I had to help Belle to the Rainbow Bridge today (March 27, 2009). As some of you know, she was diagnosed in January with osteosarcoma in her rear leg and suffered a pathologic fracture about 3 weeks ago. The pain became unmanageable for Belle, for Beeler (my other Greyhound), and for me. Belle, who raced under the name Oreo Snow, was a pistol and totally stirred up our quiet little family. We called her, fondly, “Large Marge in Charge.” Belle was a huge female, weighing close to 80 pounds when she was healthy, with absolutely no fat. When we first got her, our male, Beeler, was as close to a spook dog as you can get. He was (and still is, don’t get me wrong) petrified of the most curious things. He also didn’t know how to play. We got him young (less than 2), and he had no idea what to do with a “squeaky toy.” Belle showed him (and how!). She came into our home and into our hearts with a vengeance. She assessed the roles of the various parties in the family, and assumed the Alpha position immediately. She brought Beeler out of his shell and taught him many things of the world. All toys given to both dogs became hers for demonstration purposes and breaking in. But, Beeler was not to be outdone. A few Christmases ago, we predictably overdid it with toys for the pups. Of course, Lady Belle made the power grab and confiscated all 6 toys for herself. Our master bedroom is on the main floor of our home, and that is where the pups sleep. I was sitting in our living room watching television, and I observed Beeler picking each toy up from under the tree and trotting back toward the bedroom with it in his mouth. After about the third trip, I decided to follow him. The little dickens was hoarding them at the rear of his crate. I watched to be sure he got them all, and he went and lay down on top of them. I wasn’t the only one watching this. Belle saw what was happening and crafted a solution. She went to the breakfast room window and started barking. Of course, this precipitated in Beeler having to come out and investigate what was going on, thereby leaving his cache. Belle doubled back, and one-by-one returned all of the toys to their rightful place under the tree. She was a true treasure. Her reputation in Pensacola was the source of legend. She was aggressive with a very high prey drive, but a dear insecure little girl in her forever home. She had to be wherever you were in the house. If you got up to go to the kitchen, she would follow and assume the position on her bed in there. Roger and I adored her. I learned from Belle that it is okay to put it all out there and be true to who you are. She also taught me that behind every wall of bluster may lurk a shy loving creature just wanting to be loved in return. And we did, baby girl. Run and play! You earned it.