This past week, we lost our beloved Scottish terrier, Bella, to skin cancer.
She had been suffering from itchy skin and painful boils for several months, and, after consulting with our vet and praying over the situation, we made the heartbreaking decision to put her down.
I’ll never forget adopting our sweet puppy from a nondescript animal shelter in a tiny Washington town all those years ago. We didn’t really know what we wanted in a dog then—but when we met Bella (then called Juliet), we knew right away that she was the one. We hustled her home, and never looked back.
How lucky were we to find a beautiful, feisty, playful, gentle, two-year-old Scottish terrier—one of the most sought after dog breeds in the world—at a shelter? And how lucky were we that she would become a treasured member of our family—even traveling with us as we crossed the United States, leaving Washington to make a new home in Texas—for thirteen years?
Like most dogs, Bella had a few simple, precious pleasures. She loved food, of course; and walks around the block and wrestling with her horse ball, even when chasing it around the yard wore down her tender nose to blisters. She defended our home as valiantly as a lion—from squirrels, postal workers, and relatives alike. She loved and watched over us all like a nanny, and would come jogging in—concern plain in her soft brown eyes—whenever one of us yelled or laughed too loudly.
And she had an incredible amount of patience and self-control. Not once in her thirteen years did she ever harm us—or lay a tooth on either of our cats or snap at our birds, even when they taunted her. She really was a good girl.
I don’t think I told her that enough.
It’s still a little hard to believe she’s gone, after all this time. She was dauntless and optimistic to the last, even as she trotted into the veterinary office to face whatever would come her way.
It hurt to do that to her—to make the choice to end her life. Was it the right thing to do? Is it ever the right thing to do?
I, a mere mortal struggling for truth in a deceitful world, don’t have the answer. I’m not sure there is one. But I remind myself that her cancer was terminal. We were sparing her agony she didn’t deserve to weather. When the darkness bears down on me, I try to take a little comfort in that.
I’ll miss our sweet girl. I really will. She wasn’t perfect, but her strengths outweighed her flaws. The fun times we had with her are innumerable. They could fill a book, yet they may never take to words—spoken or written—again.
That’s okay. These memories are still worth their weight in gold.
Isabella, Puppy, Scot, Boozie, Scottie Girl, Izzy B, Bella—
I miss you so much, but it brings me peace to know that you’ve been freed from your pain—that you’re home and safe.
And I truly believe I’ll see you again someday.
(Do carrots grow in Heaven?
For your sake, I hope so.)