just a dog


Her name is Bella.

‘Just a dog’ when we spot her buddy on Petfinder.com.

We wanted the buddy, but

the animal shelter says the two had been found together.

So we bring both home.

Izzy fits in right away.

Bella’s a worry wart.

She loves pieces of apple, cut up small. That’s her favorite.

When you rub her belly, she sticks her chin up into the air. Never seen another dog do that.

She sort of purrs, like a cat, when she’s earnest, which is most of the time.

Bella has to sniff the whole lower level whenever we come home from a walk. If she’s been waiting for us, she greets you with a little whistley trill, and throws herself onto the rug and spins by pulling herself.

We joke that she’s a spinster librarian. I buy her a dusty rose sweater.

Then last night @ 9:45.

My husband takes them for their walk. He carries pepper spray now, as a coyote has followed him home a few months back.

Silent. Stealthy. You can’t blame the coyote, it’s hungry. Why would a coyote be hungry in a city full of compost bins & squirrels?


and winter is coming

and the neighbor MOVES AWAY and stops feeding them.

Last night Jay unclips the dogs when he gets to the porch

Bella hears something


beside the garbage

it’s there

on our porch

2 feet away

and there


the coyote takes Bella and drags her into the night.

Jay runs into the house, grabs a bat and heads outside.

I follow.

Bella! Bella !

Dog tags jingle, heading into the ravine behind our house.

Then quiet.

The night is keeping dark secrets.

We spend the night on the phone, all lights in the house on

waiting by the door for her the way she’s done so many times for us.


Calling (who? Division 55, Toronto Animal Services, Vet clinics, and, and, and).

Morning there is still no Bella.

One of our kids, Lily, comes over, and my husband takes the day off.

What do we DO? They’re asking me as if I know.

We’ll look in the back,  I say, in the ravine, in people’s back yards, I say.

Armed with sticks and rolling pins, we begin.

It’s raining (Bella hates being wet).

We climb over mossy fences, keep going

climb under electric wires

keep going.

one house,


we’ve been in 4 back yards

Lily is ahead of me, climbing

I step

and almost fall

laying in the woods


Here, at the end of all things, is my little dog.

My first thought: ‘She’s wet, Bella hates wet.’

Looks like she’s sleeping.

Now, if I live to be 100 I will swear, right there, there’s a purple glow over her and the second I see her body, say a quiet ‘Bella’

Hearing her name

the purple glow that is Bella leaves

so now she’s only rain and sticks and soggy ground.

We carry her home, and in the end, at the end of all things for Bella, I will not let ignorant people who feed coyotes so they lurk on your porch …win.

I am happy:

that the coyotes didn’t get to do what I spent all night thinking they’d done

that a tiny rescued rag of a dog got to live (we adopted her on the day she was to be put down)

that Bella taught one family how to love her fiercely for 5 years

that she got to have favorites, like apples, cut in small pieces.

Bella is now at the end of all things, true.

My heart is breaking.

But she taught us there is no such thing as ‘just’ a dog.

So, to the person (people?) who mistakingly think it’s a good idea to feed coyotes in a city: I leave you with a picture of Bella: happy, loved, cradled in a family who adores her.



One response »

  1. I am so sorry, Dawna. Such a terrible situation for you and your family. For sure no such thing as ‘just a dog’ when it is one’s own dog. They become a part of your family. Love to you and your family.
    PS. There is a beautiful poem called’ ‘Rainbow Bridge’

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