and horror at seeing what our living room looked like pre-dog) but Jan decided to hang around this time. I put him to work being 'the treat guy'. That definitely helped me out because it allowed me to get some shots of Bella where she's not looking right at me (a photography hazard of teaching the "look" command.)

When we wrapped the shoot and I was cleaning up, I overheard Jan cooing and coddling our little super model sounding rather amazed at just how good she was when asked to stay, look, and pose.

He was impressed and I was proud.

Still, I did find a few outtakes of Bella not looking her most lovely and elegant. Enjoy!

You're going to blame this mess on me, aren't you?
Yes, yes, that's very funny. Blame the dog. Har har har.
I can't see you.
Maybe if I look drunk you'll stop doing this to me.
Is this the pose you want, Daddy?
Am I doing it right?
Can I have that treat now?
Is that tree going to land on my head?
I'm not sure this one really qualifies as an outtake. Still, I wanted to include it because she's just
so. darn. cute.
Oh and for the record, yes, yes I did totally decorate the house and wrap Christmas presents in the middle of November only to trash everything and then put it all back together again. I don't know where I got the idea I had an abundance of free time that wouldn't be better served by doing something other than decorating the house multiple times and wrapping 'pretend' presents. (It actually was kind of fun though. :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Meet the Blogger blog hop 2013

Welcome to the Meet the Bloggers blog hop 2013!

So these bloggers walked into a bar... Uh wait, no, that's not right...

A few blogger friends were talking one day and realized we wouldn't recognize each other if we ran headlong into each other at a bar. Er, wait, that's not quite right either.

Well, some bloggers finally realized there aren't any pictures of us on our blogs and in an attempt to "peek behind the curtain", a blog hop was born! A blog hop designed specifically to reveal the true identities of the hard-working individuals who bring these marvelous musings of petted bliss (uh - our pet blogs) to life.

Meet the Pet Bloggers HopThe "Meet the Bloggers" blog hop is being hosted
by the following bloggers:

Amy from Go Pet Friendly
A.J. from I still Want More Puppies
Jodi from Kol's Notes
Dawn from NEPA Pets
Jennifer from My Brown Newfies
Jodi from Heart Like a Dog
Julie from The Daily Dog Blog
Kim from Cindy Lu's Muse
Kristine from Rescued Insanity
Lauren from Life With Desmond
Leslie from Bringing up Bella
Mel from No Dog About It
Peggy from Peggy's Pet Place
It's not too late to join in the fun - all you need to do is:

Write a post that includes the following:
Uh, mom? Wat'chu smoking? Can I have some?
1. A current photo of the blogger.

Sorry, it's the best I could do.
The remote controller I ordered for my camera came after I suffered some indignity to my face this weekend due to a disagreement I had with a tree so a more current picture will not be forth-coming. This is from 11/16/2013 so it's about as current, if kind of silly, as I have.
2. Answers to at least five, (but more if you'd like!) of the following questions:
(FTR, I know that as soon as I hit the "publish" button, I am going to think of a million things I left out, a few thousand better answers and "just the right" thing to say. Oh well.)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Black & White Sunday - Oh those ears!

Day 15: Win durable Unbreakoball dog toys in the Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers Giveaway Event It's time for the Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers hosted by Kol's Notes, Heart Like a Dog, My Brown Newfies, My GBGV Life & Bringing Up Bella! 24 giveaways in 24 days, plus a grand prize worth more than $500 - who wants to win? Today's giveaway is sponsored by Unbreakoball. You could win durable, practically indestructible dog toys for your dog. Click here to check out the Advent Calendar and enter today's giveaway!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

On the 12th day of Advent dog sponsors give to you...

Kol's Notes Advent Calendar for Dog LoversWelcome to the Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers hosted by Kol's Notes, Heart Like a Dog, My GBGV Life, My Brown Newfies & Bringing Up Bella!

Every day between now and December 24th, we’ll be giving away great prizes. And every time you enter to win a daily prize, you’ll be entered to win our fabulous Grand Prize Package worth more than $800 featuring gifts from each of our 24 fantastic sponsors!

Today's sponsor is Who I Am, I Am: T Shirts for Dog Lovers!

Show the world your dog-love with these cute dog themed t-shirts. Created by dog lover Gillian Rogers, these simple shirts feature line art dog drawings and adorable one liners like "it's how I roll", "mon petite amour", and "shed a little love".

Gillian's designs (and her blog, Life with dogs) is inspired by the three dogs in her life Bunny, Chippy and Oopla.

The lightweight T Shirts are 100% US Made (and Gillian says they always will be), with designs printed on cotton shirts in eco-friendly inks.

Dedicated to giving back, at least 10% of profits are be donated to charities involved in dog rescue, spay and neuter, stopping puppy mills and those dedicated to placing dogs into the homes of victims of emotional trauma, such as Veterans, victims of abuse, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and people with Autism.

Who I Am, I Am is giving away two of their signature t-shirts!



Made in the U.S., now and always.
Today's winner will receive a Love Thy Neighbor t-shirt (in their choice of size).  And our Grand Prize winner will receive a Guardian Angels shirt.  Check out all the t-shirt designs at the Who I Am, I Am website and leave a comment below telling us which design is your favorite.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesday 115 - Light in Winter

Win gorgeous, durable recycled glass PawNosh bowls in the Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers Giveaway Event It's time for the Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers hosted by Kol's Notes, Heart Like a Dog, My Brown Newfies, My GBGV Life & Bringing Up Bella! 24 giveaways in 24 days, plus a grand prize worth more than $500 - who wants to win?

Today's giveaway is sponsored by PawNosh. You could win a beautiful, durable recycled glass dog bowl.

Monday, December 9, 2013

It's time to come out of the closet: Announcing the "Meet the Bloggers"Blog Hop

Meet the Pet Bloggers HopSo here's a fun little tidbit I've been meaning to share since I attended the BlogPaws conference in May. I was standing, er, kneeling there petting Ricochet from NEPA Pets while his owner Dawn talked to Jodi from Kol's Notes and none of us recognized each other.

(And yes, yes I was actually petting the dog instead of introducing myself to the humans, because, let's face it, that's how I roll.  However, I'm pretty sure Dawn was in my corner on this approach.)

It wasn't until Jodi Stone from Heart Like a Dog came by and recognized me that we all realized we actually "knew" each other, we just didn't recognize the human faces.

Truth: If you are a pet blogger and I meet you and your dog on the street, I will undoubtedly recognize your dog. I will probably know his/her name, their favorite toy, date of birth and pet peeves but I will probably not know your name.

This is true of most interactions at dog parks today so maybe not all that unusual. The big difference is, unlike if I met you at the dog park, if you're a blogger and we bump into each other one day, I probably won't even recognize your face.

Recently, I've been privy to some conversations lately where a remarkable number of pet bloggers I know have all come to realize we spend a lot more time behind the camera than in front of it.

This was not always true for me.

When I was growing up, my dad was an aspiring photographer always in need of a subject. And what better subject than your kid who has to do what you say because, well, they're your kid. I grew up in front of a camera. But what I most remember from these photo-journalistic outings was the time I spent alone with my dad.

We would go to parks and hike through the woods or climb on the rocks along the Rhode Island coast. Just me and him. And a camera.

And then, when I got the first dog of my adulthood, Beau, my dad came up with this great idea to take a picture of me and Beau together pretty much in the same pose every month for the first year of Beau's life. 14 years later when I had to help my big beautiful boy cross over The Bridge, those photos were a treasure I could never have expected.

And I admit, when I look at those photos, I don't just see how unspeakably cute Beau was as a puppy. I see me in them as well. A younger me who was just beginning to find her way in the world. I see the adoration in my eyes for my chubby, wiggly puppy. And I see the early formation of a bond that grew to be unlike any other in my life.

Now that my father has passed on as well, I can't help but wish someone had had the forethought to take pictures of me and him every year while I was growing up. Because, while there are dozens of pictures of me growing up, there are only a few of me with my dad.

There are even fewer of me and Bella since my dad hasn't been here to take them.

I need to figure out how to take more pictures of me and Bella together. I'm hardly invisible on the blog - I'm in plenty of videos and all the old photos I share that my dad took. But there aren't any pictures that put me and Bella together and I plan to change that. I have two weeks to figure out how.

Why do I only have two weeks? Because, on December 18th, a bunch of bloggers are hosting a "Meet the Blogger" Blog Hop and you're invited.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Black & White Sunday: Paying attention

Enter to win prizes from FelliPet It's time for the Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers hosted by Kol's Notes, Heart Like a Dog, My Brown Newfies, My GBGV Life & Bringing Up Bella! 24 giveaways in 24 days, plus a grand prize worth more than $500 - who wants to win? Today's giveaway is sponsored by FelliPet. You could win stylish pet products for your modern home.

Click here to check out the Advent Calendar and enter today's giveaway!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Follow up Friday and Day 6 of the Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers Event

Once again we're joining Heart Like a Dog's Follow up Friday blog hop. Thank you Jodi, for inviting us all to join the hop that "lets you wrap up the week and leads you right into the weekend."

We only have one update here tonight but it's a pretty big deal: Our auction has ended and we have a winner!

In case you aren't following us on Facebook, we announced Monday night that our auction for the black diamond paw print pendant ended successfully and we have a winner. The necklace is on its way to a new owner who we hope will enjoy it and wear it with pleasure.

The auction raised $102.50 USD and we promised to double match the amount. So Save a Sato will be receiving a donation of $307.50. in the next couple of days. Just in time for Christmas.

We hope it helps and thank everyone for Tweeting and sharing and pinning and bidding. Please know you did an amazing thing for the dogs in Puerto Rico who are in so much need of care and a kind hand.

Thank you. You have made my holiday.

Win handcrafted, whimsical collars & leashes from K9 Bytes in the Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers Giveaway Event It's time for the Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers hosted by Kol's Notes, Heart Like a Dog, My Brown Newfies, My GBGV Life & Bringing Up Bella! 24 giveaways in 24 days, plus a grand prize worth more than $500 - who wants to win? Today's giveaway is sponsored by K9 Bytes. You could win a hand crafted whimsical leash & collar set. Click here to check out the Advent Calendar and enter today's giveaway!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

This and That Thursday and Advent Calendar Day 5!

The Pet Blogger Gift Exchange

Last year, one of the sweetest holiday gifts I received was a post written by Kristine from Rescued Insanity.

I had been following Kristine and her adventures with Shiva for a long time on Twitter so her kind words and her most gracious "Loyalty Award" were a balm to my wounded holiday spirit.

That post and the social media love that came with it were the brain-child of Pamela from Something Wagging This Way Comes. Her idea of the "Pet Blogger Gift Exchange" where bloggers are paired up to give the gift of social affection to other bloggers is so unique only other bloggers would really get it.

And yet this year, I really didn't think I had it in me to commit to one. more. thing.

I'm glad I got over it and at the last minute signed up to participate. I was immediately matched with "Our Four-Legged Family" which features the very handsome canine Diggs as well as a beautiful kitty named Isis.

I now have the holiday task of getting to know these four-leggers and their family better and couldn't wish for a more lovely way to spend my holiday. If you haven't met them yet, hop on over to say hello. Diggs just had minor surgery and I know his Momma could use some words of commiseration.

The Blogville Christmas Card Exchange

'Tis also the season for the Blogville Christmas Card Exchange and we have been so smitten with all the cards and eGreetings we've been receiving. All our cards were sent out earlier this week so hopefully it's raining er, snowing Bella across the globe at this time. For those who didn't join in the fun, don't worry, we'll have lots of out-takes and the cards to share later this month.

The Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers Event

Finally, today is Day 5 of the Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers. Today is sponsored by Dog Lover Gift Baskets and is absolutely a dream-come-true for any dog lover. You do not want to miss entering this one.

Win dog-centric gifts from Dog Lover Gift Baskets in the Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers Giveaway Event It's time for the Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers hosted by Kol's Notes, Heart Like a Dog, My Brown Newfies, My GBGV Life & Bringing Up Bella! 24 giveaways in 24 days, plus a grand prize worth more than $500 - who wants to win?

Today's giveaway is sponsored by Dog Lover Gift Baskets. You could win dog-centric gift basket for pups & people. Click here to check out the Advent Calendar and enter today's giveaway!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wordy Wednesday - The Advent Calendar edition

Hi friends,

We'll get to the picture part of what is usually "Wordless" Wednesday in just a moment. But first I wanted to let you all know we've joined Kol's Notes fabulous holiday event: The Advent Calendar for Dog Lovers Giveaway Event.

24 giveaways in 24 days with a final grand prize valued at over $800!

This is some serious swag that you do not want to miss. So be sure to follow the link below the break to enter today's giveaway. If you missed any of the previous days, you can still enter to win them as well.

And now without further ado, the obligatory cute Bella picture:

Don't panic - it does not look like this around here yet this year.
It just seemed a fitting photo for announcing the Advent Calendar.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sometimes she snuggles...

In the comments of our Black & White Sunday: A Sunny Spot post, Pamela from Something Wagging This Way Comes asked why I was taking pictures and not cuddling up behind Bella to enjoy the sunny spot with her.

I guess I need to let you all in on a little secret: Bella doesn't really do snuggles.

I came home tonight to Jan telling me Bella hurt his feelings today because, while she was snoozing on the bed, he laid down next to her and she promptly got up and left. I tried to console him with the fact that this happens to me on a regular basis. A seriously regular basis.

Such is our life.

Selfies are a particularly unimpressive enterprise.

Bella will choose to snuggle on her own terms. And when she does, it is like capturing the most wonderful treasure. It's your birthday, Hanukkah and Christmas all rolled into one five minute extravaganza of affection. It doesn't happen often so you relish and cherish it when it does.

But for the past week, Bella has been sneaking into bed with us at night. And I say 'sneaking' because she waits until we are asleep (or so she thinks) in the wee hours of the morning and hops up on the end of the bed. She settles in between us usually pressing her body against one or the other's legs.

Of course, the slightest quiver from one of us and she is out of the room like a shot. So, for however long she chooses to grace us with her presence, I lie immobile, holding my breath and begging my achy, twitchy body to stay still for just a little while longer. Inevitably, something spooks her, or she just decides she needs to move around, and she gets down and lumbers over to her own bed by my side.

Every day I have had her in my life, I have touched her briefly when she comes to her bed. Just to let her know I'm here - not to pester her or smother her - just a touch to say "I'm here. You're safe. You're mine."

No, she may not be a snuggly dog. But when she offers you just a bit of herself, it is a gift beyond all measure.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Follow-up Friday w/a Reminder about the Diamond Paw Print Pendant auction

I've got a few weeks of posts to follow up on here so let's get right to it, shall we?

Honey, I broke the dog
I really wanted to thank everyone for their input on this. At best I was thinking maybe I'd learn I wasn't the only one this ever happened to. Hearing so many folks talk about similar experiences, possible solutions and even just brainstorming ideas was more than I could have hoped for. There were so many good comments and suggestions that I had to start writing them down so I wouldn't forget to follow up on them.

KB from Romping and Rolling in the Rockies' note seemed to ring truest for us: "I wonder if, in Bella's excitement to see you, she gets hypersensitivity of certain nerves. I know that this type of "hypersensitivity" can happen. It's essentially the body's way of lowering the threshold of a nerve so it fires more easily." When 24 Paws of Love concurred with that assessment from personal experience, it became the opinion we decided to pursue first.

KB suggested we 'tone down' my welcome home which is also what our trainer recommended. It's a good idea but a little complicated to pull off. See, I greet Bella the same way every day. Bella, on the other hand, greets me with more or less enthusiasm depending on her mood. (And she is one moody puppy as we know...)

But I am working on moderating my greeting so that, regardless of Bella's mood, I don't play in to any over-excitement on her part. Cross your fingers.
Don't It Make My Black Dog Brown
Bella has almost finished shedding for this year and between that and adding a little salmon oil and some kelp into her meals, she's not quite as blonde as she was a few weeks ago. She's still nowhere near as dark black as she used to be but at least Carolyn has stopped calling her "Blondie". Crystal from So Fly: My Life with Flyball Dogs made me feel a lot better after recounting the story of a dog she grew up with doing this as well.

Still we'll have Bella's thyroid checked next time she's in the vet's office just to keep an eye on things. Otherwise, it might just be time to realize our little girl is growing up and maturing. Le sigh.
Beautiful Black Diamond Necklace - Auction Starts Now!
Well, the auction is off and running. Thank you to everyone who has jumped in sharing the post or bidding on the pendant. It's only at $79.00 now which is a really good deal for a diamond necklace. The auction runs until Monday at 9:38 PM EST so there's still plenty of time to get in on the action. You can bid on it here!

And remember, 100% of the proceeds (plus a double match!) will be donated to Save a Sato so it's a total win-win. Pretty black pendant for you. Pretty green papers for them.
And finally, I learned in the comments of our Wordless Wednesday post, that Deanna and Day-Z from Deanna Time are in a contest to win a "Dream Dog Park". She made a great video for her entry and you can vote for them by clicking here. If you have a moment, go check out the video - it's definitely worth the 2 minutes of your time.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Not Entirely Wordless Wednesday 113 - Happy Thanksgiving!

Bella, Jan and I would like to wish all our friends here in the States a very happy Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. May you be surrounded by family and friends and lots of love. And we want to wish our friends who are not here in the States a rather lovely Thursday also filled with family, friends and lots of love.

Thank you all for your friendship and support over the years. We have much to be thankful for, not the least of which is every one of you. May all your holidays be joyful.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Beautiful Black Diamond Necklace - Auction Starts Now!

When I attended the Blog Paws 2013 conference last May, I entered a raffle hosted by the ASPCA. I'm not even sure I realized I was entering to win a beautiful black diamond, paw-print necklace donated by Zales Jewelers so was rather surprised to learn over Twitter that I had actually won. (Unflattering evidence of win pictured here.)

The necklace is beautiful as you can see in the picture.

It is from the ASCPA's Tender Voices™ collection and, as far as I can tell, no longer available through Zales (although I have found a few for sale via "Find and Save".)

The necklace is black diamonds (1/4 CT. T.W.) set in sterling silver with an 18 inch sterling silver cable chain. Every online mention of it I have found has it retailing at $199 USD. And it's really pretty. The only trouble is, I don't really wear jewelry.

So, instead of leaving this darling little pendant sitting in its pretty little box, I'm auctioning it off on eBay and donating the proceeds to Save a Sato.

Why Save a Sato?

Save a Sato is the all volunteer rescue group in Puerto Rico that rescued Bella. The work they do is endless and includes hands-on intervention and rescue as well as advocacy and outreach programs. Per their web site:
"Save A Sato is a non-profit, all volunteer organization dedicated to easing the suffering of Puerto Rico's homeless and abused animals. "Sato" is slang for street dog. We rescue Satos from the streets and beaches, give them medical care, food and shelter, and plenty of love. When they are healthy, we send them to one of our shelter partners for adoption into loving homes."
In 2006, the ASPCA recognized Save a Sato's enormous contribution to animal welfare on the island by nominating Gloria Marti, President and Shelter Manager of Save a Sato, for their most prestigious award - the Lifetime Achievement Award. One of 11 finalists, Gloria didn't win but she is certainly a hero among all who know of her tireless efforts to save and care for these Sato dogs.

So, about that auction?

Starting tonight, 11/25/13 at 9:38 EST, my little necklace will be available for bidding on eBay. You can bid on it here!

I'm setting the starting price at just $29.99 but I'm hoping it'll fare better than that as 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Save a Sato. To sweeten the pot, I will double match the final price (up to a maximum match of $500).

I'm hoping we can give Save a Sato a healthy donation to brighten up their holidays.

The auction will be open for 7 days and bidding will end promptly at 9:38 EST on 12/2/13. As soon as payment has been confirmed, I'll wrap the little box up and send it anywhere in the world.

I can't guarantee a Christmas delivery to everywhere in the whole world but I will certainly do my best in case you were thinking this might make a lovely little holiday present for someone you know.

Please help spread the word about the auction. Unless you want it for yourself, in which case, go, bid, bid, bid! And join me in wishing the stray dogs of Puerto Rico a happy Christmas and their very own forever home in 2014.

PS - The eBay listing was made using my husband, Jan's, account. He had an offer from eBay to waive the seller fees so we used that in order to ensure that 100% of the selling price goes to the Satos.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday 112 - So pretty

Back when Bella was truly black. Insert wistful sigh here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Don't It Make My Black Dog Brown

Or something like that...

So we're full of strange little happenings here these days. Last week it was Bella's mysterious and intermittent pain. This week my black dog is changing color. And I mean changing color to the point that our trainer, Carolyn, has actually taken to calling Bella "Blondie".

Carolyn was the first to notice a few weeks ago. My mother was next to comment. Jan and I must be too close to notice subtle day to day changes but it has become painfully obvious that my black dog is no longer black.

I have no idea what's going on. She is shedding like a Husky but it's Fall and that's to be expected. It never caused her to change colors before.

The before:
Okay, seriously, how stinking cute was she?
Now to be fair, Bella is not exactly and entirely black. Or rather, she never had been. Peel back that silky black coat and Bella's undercoat was always a light brown. For some reason, however, a few weeks ago, that light brown undercoat started to overtake her silky black top coat and Bella is now going blonde.

I'm okay with that as long as it doesn't make its way to her beautiful black face with those marvelously expressive brown eyebrows and charming little freckles. I may have to take a Sharpie to her head were that to happen. (I kid, I kid!)

All kidding aside, Bella seems otherwise perfectly normal. She has energy and appetite. She still has all her crazy little idiosyncrasies and she's still our beautiful Bella. She's just, well, lighter.

The after: 

We have added some fish oil back into her diet but otherwise, all my research has turned up nothing of concern. I'm thinking I may bring her in for some blood work though just to make sure there's nothing else going on. She is hypothyroid so that could be in play.

But I am curious as to whether or not my 'very-well-educated-in-all-things-dog' readers have ever seen a black dog turn brown? Mind you, this isn't a graying of the muzzle, this is happening on her body - almost exclusively from her front shoulders, across her chest and back, all the way to her back thighs.

So what do you think? Anybody ever see this before? Anyone? Bueller?

PS - If you are not old enough to get the reference in the title, please see: Crystal Gayle and "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue".

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday: Prepare to ooh and awww

Jan wants to know why I got this:

While he got this:

Well, Gunner, what do you have to say about that?

I'm a puppy. It's what I do.
Oh Gunner, you sweet boy. Have a wonderful life, little one.

Gunner was a rescue transport we did for New England Brittany Rescue this weekend. He is now happily settling in to his very own forever home.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Honey, I broke the dog

Here's a strange little story for your consideration:

A few weeks ago, I came home from work on a Friday night. There was nothing extraordinary about this Friday night. I wasn't especially late nor unexpectedly early. I came in the door to my regular welcome home: Jan, in his upstairs office called down "Hello" and Bella, from her perch in the kitchen came bounding into the bedroom to greet me.

Bella and I did our routine little 'snuggle snuggle kiss kiss' and all seemed well. Although in retrospect, Bella did seem just a tad more excited to see me than usual.

I'm not 100% sure of exactly what happened next but I ended up with my hand petting her neck and she screamed in pain. And then she lunged at me.

Oddly, Bella often seems to 'know' it's me even when she flips out and the very second her mouth connected with my hand, she stopped herself. By this time I was standing (I am not as dumb as I look after all) but I did not raise my voice or my hand. She was obviously hurt or scared and reacting to protect herself. She immediately went into a very submissive posture and was trying to cuddle as she cowered next to me.

Posing with her "Peace and Paws Rescue" calendar.
Safety first

I wanted to check her out to see what the heck I had done to hurt her so I quickly grabbed her muzzle and put it on while yelling up to Jan to stay upstairs.

Bella has been trained to accept a muzzle for safety purposes but she's not crazy about it. Still, if there was any possibility my checking her out would lead to her mouth on my skin, she was going to get checked out wearing her muzzle.

And indeed, when I gently ran my hand over her neck, she screamed in pain again and had another little flip out, although not one involving teeth. And again, immediately she was back near me, submissively cowering at my feet.

As an aside, there are no words I could ever find to describe how unspeakably heart-breaking and devastating it is to see her in these moments. There just aren't.

I have never, ever in our history hit Bella. And yet, I have hurt her on two other occasions in the past. Under these exact same circumstances: coming home from work, a happy, excited, little greeting turns into Bella howling in pain at the most inoffensive touch. The really strange thing is it has been while I was touching different parts of her body each time - once on her "croup" (the top of her butt area near the tail) and the other time on her hind right thigh/flank.

They all think I'm nuts

I have tried to recount these situations to vets we have seen in the past about various ailments but they have looked at me like I was losing my mind. I don't know what it is and I don't know what to do about it. I can say that I'm glad, at this time, it has only happened to me and that Bella recognizes me enough to restrain her bite. I do not want to think of what would happen were someone else other than me to trigger her trouble spot.

In fact, I don't even know if it's even possible for someone else to trigger it. This has only happened when she's been interacting with me and all 3 times after I've come home from work. Is there something in her anatomy that gets "tweaked" when she gets so excited? Is she pulling a muscle or pinching a nerve? Is a vertebra slipping out of place? I don't even know what the possibilities could be.

Then again, is this part of what has been happening between her and Jan? While I don't believe there has been any of the "screaming in agony" as part of their altercations, could it be something we have missed?

I do believe there is a component to Bella's issues with Jan that stems from her fear of being hurt rather than any actually pain endured. And yet, in the situation that has happened with me it feels clear that I did in fact hurt her even though I have no idea how or why. And even though I may have actually hurt her, still she moderates her reaction.

Oh Bella, it's a good thing you're cute. 

Bella is a complicated girl and I spend an awful lot of time trying to figure her out. But at this point, the vets don't seem to have any answers and I don't honestly know what to do about an issue that has manifest itself only 3 times in the last 5+ years. If anyone has ever experienced a similar situation or has any insight at all into what is going on here, I welcome all counsel.