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Many years ago, a tiny ball of fur, fluff and tail came into my life. She was just four weeks old, and her mama had had nine other puppies. The owner was going to 'do away' with all of them..so I saved one. Her name was Belle Starr.Belle and I

She was less that a year old in this photo, I was a heck of a lot younger then too, gee, where did those years go! She was just the best puppy, easy to housebreak, never chewed up anything in the house. She did, however, eat all of my mom's plants outside! At about the time of this picture, she discovered the joys of dragging around a six foot cedar fence post! Back and forth, up and down the yard went Belle with the fence post. When she got a bit larger, she would toss it up, catch it in the middle, and run run run. Three feet of post sticking out each side of her jaws. By the time she was two years old, she had muscles in her neck the size of a bull's!

And a head as hard as a bull's too.

In her later years, as my father's health declined, Belle Starr was his 'nurse.' When I married, my parents wanted Belle to stay, to watch over Dad, so I agreed. He was suffering from a disease like Alzheimer's, but due to his age, they called it 'senile dementia.' I believe he was able to live at home at least two extra years due to Belle. She would not let him go out the front door, would not let him turn on the stove, and she would go get him when the phone would ring.

After my Dad went to live in a nursing home, Belle came back to me. My mother simply could not handle such a large dog. In adulthood, Belle tipped the scales at about 100 pounds, most of that weight from having such a hard head!

One night, in late June of 1991, Belle sat up, threw back her head and gave out the most mournful cry I had ever heard from her. Like a coyote howling at the moon. My husband and I bolted out of bed, turned on the lights, and searched the entire house. Why had she made this terrible cry? As soon as we got up, she lay back down, beside our bed..never interested in the search, which was rare. While getting back into bed, her big soulful eyes just stared at me. "What's wrong Belle?" I kept asking her. She'd look at me, thump her tail and put her head flat on the floor.

We finally settled back down, noting that it was about midnight that she had woke us up. We turned off the lights, and before we could go back to sleep, we heard a door slam! Up we came, crawled back out of bed. Belle just laid there, never even barking. After another fruitless search, finding no intruders (Thank Goodness!) we again went back to bed...and actually went to sleep. Until the phone rang at 3:15 am.

My mother calling. Dad had passed away the nursing home had told her. At about midnight.

Had Belle Starr known? Did Dad reach out and give her and us one last hug in passing? I think so.

Belle Starr passed away several years ago, at the great age of 15. I still look for her, the house is so empty without her big heart. Before she died I told her, "Go find Daddy, Belle Starr!"


Belle

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Song is "The Green Leaves of Summer", from the movie "The Alamo."

 

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