Noodle Girl

My husband has said that every photo of Bella looks like it uses a stretch filter. When we first met her, the day we took her home, I had no idea what to do with her. Our previous dog had been a solid white, fluffy husky with ice blue eyes. Hugging her was like hugging a little bear. Hugging Bella was like hugging muscle and skin with the slightest layer of smooth fur. Bella felt wild and ready to bolt. She was afraid of hugs around the neck, which our former dog loved. Even if she didn’t love it, she never tried to pull away. Needless to say, Bella was unexpected. If I got too close, she would tell me not to come any closer. She hated being snuggled when she napped. My husky girl would let me curl up beside her and be nose to nose when she slept. She even let our babies crawl in her crate with her. (I don’t recommend this in general, because a crate is a dog’s special, safe place and children might get hurt if a dog feels the need to protect their space.) At first, I tried to keep them out of her crate, until I realized that their cries of distress at being prevented from being with her seemed to upset her more than them being in her space. She was unbelievably special and when I’m ready, I’ll show some photos of her as well. My husky girl was truly one of the most gorgeous dogs I’ve ever seen and my eldest wrote letters to her and asked his first grade teacher to mail them to heaven. How could I ever love a dog like I loved her again? I tried to remember with Bella that our husky wasn’t always that open to contact either, that she wasn’t always such a wonderful friend and guardian. She was afraid of men and bonded specifically with me. I worked for that though, sleeping on the floor with her, feeding her, taking her for walks, petting her, talking to her, every day, day after day after day. By the time I was pregnant with our first baby, our husky was my shadow and we knew when I went into labor because she sat on my feet and wouldn’t leave. She loved both of our babies, but had they been around when we first adopted her, she might have struggled too. I tried to remember this and not compare the two dogs, because Bella, at times, felt so utterly different that I worried we wouldn’t bond, that she’d always be just a bit out of reach. I sat in the floor of the van all the way back from picking Bella up, so she’d know that I was hers. I respected when she told me that she wasn’t up for petting and I found big, fenced in fields where she could be wild and bolt freely. Eventually, I did learn to love her sinewy frame and I began to crave it, just like I had before. Today, she’ll jump up into my bed while I’m reading or working and squeeze her head behind my back. I think it’s her version of hugging me around the neck, on her terms, in her time, when she wants. She also tells us when the boys are sick, because she tries to get into their room at night, instead of lounging on the couch with her feet up in the air like she normally does. Bella is a very different dog and I love her in a very different way, but I love her nonetheless. It’s a powerful thing, learning to love again in new ways. I miss my husky. Sometimes, I’ll see photos of her and I feel her fur and I see her eyes, piercing me from across the room, and I ache for her, because she was mine and we fought for the relationship we had. Bella is mine too, and me and my noodle girl, we’re pretty good at fighting for us too.


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