Love Story: Bella the Great Dane

Three and a half years ago, after my sister moved back to California with her dog Fury, my mum was looking to adopt another dog, as her big house on the bay in Long Island felt lonely without one. She had always dreamed of owning a Great Dane, and after some searches found a couple looking to have their dog adopted because they were moving to a smaller place down south and didn’t think they would have enough room for her.

Bella arrived one Sunday afternoon in March 2009. A pure breed blue Great Dane, tall even for this species of dog, super skinny and extremely skittish. When her original owners left her at the house all she could do was run in circles around the couch and pee with fright whenever we tried to approach her. My mum spent months and months coaxing her out of her frightened shell, making her feel at home and safe, training her to walk on a leash (in the three years of her life she had never walked outside of a backyard on a leash), and trying to understand why she was so scared of everything. Ever tried to hold a scared Great Dane on a leash when the wind ruffles something in a bush, or a car honks suddenly? It’s like trying to hold down a bolting, non-broken colt. They jump in the air. High. Taking all of their 100+ pound weight with them. We realised that Bella had not been treated well, probably abused, and never loved and cared for in the way that she should have been. There were days when I know my mum was near to giving up, but she never did.

Three years down the line, Bella is a happy, 150+ pound dog who now lives in California with my mum, sister and brother, Fury and the fat cat Muffin. She is much loved and cared for, and spends her time following my mum around the garden, sleeping on her bed right by my mum’s desk while she is working and demanding cuddles and hugs whenever she can. There is not a sweeter, more docile and gentle dog in the world. I spent a lot of time with her on Long Island before my mum moved back to California too. I taught her to run in the snow after the blizzards at the end of 2010, let her use my bed as her own when I wasn’t in it, taught her how to jump on the couch and watch Lost with me, even though she wasn’t really allowed to, and helped my mum teach her that it was OK to be happy and be loved, and that she didn’t need to be scared of anything anymore. I obviously don’t get to see her much anymore, a couple of times a year when I am able to go and visit my family in California, but she always remembers my voice, always follows me around like a devoted friend, and always looks up at me with those big eyes full of love. It’s amazing what a lot of love and caring can do for an animal. It makes me happy to think that although her first three years were probably full of pain, fear and abuse, at least the three years after that were full of love and happiness.

A few weeks ago the vet diagnosed Bella with bone cancer. It started in her back leg, and although it hasn’t travelled to her lungs or other organs yet, it will. There is nothing anyone can do but make her feel comfortable until she is not comfortable anymore. Painkillers and muscle relaxers, and a lot of help walking around, as the lump in her leg is growing and jumping up on couches and running around aren’t really options anymore. From talks with my mum and the rest of the family I gather that her condition is worsening quite fast, and it breaks my heart to think that I may never get to run around the garden, cuddle her or just talk to her again. It breaks my heart even more to think of what my mum is going through right now, because even though she is putting on a tough face, I can hear her heart breaking across the thousands of miles that separate us. 

My mum, who also happens to be a wonderful photographer, has been documenting Bella’s life in our family from day 1, and it’s amazing to see how she has grown and changed over the years, from the skinny, scared shell of a dog, to the big, happy, mischievous dog that she is now. The collection of photos that she has put together can be found HERE. The first page also contains Bella’s story in my mum’s words.

"Little" Bellington - giant dog with a heart of gold <3>

Real winter in orange and yellow

IcicleBay shotDirt roadShirley BeachShirley BeachShirley Beach
Shirley BeachShirley BeachShirley BeachShirley BeachShirley BeachShirley Beach
Shirley BeachShirley BeachFlags & Gas StationGrocery store, Mastic BeachThe abandoned house I see every dayEarly morning walk round the bay
GeeseThe sky matches the waterReedsTracksSnow moundsMarina

Film - Orange/Yellow, a set on Flickr.

I've been working so hard on my novel and working hard at my jobs, so I haven't really had too much time to post on my blog this week. I was perusing some old photo albums on my Flickr and found this one from January 2011... We've had such a mild winter this year that looking back at these makes me realise how lucky we have been!

These were all taken with my Canon AE-1, using a 35mm ISO 100 Lomo negative film without flash. Most in Mastic Beach on Long Island before my mum moved back to California, but some in NYC. I miss using my AE-1 and playing with the settings to get interesting photos, but I can't really afford to spend too much on film and developing film right now.

I kind of also miss the beauty of winter right now too... Maybe we will get one blizzard this year, but it's already the end of February and it doesn't really look like it...

Winter sunrise

Winter sunrise, originally uploaded by lunajade.

I braved the below 10 degrees F (minus million in C) cold yesterday morning and walked down to the Bay to catch the rising sun. Beautiful pinks and purples, mixed with oranges and yellows, fanning out over the sky and the water.

Here are more photos from yesterday (B&W and Colour): Flickr set

Labour Day weekend 2010 - Part 1

Yesterday, after the so-called Hurricane Earl left us with blue-washed skies and a strong breeze, I decided I wanted to take pictures ALL DAY. Luckily Mum was game, because I don't know how I would have got around if she hadn't been (yes, learning to drive is on my list this year).

First came the usual amazing sunrise over the bay from the East. I am only using the manual settings on my camera, and I still need to work more on the lighting settings, but I'm getting there:

I finally figured my direct sunlight settings once we were walking Bella, and got the rising sun over the bay, with Fire Island in the very back:

We made our way to Smithpoint beach to see the waves. As it was low tide they were not as impressive as I thought they would be, but I wouldn't have ventured in myself:

After a trek to Best Buy, Borders and HomeGoods we stopped of at Manor St George, just off William Floyd Parkway in Shirley. I had no idea that behind all of the trees there was a amazing piece of land looking out onto the bay! Despite getting eaten alive by mosquitoes (literally), we had a really good look around. The house was first built in the 1600's and then added onto in the 1700's.
Interesting flag ;):

We then drove West along Montauk Highway towards the Westhampton Beach area, and I noticed a signpost for a graveyard along the way, and made Mum turn around and go back to it. It didn't look very impressive from the road, but it was literally huge. We spent about 30 minutes driving up and down the lanes and taking pictures of the stones. My favourite part was definitely catching the crow on the gravestone:

And then finally Westhampton Beach where the waves were very impressive. The people who were braving them were pretty dumb in my opinion. I was actually surprised that the lifeguards were letting anyone except surfers swim. Granted, there was only a tiny area of the beach where swimming was allowed, and also about 20 lifeguards hanging around in case anyone got pulled under and away by a riptide.

We ended the day with a two mile walk (a mile each way) to Paradise Ice Cream Parlor in Mastic Beach, under the blue velvet sky twinkling with stars.

Here are all of the pictures I took: Mastic Beach-Smithpoint-Shirley-Westhampton
Here is my Mum's blog (her pictures are amazing as usual): Alison's Blog

Houses and dreams...

Mum recently got her real estate license and is going to sell houses as a hobby. So this weekend I went to a few open houses in the Mastic Beach area with her, just to see what type of places were being sold at the moment. I always find it a little strange, going into people's houses and looking around them, while they are still living there. But we saw some interesting, some very nice, and one amazing, places.

I'm thinking more and more about buying a small house out there, The prices are affordable right now, and I have always dreamed of owning my own house right by the bay, not far from the ocean. I already know how I would decorate all of the rooms, and how I want the garden to look. But would I want to live so far away from the city? In any case, I could never afford a down payment right now, so it's out of the question, but one can always dream.

I loved this one:

It needs a LOT of work, but it was really cute and quirky inside, and had loads of potential. I love old houses, places with character. I don't think I could ever buy a new house, unless it was built EXACTLY the way I envision my dream house. This one had a huge garden with lots of trees. Something I will always miss, living in an apartment in Bushwick.

We went to see a place that is priced at $2.8 million, right by the bay. Amazing. If I had that place I would never ever ever want to sell it. EVER. I liked the location too - It was in East Moriches, so still a nice peaceful area, unaffected by the Hamptons and all that crowd. I like towns and villages that still have character.

Anyway - it's nice to have dreams like this. Maybe all this will finally motivate me to learn how to drive. Because I would need a car out there...