A while back, I wrote a post about how I made the decision to attend LMU. In addition to the generosity of our financial aid office, the luxury of the residence life buildings, and the sincerity of the professors, one of the biggest deciding factors for me was my grandfather, or “Papaw”, as I called him. Papaw was also a Railsplitter in the 1950s, and with the degree he received here, he went on to become a widely respected teacher in my hometown. He loved his time at LMU, and his greatest dream was to see my brother and me go here, too. Unfortunately, he suffered a massive stroke in the late 1980s, leaving him paralyzed down his left side. My grandmother, Mamaw, spent the better part of their marriage caring for him, since he couldn’t care for himself. When she fell ill herself a few years ago, she hired someone to help her with the big things, but she still did as much as she possibly could. She cared for Papaw every day until he passed away peacefully in February 2011, just a few months before I graduated high school. He never got to actually see me walk across the stage to receive my diploma or move into my dorm room, but I know he would have been proud.
About two years after he died, Mamaw started to feel a little bit lonely, and she asked us if she could get a dog. Not just any dog, either—she wanted a dachshund. I was almost more excited than she was because I had always wanted a dachshund. And Mamaw having a dachshund meant that the rest of the family had a dachshund, too, right? Needless to say, when we finally found Mamaw a chiweenie, a dachshund-Chihuahua mixed breed, named Bella, I was immediately smitten with her. Bella was the cutest, tiniest, silliest little dog I had ever seen, and I just had a feeling she was going to be a great addition to our family.
We couldn’t have been more right; Bella has turned out to be the perfect family pet. We’ve always had big dogs, like the basset hound and German shepherd mix we currently own, so having a smaller dog for the first time was different and exciting. Bella is much easier to care for and significantly lower maintenance. She doesn’t shed quite as terribly on every article of clothing or piece of furniture, and going for a walk around the neighborhood is much more pleasant because she doesn’t try to walk you. She’s also very easily entertained; just throw one of her many, many squeaky toys across the room and she’ll happily bring it back all day long. If it’s been a very long day and all you want to do is lie down on the couch and rest your eyes, she’s comfortable with curling up for a nap as well. In fact, she fits perfectly in the bend of your legs or against your shoulder, and she’ll stay right by you until you wake back up and you’re ready to play again.
But most importantly, Bella is a very faithful companion and guardian for my Mamaw. She follows her around everywhere just like a little shadow. When Mamaw sits down to have lunch, Bella is right there to make sure everything is to her liking (in other words, to beg for table scraps while putting on her best sad puppy dog eyes). When Mamaw retires to the living room to watch her favorite television game shows, Bella finds the perfect spot on the couch to gaze out the window (or guard the house from squirrels and trees and bark at every car that goes by). And when a family member drops by to bring Mamaw some fresh groceries, Bella is ready to help carry in the bags of goodies (or follow on that person’s heels and attempt to jump into the car and go for a ride). They spend every moment of every day together, and it’s clear to see what a perfect match they are for each other.
This week I mainly wanted to write a sappy blog post about how much I love this little dog. When I’m home I upload so many pictures of her to Instagram that people tend to think she’s actually my dog. Not going to lie, if LMU had pet-friendly housing, it would be hard to talk myself out of bringing her here with me. But I see how happy she makes Mamaw and how silly they are together and I know that that’s where she needs to be. I miss her whenever I’m away on duty or studying for a big test, but getting some puppy cuddles is a nice stress reliever when I finally do get to come home. And she’s made Mamaw’s once dark and dreary world so much brighter, and I’m forever grateful for that. Thank you, Bella-dog. I love you! 🙂