Just a little mutt in a duffle bag thrown away in a creek…who knew she would become the love of my life.  At 4 weeks old, this black and white 1 ½ lb pup was busy helping the volunteers at the animal shelter clean cages and caring for her roommates, when my daughters (5 & 8) and I walked in.  It was love at first sight.  Because she was so young, it was necessary to supplement her canned puppy food with infant Gerber rice cereal for proper nourishment.  With an abundance of love and care, Belle quickly became aware she had found her forever home.  As a military family, it was necessary to move frequently, but Belle never minded as long as we were with her.  With my husband (now retired First Sgt) frequently gone, this little 19 lb fuzz ball filled the emptiness and became my best friend.
In addition to holding the position of ‘Executive Director of the Welcoming Committee’, Belle had many duties in our home.  She assisted with the garden including but not limited to pruning, watering and planting, assisted the ‘grill sergeant’ and kept the bedding warm in preparation for ‘nite-nite’.  Perhaps her most important responsibility was ‘General of Goose Patrol’ by the pond.  Some of her favorite activities included walks, car rides and afternoons at the spa.  Belle and I were best buds.
I was raised in a family where love was earned as a result of work and grades.  Belle taught me unconditional love!!  I’d never experienced this before and it changed my life and my relationship with God, my girls and my husband.  I could tell her anything and she never judged me for who I am or the many mistakes I’ve made.  She always knew when I needed a little extra attention or a buddy on my lap.  Even at the age of 16, Belle never acted like she was in her geriatric years.
On October 12, 2009, Belle suffered a stroke.  I knew in my heart it wouldn’t be long before I would have to say ‘good-bye’ to my Baby-Belle.  I lay on the floor for 3 days with her whispering in her ear telling her what a great job she did taking care of her family.  I reassured her that we would be ok and I would see her soon.  I told her I loved her and by Saturday she was gone.  I can still see those big brown eyes full of love and comfort.  I’ve lost close friends and even a parent but nothing compares to the emptiness of losing Belle.

— sue from Indianapolis, IN