Monday, October 5, 2009

Ode to Miss Annabelle

Years ago, my good friend Annabelle MacNeal told me that my first daughter must be named Annabelle. A year or so later found me married to Cesar, living in Manhattan, owner of our adorable Rodrigo puppy dog and simply crazy for knitting. I had joined a local knitting club which met on Saturday mornings at our 96th Street Library. There I met a woman who happened to be President of the Chihuahua Rescue Club of NYC. I attracted her attention not only with my love and addiction of all things knitting, but by my bringing Rodrigo, tucked away in my tote bag, to our meetings. Only seeing eye dogs were allowed in the library at the time but, Rodrigo was so quiet and perfectly wonderful that his visits were sorta under the radar and sorta, kinda permitted. Shhhh! I was asked if we might be interested in a female companion when and if one became available for our loved pet. Hmmm... Yes! A month or so later the phone rang late in the evening, would we take in and love a tiny, white dog? The next morning we walked down and west a few blocks to the building where Miss Belle had found a temporary home. Half way there, Cesar grabbed my arm to stop me cold on the sidewalk. Two, only two dogs Alissa. Yup, sure, okay hunny ole' sweetheart of mine, whatever you say, let's just hurry up and meet our new puppy dog! Cesar fell in love with our tiny pups and was later overheard, on more than one occasion, wondering allowed if we should get another one. We didn't. We got a pitbull instead. But that's another story.

Our tiny, white dog was instantly named Annabelle, or for short, Bella. Cesar picked her up first and she clung to him. She hated me. With passion. She actually scared me. She even made me cry because it was so obvious she didn't like me. Miss Belle didn't like Rodrigo either. Poor sweet Rodrigo and I sat on the far edge of the couch away from Bella and Cesar. She barred her fangs and let out a low, terrifying growl in our direction any time either of us tried to make eye contact with her. I actually thought we might have to give her back. How could we have a dog who didn't like me? or sweet Rodrigo? Then Cesar got a call for an out of town job. This was it. Her big chance. She'd have to deal with Rodrigo and I alone. It worked! In no time at all, she quickly abandoned the idea that Cesar would ever return and vaulted into my arms. She soon fell in love with Rodrigo too. He was pleased as punch. She was naughty, as pretty little girls can be, and taught him how to bark. We'd never heard our little Rodrigo bark once until she arrived. She also came into heat which drove adolescent Rodrigo insane. Insaaannne. I couldn't stand this bulging eyed, whiny/whimpering/yelping, not eating or drinking, humping maniac that our sweet pup had been transformed into. The process seemed to last for at least a month. It was horrible.

Bit by bit, week by week, our snarling, fang toothed, tiny, white chihuahua girl, softened. Her hair softened along with her eyes and her snapping turtle of a personality. Cesar nicknamed her the Smoocher.

Charles Sebastian

Daphne May

Millie May Price

Wayne May - aka Popeye in Hugo Land

Me with Rodrigo and the Smoocher in our Chelsea apartment.

Hugo Augustus - Ever enamored but wary, with good reason, of her fangs.

This past Sunday morning our Miss Belle passed away. She looked "off" in her dog bed as I passed by with a plate of snacks for Hugo and I to devour on the couch. Rodrigo chased me excitedly while Annabelle didn't move a centimeter. I took a second look and I knew, she was gone. I was shocked. It had been Rodrigo who had suffered a rough winter this past year and I had thought that we'd give him one more summer of chasing squirrels and rabbits in the yard while barking his head off before we'd put him down. Now, Rodrigo has rebounded and Bella is gone.

I cried and cried. It was hard scooping her out of her cave shaped dog bed. Her tiny body was already cold and stiff which made me cry even harder. Hugo became alarmed and came to stand next to where I knelt. He asked me what was wrong. For a moment, I wasn't sure what to say. We haven't really talked about death. I realized I needed to say something. To be honest with him because he was watching my attentions toward her and would soon notice her absence from our lives. I told Hugo that our Bella girl had died. That she was dead. He began to repeat my words that she was dead in a soft yet girly pitched voice. Then he began to ask why she was dead. I told him that I wasn't really sure but that she had lived with us for a long, long time and that I knew she was in heaven with our Heavenly Father now. I stacked some sheets of bright red tissue paper on the floor next to her dog bed. Once more I reached into her cave and pulled out her lifeless body and placed it on the tissue paper. Tissue paper? you might be asking yourself. Cesar wouldn't be home until late that night and I didn't know what else to do with her. So I wrapped her up in the bright red tissue paper and placed her into a pretty paper bag. The tears and crying took over. I didn't want to scare Hugo but I couldn't help myself. Hugo who was still standing next to me wrapped one arm around my shoulders and hugged my head to his chest with the other while he kissed the top of my head. He told me it would be all right. At that point I think I cried even harder because he was so darn sweet. Then Hugo really surprised me and said that Bella was going to turn into flowers. She did like to sun herself in my flower garden. Flowers, I liked that. Our boy may be wild and silly but he is developing a sweet, emotional self. We are so lucky.

Monday morning after breakfast, we three headed outside into the garden. Cesar said some loving words about the Smoocher and dug a deep hole in my garden. Hugo wanted to see her one more time so she was unwrapped and after a bit rewrapped. Cesar chose her burial spot to be where I have always grown our salad greens in the past. He tried to explain to me that the hole was really deep, as he layered a bed of pine needles for our Bella. I am pretty sure that come next spring, Hugo and I will pick out a pretty salvia or lavendar bush or something special, to grow above our tiny, white dog instead of the usual mesclun mix. Poppa's can be pretty funny, even in sad situations. I suppose that's a good thing. He did make me smile.


Alissa said...

Oh no! I'm so sorry about Belle. She was such a sweet dog. I'm sure she's in doggie heaven now!

Murdoch said...

So sorry to hear about Bella. Mikelle sure loved those dogs! Thanks for sharing them with us for a while.


Audra said...

Very sorry to hear about your Belle! We are huge doggie lovers, and know the lost of a pet. She looks like she was very well loved!! Thinking of you.

amy said...

I'm so sorry about little Bella. That was a very sweet story about her. It made me cry. I do love that Hugo has some wonderful sense of understanding beyond his years that Bella will turn into flowers. And she will. I'm glad she passed so peacefully.

I have to tell you, our dog Dooley (that passed away last year) was nicknamed Popeye by my brother and I.

By the way I just love the picture of Bella laying on your rump on the sofa. You both look so cozy.

Maggie May said...

WHAT!!!! What happened!?? I'm crying, I'm so sad!!! When did she get sick? How could Bella die so quickly--you haven't had her that long!!!!!!!!!!

I'm sad now. I'm sorry, Ali. She was adorable, even with her fangs. And I always laugh like an idiot when you tell your early-Bella stories.

I have to go blow my nose now...

KristyKay said...

I will miss her too. Do you remember when you two were in your very first apartment and I came for my first visit? You hadn't had Bella very long and she was really snarly. Then she came and crawled in bed with me? She slept down between my knees all night and I was So-o-o-o uncomfortable because I couldn't move! I was actually afraid that she would bite me!!! HARD probably!! Anyhow, we became good friends before the next night and I am sad thinking she won't get to come and visit anymore. She can go meet Bingo, Poop-a-lot, Dee Dee and Amos & Andy now.

K May said...

Sorry to hear. It's so sad. Hope you guys are doing ok.