From the archives: This story was last updated in June 2019.
It happens all too often. In a rush of enthusiasm, a family gets a dog without thinking about the consequences. They just see a beautiful puppy without thinking about the fact that just like their kids, that little dog is going to need love, attention, exercise, and discipline.
One family in Dallas, Texas, got into such a situation in 2018 with a gorgeous dog named Bella, who is a Blue Lacy, a special Texas working-dog breed. These dogs are energetic and intelligent and are designed to be very active, not to be parked in a tiny yard all day. Rather than trying to find a way to channel her energy, they avoided responsibility for the situation and dumped her off at a shelter.
While Bella had done nothing but be the puppy the family had said they wanted, she was now being unfairly punished for it. The dog was clearly heartbroken to be separated from her pack and held on for dear life to the only memento she had of her previous life: a giant teddy bear they had left with her.
As Jennifer Jessup, an animal welfare advocate and dog rescuer, told The Dodo, things were as bad as they could be for Bella. “She basically lost everything she’s ever known, and at 1 year old, [she] found herself in a loud, scary place where they euthanize for space.”
Bella was in bad shape psychologically, completely afraid of the shelter workers, and had withdrawn into her own world with only the teddy bear to remind her of the happy life she’d once had. That’s when an angel found her in the form of Jessup.
Jessup’s brother Jim, who lives in Florida, had become very interested in the Blue Lacy breed and asked his savvy sister if there was a rescue dog that needed a home. Jessup went online and found Bella through TAGG (Tornado Alley Gentle Giants) rescue, an organization that helps place large-breed rescues from Texas, which has overcrowded shelters that often euthanize, with families in the Midwest.
Bella came up on the search, and the Jessup siblings sprang into action to rescue her before it was too late. A Texas-based friend of Jennifer Jessup’s “got her out of the shelter with her teddy bear, and took her to this boarding facility, where they gave her a bath and made sure all of her paperwork was in order,” as she told The Dodo.
While Jim Jessup was waiting to have her transferred to Florida, a foster family in Texas took her out of the shelter and tried to restore some of her faith in humanity. However, as Jessup told The Dodo, she was “without her teddy bear, and she was curled up in a little ball, just scared to death.” The only thing that would soothe her was the big bear.
Finally, the Jessups managed to get Bella down to Florida, with her bear of course, and have been working on making her feel safe in her new home. They posted a heartbreaking video showing a very nervous and reluctant Bella getting offered a treat, which she refuses at first, and finally eating out of Jim Jessup’s hand.
As for Bella, after the move, Jessup told The Dodo that “she is calming down slowly, and he is … giving her lots and lots of affection and quiet time.” And her brother? “He’s in love!” Here’s to great rescue teamwork and hoping that Bella will finally be able to learn how to trust again.
The story is a great reminder to, as Jessup posted on her Facebook feed, #adoptdontshop.