Dear Bella: A Love Letter

Dear Bella: A Love Letter

  • Erin Swanson

Dear Bella, 

I can still remember the first time I held you. It was Easter Sunday (2015) and you were only 4-weeks-old. I had driven across town to a small house in the suburbs of Denver, full of excitement and nerves, to meet you.

A woman holds a newborn Bernese Mountain Dog puppy.

When I first picked you up, you were so tiny that you fit in the palm of my hand. I watched as you squirmed around on a blanket with your brothers and sisters, whining and trying to figure out this strange world. 

A close up of a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy looking into the camera.

One month later, I got to bring you home with me, forever. I remember thinking that your paws were huge but your heart was bigger. Little did I know how much you were about to change my life. 

A Bernese Mountain Dog puppy lies down in the grass.

THE EARLY DAYS

You were born on Pi Day, 3.14; as a nerd, this has made remembering your birthday easy peasy. People always ask if I make you a pie on your birthday, but I think the secret is out: your guilty pleasure is peanut butter pancakes with a side of whipped cream. No birthday pies in this house! 

A 2-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog wears a birthday crown and gets ready to eat peanut butter pancakes.

As my first puppy, I wasn’t sure what to expect when raising you. From day one, you have always been so calm and easy – I wondered if I had just hit the jackpot or if your rambunctious attitude was going to kick in when we made it to the “terrible twos.” But it never showed up.

You’ve always been down for any adventure, whether I want to lay on the couch and binge a new show on Netflix or climb a 14,000 ft peak at 4 a.m.   

LOTS OF FIRSTS 

From sleeping under the stars to barking at trash cans, we’ve enjoyed a lot of firsts together: your first snow, your first car ride, your first 14er, your first camping trip, your first swim … and of course, the first time you scared yourself with a fart. 

A Bernese Mountain Dog puppy lies down in the snow.

The first time you saw snow, we were playing at the park behind my downtown Denver apartment. You stood there, ankle deep in spring snow, and barked at it. After a while, you rolled around, made a doggy snow angel and devoured a few snowballs as if they were your new favorite treat. Winter is clearly your favorite season. 

A Bernese Mountain Dog stands in the snow with mountains and pine trees behind her.

Your first 14er was Mount Sherman. We slept in the car overnight (like we had many times), woke up early to be on the trail by 5 a.m. and walked through the dark up a steep trail until the sun peeked over the ridge. You were happy as can be, running laps up and down the trail, urging me to hike faster.

We were serenaded on the summit by a cello and violin duo – what a dreamy morning together. After I saw how happy you were, I knew we would hike many more trails together. 

A woman stands with her Bernese Mountain Dog on top of Mount Sherman.

Your first swim didn’t go as smoothly as the other firsts. We had hiked into Potato Lake and you got excited about a large stick floating 20 yards off the shore. Without hesitating, you jumped in and immediately freaked out when your feet didn’t touch solid ground.

A Bernese Mountain Dog wears a life jacket by the side of a lake.

You were able to doggy paddle back to shore, but I think it scared you a lot because after that you would only wade chest deep into the water and whine at sticks that were seemingly out of reach. To this day, you are not a swimmer, but I love that you still enjoy to cool off in a shallow river or wade on the beach of a lake.  

A Bernese Mountain Dog wades into a clear lake.

GETTING OLDER 

But our story has had its fair share of heartbreak, too. 

When you were two-years-old, I took you in for a routine teeth cleaning and you died on the operating table. They brought you back to life, but I thought you weren’t going to make it. That was one of the worst days of my life.

You sat with me on the kitchen floor for hours while I cried when I found out a friend passed away. You’ve been with me through breakups and new beginnings. Through it all, you’ve always been my favorite cuddle buddy at the end of a long day. 

A Bernese Mountain Dog sits on the sand by the side of a lake.

Now that you are almost seven, your health is starting to fail, you are slowing down and adventure looks different for us. I cherish every walk around the block, every romp at the dog park and every lazy morning when we stay in bed until 10 a.m. – when neither of us are ready to start the day.

A Bernese Mountain Dog sleeps in her owner's bed.

Bella, you are my ride or die, my best friend, my favorite hello, and my hardest goodbye (when I can’t bring you on an adventure). Thank you for seven years of love and adventure – here’s to more snuggles, more puppy kisses, and more adventures. I love you, best friend! 

. . .

Kami York-Feirn is the Social Media Coordinator here at Ruffwear. In her free time, she enjoys mountain biking, hiking with her dog Bella, snowboarding, camping and off-roading; pretty much anything to get her outside. When not outside, you can find her at a local coffee shop, working on her first book.

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