I have written about my beautiful rescue staffy, Bella, many times, and have no doubt I will write about her many more. She is the absolute light of my life.
A friend who has a rescue centre asked my partner and me to foster her for two weeks in 2013. He had no room and was desperate to save her.
We were unsure. We lived in a one-bedroom flat at the time with no garden and zero experience with young staffies. We were convinced she would destroy our home. But how could we say no? She was due to be euthanised that afternoon.
Bella joined our family
So on 7th March 2013, Bella burst, quite spectacularly, into our lives. It was the most enthusiastic greeting I have ever had! She sang and cried and kissed us until she was exhausted. She seemed desperate for us to love her.
Bella was really skinny when she moved in. She whined a lot and was immensely uncertain about her future after such a confusing and abusive past. She would often lie shivering on the sofa. If we made any sudden movements, she would drop to the floor and close her eyes in anticipation of a beating. What kind of a monster treats a sentient being like that? Even now, I get so angry at the thought of anyone lifting a hand to my sweet, thoughtful and loving little girl.
But that is not what this blog is meant to be about; it’s meant to be a happy one. Bella’s life is as perfect as we can make it. For years she has experienced nothing but adoration from her human servants, with loads of fun experiences. And she is never left on her own, not for a moment.
Being alone is hugely distressing for her, so we adjusted our lives to accommodate her. It suits me just fine. I get separation anxiety when away from her too! In fact, even while writing this, I have gone looking for her. I found her on the bed under the fan (it’s a hot evening) and am now propped up with a pillow, rubbing her belly with my foot as I type.
Bella’s Health issues
Over the years, Bella has had numerous physical health complaints, from seasonal allergies to having a splenectomy. She also tore both her cruciate ligaments, which has left her with osteoarthritis in both knees. As she has aged, she has developed a heart murmur.
Her past had left her with some pretty severe anxieties. She is a different dog from the one I met in 2013, but some scars never completely heal. She has anxieties around food, is nervous about other dogs and still gets highly distressed if left alone.
So aside from keeping on top of her physical health, understanding her mental health issues and working with her is extremely important. I was doing everything I could.
Last year a friend of over two decades, Karen, reached out and asked if I would like her to communicate with Bella. As I have always been interested in anything that will improve her life, I immediately said yes.
For a bit of background, although I am South African, I have lived in England for 17 years. Karen is still in SA, so we haven’t seen each other for a long time. But we have stayed connected over the years. I knew she had used animal communicators to try and find a dear dog of hers who was lost years ago, but I didn’t know this had led to her following that path herself. Karen now works with Animal-Eyes Animal Communication & Intuitive Counselling. See their Facebook page here.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I wanted to know more about Bella’s mental health issues and how I could help her further. Karen was highly professional. She sent me a list of questions to ask Bella and arranged a time to communicate with Bella and a separate date to ring me with her feedback.
I didn’t expect that!
Karen video-called me to give me feedback. It was nice to see her face and hear her voice, and she began explaining what Bella had told her.
I was utterly blown away! Karen was relaying things to me that she couldn’t possibly have known. If I hadn’t experienced this myself, I would not have believed it!
She told me about Bella’s favourite memory, it was of us at the beach when we found a white football and I was kicking it for her. I remember that day so clearly because it was a lovely memory for me too, a special bonding moment, and I could see pure joy in my darling girl.
Karen told me Bella complained to her that she didn’t have a bed. I knew that was wrong, she has several beds, including mine! Then I remembered that Bella kept going to sit on the floor by the door in the conservatory. The bed that was usually there had been washed and was still on the drying rack!
And there was more
There were many more examples of things she couldn’t possibly have known. She knew some things I didn’t know at the time but did indeed became aware of at a later date! Karen had communicated with Bella all the way from South Africa. There was no doubt in my mind.
Karen told me that Bella said she had stiffness in her right shoulder. I knew that was an issue because Bella gets regular Clinical Canine Massage to help with her arthritis. Her therapist told me that her right shoulder was sticking a bit. (I’ll definitely do a blog on the massage at a later stage, it has helped her tremendously).
She described Bella as having an issue with her digestion, also true. She has a very sensitive stomach and was hospitalised for three days a couple of years ago with terrible tummy problems.
I couldn’t fault the facts Karen gave me, and then she started describing Bella’s thought process, which really touched me.
How Bella Sees Me
Bella described us as two peas in a pod, we are both anxious beings, and the more I worry over her, the more she worries over me. One of the questions I had given Karen to ask was, “what can I do to make Bella’s life better”. Bella’s response was that there is nothing I can do more and that I must get out of my head and into my heart. She said that our energy is so connected that I can never meet all of her needs until I meet my own.
Bella said I was on an emotional rollercoaster – the air was dense with emotion that didn’t know where to go. Her message to me was, “you worry about me, and it’s snowballing, but it’s just worry, so it’s nothing”.
This message blew me away because I worried about Bella all the time. It had become so all-consuming that I wasn’t enjoying our beautiful moments together. Furthermore, my constant worrying about Bella was causing her distress, and it had to stop! So I let it go. Not all of it, I still have moments of concern, but the bulk of it is in the wind.
What I’ve Learnt on my Walk with Bella
I won’t walk you through the whole consultation. It was long and fascinating and left me a little breathless and a lot tearful. But one thing is for sure, this stuff is real, and our companion animals are a whole lot smarter than we realise.
I think Karen realised I needed this more than Bella did! I was so afraid I wasn’t doing everything right and would fail my girl. Karen cautioned me not to take on all the responsibility in my relationship with Bella. She told me we are a team, so some of that responsibility falls on Bella too. It was incredibly liberating!
My relationship with Bella is less frantic now. I am far more in the moment with her and able to enjoy our time together, rather than uselessly trying to control things that are simply out of my hands.