Who is in the photo at right?
I'm the human, Leslie Olyott and that's my beautiful, crazy dog Bella with me. I'm a computer programmer specializing in web applications. Bella is my 4-year-old scared-y dog and the star of our blog, Bringing up Bella. She's a mixed breed sato (slang for stray or street dog) rescued off the streets of Puerto Rico by a group called Save a Sato.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
During the summer, Bella and I have a little tradition of dropping by Dunkin Donuts drive-thru for coffee and a crueller so she can get more comfortable with people. Then we travel to a local school field and she gets to romp while I sip my coffee. However, since we're doing this interview in January, and it's a whopping 6 degrees outside, today we're just having coffee in our living room at home.
Green Mountain Lake and Lodge medium roast. 1 Truvia, a little half and half.
Any goodies to go with the coffee?
Just an English muffin.
Any treat for Bella on this occasion?
She gets a nibble of the muffin.
How were you and Bella united?
Bella found me while I was perusing pups at Buddy Dog Humane Society shortly after having lost my 14 year old Labrador Retriever, Beau. She was huddled in the back of her cage so I knelt down and quietly called her name. She came right up to me so wiggly and kissy that I had to take her out for a visit. When we heard that she had never done that to anyone before, that she only cowered in her cage and wouldn't even approach the shelter staff, we knew we had to bring her home with us.
How did Bella get her name? Any aliases?
Bella came to us from Puerto Rico already named. Since Bella is the Spanish feminine of 'beautiful' and my Lab's name (Beau) was the French masculine of the same, it seemed like fate that she should come to us and we never considered changing her name.
Nicknames, however, we've given in abundance: Bella Boo, Boo Boo, Bella Boop, Pumpkin, Princess, Duckling, Sweet Pea... If it's a term of endearment, I've probably used it.
Squirrel, cat, postman...?
All of the above. In fact, if I may, I'd like to publicly and profusely apologize to our mail person, as well as the UPS and FedEx guys. Bella doesn't think anyone (or anything) should be in her yard without permission and is not bashful about saying so.
Tennis ball, Frisbee, squeaky-toy...?
None of the above. Bella likes to chew and loves her bully bones but her favorite toy is me, really. We play chase and wrestle although she's beginning to outgrow the rough-housing. This is a dog that is afraid of people and my rough-housing with her never ran the risk that she would associate doing this with other people. She doesn't let other people get close enough to pet her, never mind rumble with her. It is a game only she and I play, even my husband doesn't get a turn.
Where is Bella's favorite place for an outing?
Anywhere, really. She just likes to be included. She especially loves going to my mom's house because there's a big fenced-in yard and she can run and romp to her heart's content.
Who are Bella's best pet-pals?
Bella is largely afraid of other dogs but she does have a boyfriend - a beautiful, patient Borzoi named Gus. He backs off when she gets scared and that has done so much for her confidence. He's in love with her and she loves telling him what to do. It's a match made in heaven.
What is Bella's most endearing quality?
Bella is really silly and is learning to be cuddly (in her own way) with us. She's also quite charming when she wants to be. She comes to us for protection when something frightens her which is terribly sweet and yet she still has so much curiosity and zest for life. I guess it would be that - her resilience and joie de vivre even in the face of all she's seen that I find most endearing.
If Bella could change one thing about New Englanders, what would it be?
Well, I'm sure she'd like us to pronounce our "R's" so she could understand us better. But short of that, I think she'd like us to adopt "island time". We tend to be a pretty quick paced bunch up here and I think Bella would rather we slow down and chill with her a little more. She likes to let me know when I've been working at the computer too long and will sit behind me mumbling. If that doesn't work, she steals my stuff.
What is Bella's proudest moment?
Bella has had a lot of proud moments because she's had to overcome so many fears but I think the one that stands out is when she conquered the stairs. Bella was born on the streets and, until she came to live with us, had never encountered stairs before. It took a few weeks of carrying her part-way down the staircase before she decided one evening to take the plunge and do the whole set by herself. She barked when she got to the bottom so we would know she was down there and the pride on her face as she stood there looking up at us was unmistakable. She then proceeded to run up and down the stairs 12 times. (Seriously, 12. I counted.)
If Bella could speak in a movie about your life, what actor would you have doing her voice?
Rita Moreno. She is warm and wise but can also capture that street-smart sass which would be absolutely necessary for Bella's voice. (I'm thinking circa 1961 West Side Story's "Anita".)
Visit the Bringing up Bella blog.