On May 15, for reasons unknown to me, I brought up the Lycoming County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website, "just to look."
Posted there was the most adorable, scruffy and yes, funny looking dog named Hannah, that I had ever seen. I was so smitten by her darling face and soulful eyes that I sent her picture to my daughter in North Carolina and asked her, "What do you think? Is this a cat, a rat or a dog?" She immediately sent back a note asking me what the name of my "new dog" was.
Now you should know that we lost our beloved Jasmine, a beautiful flat-coated retriever - also adopted from the Lycoming County SPCA - in July 2011 after 15 wonderful years and I had vowed that I was not going to get another dog for at least a year - if ever!
Debb Berninger is shown with Bella Blue, who she adopted from the Lycoming County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
But every day that week, I would pull up the website and see if "Hannah" had been adopted. And each time, her tiny face called out to me to at least come meet her. So, that Friday I left work early and headed up to meet this dog - who I already renamed Bella, because it means beauty, and Blue, because of the color of her coat.
That first meeting was all it took. Bella was the most loving, snuggly little package of dog-joy that I had ever held in my arms! I adopted her on the spot.
To my disappointment, I was not allowed to take my dog home that day because she had not been spayed. So I had to wait a week. I went to the SPCA to visit with her several times during that waiting period and took her for walks and talked to her and told her about her new home and how much she was going to love it there.
Each time I went into the SPCA, she seemed to recognize me and would hug me when I picked her up.
When the day finally arrived, I packed up all her new "accessories" and raced to the SPCA as soon as I could to pick up my Bella Blue.
Once home, she actually smiled and laughed as she rolled in the grass and baked in the sunshine. She lounges on the couch with her new pink blankie as if she always has belonged there.
It was not until we were home together and had bonded for about a month that this incredible creature revealed an amazing hidden talent to me - in the middle of the night, no less.
One night, this little dog just would not leave me alone. She was licking my face and burrowing against my chest with an urgency I could not ignore.
Confused and pulled from my sleep, I stumbled out of bed to see if she needed to go out. Once I stood up, I knew what was happening. I am a brittle diabetic, which means that I suffer from extreme high and low sugar episodes, which come on without warning and can be life threatening. I was in a severe low!
Dizzy and disoriented, I stumbled to the kitchen to get some juice. Bella stayed right by my side and place her little paw on my arm when I sat down on the couch, as if to say, "Hey, Mama, you OK?" This has happened twice now, where she has acted as a natural diabetic alert dog on my behalf.
As they say, one good deed deserves another. It turns out that this tiny angel has her own ailments.
She suffers from seizures and is being tested for possible epilepsy. When she is having a seizure, I hold her close and stroke her coat and talk softly to her until it is over.
I am hopeful that with the proper medication and treatment, Bella Blue will live a long, happy and comfortable life with me. But I know that even if I only have her for a limited amount of time, we were brought together to look after one another and love each and every moment that we share.