The Belle’s, Part II

I asked Sarah for advice on where to take Belle to the vet. She said she knew a receptionist at a vet in a city that wasn’t that close to me. Because she knew her and I didn’t have anything better to go by, I went there and that became Belle’s doctor. Unfortunately, they were not familiar with snow dogs. We weren’t really sure how old Belle was and she looked and acted like a puppy (and she did for nine years of the ten I had her). The vet said she was 6 months and we went with that. Backed the time up and we said her birthday was April 13th, 2007. As a responsible owner (I heard it a million times from Bob Barker, “Always spay and neuter your pets”), I decided to get my dog spayed. Drove the distance (well out of my way) and dropped her off for the day. Mid-day, I got a call saying they anesthetized her and shaved her (this is something you never do to a snow dog as the fur never grows back right) and they said they saw the scar. She had already been spayed. Because they put her to sleep (not the long one), they charged me $350 for the procedure. Looking back, they damaged my dog by shaving her to the skin and charged me for a procedure they did not do.

Recently, I have read about the average price of getting a husky spayed. $250 seemed pricey. Doing the math, I really got screwed. As for the fur, when you look at the coat of a snow dog, it is notable that they actually have two layers. The top coat (guard hairs) and the bottom coat. Between the two, they create an insulation that allows them to stay warm in winter and cool in summer. It also protects from bug bites, sunburn, and apparently skin cancer. First, when someone says not shaving a snow dog is cruel because they must be burning up, it is actually the opposite. Shaving a snow dog is cruel as it is destroying their protection. Second, give them plenty of water, keep them in the shade, and brush them often because matting is another enemy of theirs. So, every time I took my dog to the vet, they shaved her hindquarters to get closer to her skin, and her underbelly was bared during the spaying incident. As time progressed, both sides of her rear and her belly stopped growing fur. I didn’t think too much of it and Belle was such a chill dog most of the time (just don’t contain her or ignore her) that it didn’t matter much.

I recently got Lily spayed and she was shaved as well, and it was a great concern of mine. The difference, they didn’t shave to her skin and her fur grew back perfectly. Just need to keep up with the brushing, as those mats can be a bother. Belle loved to be brushed and it was something we did every Sunday. It was brushing day and I was slowly building another dog with all the fur that came off of her. She would clump. On our walks, we would pause and I would pluck her like a chicken getting rid of all of the tufts of fur that would come to the surface. She kind of enjoyed it, and I didn’t really care as I was having fun. The birds loved it too, as I saw a few nests with her fur in it over time. One thing I did note while playing with her fur this way, as she had a little a cowlick. It was odd for a dog but kinda cute. She had an area on her back where her guard fur shot up and off to the left when looking at her from the front. I felt her and noticed there was a bit of a lump there, but the vet said it was a cyst and not that big a deal. If it bothered me, we could get it removed. As they charged me $350 for a procedure that didn’t work, I was a bit concerned about how much that removal for something benign would cost, so I left it.

A few months passed and I got into a routine with her. I would go to work, she would be crated, and I would take her out when I got home. She was happy about that but still didn’t like being caged or contained in any way. She tried her hardest to get out of the crate, but eventually, she got used to it.

One day, after just getting a travel crate for Belle, I brought her to Sarah’s house. I was there to take Sarah to the doctor, so we needed to leave Belle alone, hence the travel crate. Set it up downstairs, reassured her, and went on our way. Forty-five minutes later, Sarah got a call from her daughter, screaming bloody murder. There was a creature in the house and it jumped on her while she was sleeping. Turns out, it took less than 45 minutes for Belle to figure a way out of the crate and investigate the house, find a warm body, and say hello. That crate was never used again.

And then I met Sarah (well another Sarah). We dated for a week (exactly seven days). As short a time as that was, it had a major impact on Belle. Sarah lived around the block from me. Maybe two miles. For all seven of those days, because she was so close, I hung out with her until late in the evening. After torturing Belle the first weekend that I had her, I tried as hard as I could to get home as soon as possible and let her out of her crate. There were occasional late nights, but late meant 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. at the latest. Hanging with Sarah became 11 p.m. at the earliest and 2 a.m. on a bad day. Belle started acting out and I was never able to get her to be the same again. She peed in her crate. Tried to get out as strongly as possible, eventually breaking off all of her teeth. She broke through the original cage and I replaced it with another and then another. Over time, she went through five crates and four canines, as well as all her other teeth. When she did get out of the crate, she started digging on my leather couch after peeing on it, creating a much easier environment to destroy it. She dug a hole in my carpet (I eventually tiled most of the house) and destroyed my bedroom door. After dating that Sarah for a week, my life was completely different.

She was my re-Belle, but I really should say Miss re-Belle, and when I left her, I did miss re-Belle. But she missed me too, and she protected me. I read that Malamutes did not fight, they killed. And although she was she was a small dog, for the breed, I had concerns that she might do something I would regret, other than destroying the house. I would take her on her walks around the neighborhood and for whatever reason, dogs would come out of nowhere and attack. Most of the time this was during the day so I was not surprised when I saw them coming. Because this happened so often, I decided to walk her at night. It was also better because she was out of the sunlight and had less of a chance of getting sunburned and possibly skin cancer.

December 30th. I remember it because it was so close to New Year’s and caused an issue. I was walking her and we got about as far as we would go before turning around. There was an opened field and a boxer came from somewhere in the area. There was also a fence further back and a single house. On our regular walks, we would pass a dog that barked every time we passed and would not let up until we were long gone. I assume it was the same dog. Regardless, this dog that was in front of us stopped and growled. Belle was getting agitated and defensive. She was actually trying to protect me. Again, she was only 32 pounds at her heaviest. It was great because I could always pick her up, stick her on my shoulder, and move her where I wanted to if she bothered me. “Get off the couch. No?” and I would proceed to pick her up and move her to another room. Anyway, my little pup was acting tough and this scared me because she could kill this other dog. I pulled her right next to my left side and made sure she was as close to me as possible. All the while, the other dog was growling and then lunged at me. Keep in mind, I was on a public sidewalk. Because I did not know the law at the time, I did not know I could defend myself and attack the dog. Not that I wanted to cause harm to it, but I should have been able to defend myself. Instead, and again, not wanting to harm the dog, I kicked near the dog’s head, intentionally missing it. The boxer took advantage of this and bit my leg. Latched on to it was more like it. Belle, wanting to protect me, was at my side, but so tightly reigned with the leash and as close to me as possible, that she couldn’t do anything. I dragged both dogs, one at my side, and the other attached to my leg, to the call box at the house that I thought the dog came from. I reached for the number pad and the boxer leaped from my leg to my arm and latched on again. As difficult as it was to make the phone call, I did it anyway. I got an answering machine and left a message. “Sir [as it was a male voice that answered], I would like to inform you that a dog, that I presume is yours just attacked me on your property. My name is Phillip Fromer and I can be reached at [left out for my protection]. He is currently on my arm. Thank you.” One must remain calm in these situations. After the call was ended, the dog let go and ran off towards the fence. I then called 911 and they asked where I was. Due to recent construction on the road, I wasn’t sure, as they redirected one of the roads and the names changed. The fire department showed first, and they had no issue finding me. I dealt with a paramedic, who bandaged me and suggested I call animal control. He also suggested I deal with the possibility of rabies. I filed a report with a police officer and he checked the house. No one was home, as it seemed. Everyone loved Belle and was concerned about how she was doing through all of this. She was a trooper and it made no difference. She just loved the attention.

I took Belle home and we went to sleep for the night. I was kind of OK but I would need the dog’s records. As it turned out, that would be the biggest issue I needed to deal with.

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