Fabulous 15! A tumultuous year but another Bella birthday

January 19, 2011

I never thought I would be writing this. Not a dozen years ago, when I got her knowing that she had a heart murmur, not three years ago when she was twelve and first starting on medication for her heart condition, not ten months ago, when I came within a day of euthanizing her because she wasn’t eating or moving around or seeming to want any attention, and certainly not four months ago when she was in the ER for a seizure while we were out of the country. It sounds like Bella has had an awful year, but when I look back on it, all I can see is how many amazing comebacks she made every time I was just about ready to give up on her.

If this were an Academy Awards speech, I would start by thanking her cardiologists: Kirstie Barrett, who shepherded her through annual exams charting the progress of her disease and decided when it was time to start the meds, and Sarah Miller, who took over while Dr. Barrett was on sabbatical and pulled her through that first crisis thanks to judicious treatment with pimobendan and an appetite stimulant.

Next would be Cindy Mar, her ophthalmologist. On top of her other issues, Bella developed dry eye and a corneal ulcer and Dr. Mar helped us work through those and get them under control. And she didn’t even scold me for not making Bella wear an e-collar, which probably would have speeded the process, but I couldn’t stand that she disliked it so much. (Yes, she has me well trained.)

Of course, there are all her regular veterinarians–Dr. Hamil, Dr. G and Dr. Brower–who have all given her lots of TLC this year. Special thanks to Dr. Hamil for taking my frantic phone call from Cayman during the seizure episode and my frantic phone call one night in December when she was shivering uncontrollably for no apparent reason. He talked me through an exam, talked me down from my anxiety about her and told me I could call any time that night if she seemed to be getting worse. I didn’t, and wouldn’t have, but I sure appreciated knowing I could.

I absolutely can’t leave out our pet sitter, Terry Albert, who made all the decisions I would have made for Bella until she was able to get in touch with us and confirm what treatment we wanted done. And we’re grateful that the veterinarians she took Bella to did such a great job of caring for her.

Then there are all of our neighbors, relatives and friends, including everyone here, who have been pulling for her and supporting me and Jerry with lots of love, kind words and good advice. Thank you, everyone.

As I write this, Bella is sleeping beside me, which is her default mode these days. When she’s awake, though, she still follows me around, performing her lady-in-waiting duties as she sees them. She’s back to carefully supervising meal preparation and eating enthusiastically. We are slowly transitioning her to a homemade kidney diet, and she seems to be accepting it pretty well. Outside, I don’t see her running anymore, but she still moves at a spanking pace for an old lady. When Harper and Twyla are getting clicker-trained, Bella notices and comes over to get in on the act. She gets clicked and treated for still being alive. I have gotten good at diapers and gotten over thinking she’s at death’s door at the slightest change in her routine. At least until the next time.

Happy birthday, dear Bella!

Filed under: pets, connected — Kim Campbell Thornton @ 5:10 am



    It is a testament not only to the good medical care, but your dedication and love that has led to all those candles on the cake.

    Good job, Kim! Good girl, Bella!

    Comment by Dr. Tony Johnson — January 19, 2011 @ 6:47 am

  2. Happy Birthday, Bella! I love this post. It truly takes a village :-)

    Comment by Ingrid King — January 19, 2011 @ 7:02 am

  3. Happy Birthday Bella!!

    Comment by Nancy Freedman-Smith — January 19, 2011 @ 8:04 am


    Comment by Phyllis DeGioia — January 19, 2011 @ 8:14 am

  5. Fifteen years is amazing for all she has going on.

    Cheers, Bella!

    Comment by Marge — January 19, 2011 @ 9:08 am

  6. Congratulations and Happy Fifteenth to Bella!

    Comment by Glenye Oakford — January 19, 2011 @ 9:20 am

  7. Happy Birthday, sweet, sweet Bella! And an excellent post, Kim; I read it twice and cried both times.

    Comment by Jerry Thornton — January 19, 2011 @ 9:59 am

  8. My vet, Dr Singh at the Animal Medical Hospital here in Poway, was wonderful the day Bella had her seizures. He came in from home (these things always happen on Saturday afternoon) and got her stabilized, and then gave precise instructions to the vets at the ER who cared for her overnight.

    I was so glad I could reach you. I don’t think pet sitters usually realize what a responsibility they carry when they care for an old dog.

    Happy Birthday Bella– and many more!

    Comment by Terry Albert — January 19, 2011 @ 10:40 am

  9. A very happy birthday to Bella. old dog are the best!

    Comment by Verde — January 19, 2011 @ 12:36 pm


    Comment by H. Houlahan — January 19, 2011 @ 1:09 pm

  11. Old dogs are teh awesome.

    Comment by Rob McMillin — January 19, 2011 @ 3:31 pm

  12. “She gets clicked and treated for still being alive.” – I think that says it all about your love and care for her. Very moving. And happy b-day Bella!

    Comment by Alison — January 19, 2011 @ 3:50 pm

  13. Happy Day, Bella! What a sweet face. I love the oldsters.

    Comment by Mary Mary — January 19, 2011 @ 4:20 pm

  14. Happy birthday bella ! Looking very good for 15 too.

    Comment by Leslie K — January 19, 2011 @ 6:32 pm

  15. Happy birthday, Bella!

    Comment by Lis — January 19, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

  16. I love stories like this; an inspiration.
    Happy Birthday Bella, many happy returns :)
    I must try the ‘click and treat for being alive’ – it obviously works !

    Comment by Alison — January 19, 2011 @ 8:06 pm

  17. Happy Birthday Bella! You go girl.

    Comment by cheryl — January 19, 2011 @ 8:42 pm

  18. Oh so sweet! Happy Birthday Bella!

    Comment by Peggy Frezon — January 19, 2011 @ 10:10 pm

  19. Yea!!!! Happy 15th Bella… We do a lot of the click and treat for living thing around here too. Although no treats tonight as SOMEBODY got into the garbage and SOMEBODY messed in the bedroom. With five to choose from, I’m not sure who to blame, but when it’s minus 30 outside I can understand their reasoning. Bassets are 10, 11, 8 and 5. Old sled dog is 14…his 15th party will be in early May.
    Congratulations to your whole family, and thanks for sharing.

    Comment by LynnO — January 19, 2011 @ 10:25 pm

  20. Bellisima Bella.. I don’t know the other vets.. but Dr. Hamil is tops with me.. glad to see Bella is sporting a pretty bow.. she deserves it..here’s to old dogs..

    Comment by bestuvall — January 19, 2011 @ 11:30 pm

  21. Thanks, everyone. Bella has been very active today (for her) and got some good treats.

    Comment by Kim Thornton — January 20, 2011 @ 1:02 am

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