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By Spence

Through complete happenstance, way back in 2002, we came upon our little 15 pound, Tibetan Spaniel, Bella.

Bella, peacefully, passed in her sleep on Saturday morning.

A friend had purchased Bella in a relationship-saving move that didn’t quite work the way he intended. The very first day he brought Bella home to his girlfriend, his apartment manager caught him red handed. Because it violated his lease, he was forced to give the puppy up. He offered it up to his co-worker, my then girlfriend, Stephanie.

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Bella at attention.

Steph fell in love with Bella immediately but was unable to keep Bella at her place because her roommate had an apartment filled with cats. I mean, look at her. How could you not keep that puppy. I was charged with keeping Bella at my apartment and did my best to keep her hidden from my leasing manager and to prevent her from staining my freshly shampooed carpet with puppy pee.

Bella collected many nicknames, as I suspect most pets do, over the years. The one, however, that stuck was “Nenna.” I don’t recall how it came about but it took and “Bella” and “Nenna” became interchangeable.

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Bella with Chester

Over her 15 years she moved all over Vegas with her family and had several pet-mates. Bella out-lived them all. There was our sweet, but not too bright rescue, Chloe the shih tzu who passed a couple of years back. There was Chester, the kitten, who sadly died from a rare feline disease. And there was Waco. A charcoal grey cat who enjoyed taunting Bella, He would slap fight her until he grew tired of the lack of competition had and would then jump from the kitchen counter to the top of the fridge and look down at Bella as if to say, “Catch me if you can.” Waco learned how to use the doggie door…and one day…just never came home.

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Bella and her chew toy

Bella loved tennis balls. She’d chase them, fetch one and drop it at your feet. She would reluctantly sit, shaking in anticipation of the next throw. She’d lay on a throw rug and gnaw on them four hours. I was amazed that somehow she was able to carry the ball around in her tiny jaws.

She loved to run free. Although forbidden by the rules, we would shut all of the gates at the Mesa Park little league fields, when they were not in use, and let her run around…smelling, investigating, prancing, simply enjoying life.

She liked to wander and she escaped a few times when dad or the landscaper forgot to shut the backyard gate. We always found her, typically because someone was kind enough to scoop her up and even more kind to make the attempt to find us. Bella loved people.

Well, truth be told, she loved adults…and children…who didn’t make sudden moves.

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Bella gets a stretch in

I used play with her and get on my hands and knees, growl at her, lightly slapping at her paws, as she would try to make me miss, while simultaneously attempting to attack my hands. I will fondly remember her hopping, like a bunny, through a few inches of backyard snow after a freak Summerlin blast of winter. And I recall how she reacted when we had to put her sister, Chloe, down.

Chloe had a seizure that resulted in paralysis. On the morning we were to put her to sleep, I took Bella to the vet with me. Bella, typically very animated as most small dogs are, was subdued. She seemed to sense the seriousness of the matter. Bella lifted her torso up, placing her front paws on to the table to peer into the basket, and stayed there for several seconds, as if to say, “I’m sorry for what you’re going through. I will miss you.” I know that as pet lovers we often attach human emotions to our animals, but I remember thinking she was genuinely attempting to say goodbye.

I’ll miss Bella’s unconditional love. I’ll miss her playful spirit and, without a doubt, that adorable little face.

Goodbye, my sweet Nenna.

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