One week ago today I was faced with a hard and difficult decision.
On June 10, 1997, I witnessed an amazing event. My neighbor's cocker spaniel delivered four puppies in my room at home. We tried to move her outside to the screened-in porch, but she would not have it. She insisted that she deliver indoors where it was cool and alongside my mom, sister, and I which she knew would take good care of her newborn pups. After covering the floor thickly with old towels, my mom, sister, and I watched as 4 puppies entered the world. Puppy #1 was a big healthy boy. Puppy #2 was also a boy. Then puppy #3 was born. She was a sweet little girl. Then when we thought it was all over, puppy #4 was delivered. It was another little boy. He was the runt of the litter and was half the size of his biggest brother. After the deliveries we watched and assisted Clara Belle remove the sacks from all the sweet puppies and watched as they each took their first breaths.
It was an event that I was grateful to be a part of. Michael and I were wed 2 1/2 weeks later and we kidded that Clara Belle wanted to give us a wedding present of a puppy. And that she did! Two weeks after Michael and I returned from our honeymoon my sister and mom brought us our "first baby."
I had requested the baby girl of the litter and our neighbors gave her to us. We were so happy to be "parents" and named her Anna Belle (Belle after her sweet Momma).
Me with Anna Belle about 1 week after her birth
Anna Belle about 12 weeks old
Little did we know how Anna Belle would bless our family. She was our "first baby" and became the subject of many "firsts" pictures.
Our First Christmas
Little did Anna Belle also know what her birthday would behold every year. How many doggies are forced encouraged to wear a party hat for their celebration?
So we ended up with the little girl of the litter. My mom, dad, and sister ended up with the runt who they named Jack. A year later our neighbors gave the "big boy," Woody, to my mom and dad. And then within another year they gave Clara Belle to mom and dad since they couldn't care for her after having a new baby. (We aren't sure who got the other little boy.) From this point our lives almost always involved 4 sweet doggies.
Jack, Woody, Anna Belle, Clara Belle
Anna Belle fit perfectly in our family and was a sweet big sister to each of her siblings which she helped me mother.
Anna Belle with Olivia
Anna Belle with Isaac
Anna Belle with Joshua
Anna Belle, Isaac, and Olivia watching for Michael to get home
My two June birthday girls
Every Christmas we take a picture of Anna Belle retrieving her biscuits out of her stocking.
And every year on June 10 we have pictures of Anna Belle dressed in her party hat celebrating her birthday.
Anna Belle and Woody
Family trip to Hilton Head Island 2010
Last Monday, March 18, I was faced with a difficult and heart breaking decision and in another way I was given a true blessing. I was privileged to be with and hold Anna Belle as she took her final breath.
Anna Belle was my first pet and I had the amazing and unusual experience of being with her as she was born and as she passed. What a truly special gift God gave me!
Anna Belle blessed our family for 15 years and 9 months. My life hasn't been the same this last week. Different from any other time in my married life. As a family we laid Anna Belle to rest on the outskirts of our woods underneath a huge pine tree, paid our respects, and decorated her grave with beautiful roses. Many tears were shed and Isaac drew a picture of Anna Belle complete with her heart in heaven.
Although I still have a huge hole left in my heart today, I have been comforted in knowing that my Anna Belle is in heaven feeling good again with her little brother, Jack, and her Momma, Clara Belle again .... probably chasing squirrels. :)
March 18, 2013