From tough beginnings to better lives, rescue pets often inspire people with their perseverance. In fact, one Connecticut dog is changing lives with her story.
These days you will find Bella spending her time at work as a therapy dog. She visits schools, hospitals and retirement homes, such as Academy Point at Mystic.
Bella is 10 1/2 years old, and her life is full of meaning and love. However, like a true underdog tale, Bella’s story didn’t start out this way.
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“Like a dog unleashed running full out, like the white streak that was Bella,” read Bella’s owner, Jean Baur.
Baur lives in Stonington and wrote a book based on Bella's life called “Joy Unleashed: The Story of Bella, the Unlikely Therapy Dog.” Bella’s story started far from Connecticut on a beach in Puerto Rico.
“Dead Dog Beach is particularly sad because dogs are not only dumped there, they are tortured, they are killed, so she was a very lucky survivor,” said Baur.
Baur adopted Bella and notes that, at first, the transition was tough.
“She was a wild puppy. She was so wild in fact we had to have her on a leash in the house,” said Baur.
The vet suggested something to keep Bella busy: to work as a therapy dog.
“I think Bella communicates with residents in a way people can't,” said Nancy Chaput, the director of community relations at Academy Point, an assisted living center for seniors.
Chaput said Bella has brought so much joy to the residents, that most of them have read her book. The book helps speak for Bella, but really it’s her wagging tail and constant companionship that is her real communication.
“I wish my Bichon was here, but my Bichon is gone. And to see another dog here it's a wonderful feeling. It's a feeling of home again,” said Marge Ciminera, a resident of Academy Point.
It’s a welcome home, only a rescue can understand.
“Bella didn't mind not having the words, she spoke fluently with her whole body, a gift to all she serves and was simply joy unleashed,” the book closed.