Friday, 9 December 2011

My four legged carer

I thought it was about time I wrote about Bella, my wonderful Border Collie. I have had a dog in my life since I was seven years old, but Bella is something else. We got her back in July 2004 as a pup, as a retirement present for Eric who managed to get early retirement and escape teaching. Of course that didn't pan out as we'd hoped with me getting CRPS a year and a half later. Six months later we went back to Wales to get another Border Collie puppy, Kayla. She was to become completely bonded to Eric whilst Bella became totally and utterly bonded to me.

We played rough and tumble, fetch, went on walks. Did all the things you do with a puppy, training etc etc. Then everything changed for her. Firstly I was in hospital for several days, which she didn't react well to. Then when I was back at home I was different. Gone was the mistress she knew, that took her for walks, played with her in our active and boisterous way. Instead mistress was confined to the sofa, and later a reclining chair, couldn't move much and was just different.

Bella, avoiding my legs as is the norm
From that moment on, she has adapted to my situation and as near as damn it, become my four legged carer. She is never far from me, indeed the vast majority of the time she lies across my lap in my reclining chair. She is incredibly protective, has a canny knack for not touching my legs either when she is lying on me or when she jumps up or gets off. I can ask her to turn round as necessary and she is always incredibly careful and gentle. We now play with her lying on me, or she stands with her front paws on the arm of my chair and her back paws on the arm of the sofa. We still manage fetch and when I do occasionally get out on a walk with them she absolutely loves it.

What really makes her special is the way she regulates me. Sounds unbelievable but she does. A typical example is when I do some gardening. She will come out with me initially with me but then goes back in the house. She will then come out again a bit later to see me and again returns to the house. Nothing unusual there. A bit later however she comes out and refuses to go back in. She just stands next to the wheelchair looking at me. It is almost as if she's saying 'right that's enough, time to stop now'. She impatiently waits whilst Eric helps me back into the house and out of the wheelchair. Once I'm back in my chair, I get thoroughly licked. She reacts the same way when I play tennis on my PS3. She toddles off upstairs as soon as I start, but again she will come down as if saying 'enough now, time to stop'.

When I go upstairs (as little as possible as I have to drag myself up there) she always comes with me. Our stairs have a landing halfway up. From wherever she is, she will get up and goes and stands on this landing. She waits there for me until I get there, then she goes up to the top landing. Again she waits for me. She then waits for me to get back to the stairs. Only then does she go down. The only time she goes down without me is when I have gone up to have a bath. Every other time the routine is the same.

Bella gives me so much love, encouragement and protection. She is an exceptional dog, and I simply don't know what I'd do without her.

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