LESLIE CRISS: Frou-frou pup learns to love one she’s with

“We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment.” – George Eliot
“I think God will have prepared everything for our perfect happiness. If it takes my dog being in Heaven, I believe he’ll be there.” – the Rev. Billy Graham
“Histories are more full of examples of the loyalty of dogs than of friends.” – Alexander Pope
I’ve always denied having a fondness for frou- frou dogs. Poodles, among others, fit into the frou-frou phylum.
So, technically, I should not like poodles. Truth be told, I’ve yet to meet a dog I could not love – including Dixie Belle Gamble, a Bichon Frise (descendent of the poodle) I met last weekend in Vicksburg. Belle belonged to Anna Claire Gamble. A dog lover from way back, Anna Claire also loved her nieces, which includes my good friend Karen.
Anna Claire died last spring and 8-year-old Belle now lives with Karen and her family. A week ago, I stood in Karen’s kitchen and stifled the urge to sob as she told the story about the night Anna Claire died.
She’d fixed herself a cup of coffee and sat down with her beloved Belle to watch Lawrence
Welk. Then she suffered a heart attack.
By the time Karen got to her aunt’s apartment, emergency personnel were there, had Anna
Claire stretched out on the floor in front of the sofa and were administering CPR.
Belle watched from her spot on the sofa.
“I tried to get her, but she would have nothing to do with me,” Karen told me. Instead, Belle kept her eyes on her mistress and those working to bring her back. I’m told they worked on Anna
Claire for more than two hours, and Belle didn’t budge.
Minutes before the EMTs ceased their life-saving efforts,Belle finally moved. She jumped off the sofa and went around to the other side of Anna Claire. She placed her front paws in Anna Claire’s hand and whined a few times, before walking away from Anna Claire and toward Karen.
It was only after Belle had said her goodbyes that EMTs pronounced the time of death. But, as Karen said, it’s as if Belle knew exactly when life left Anna Claire’s body.
Can I say with complete certainty a dog’s heart breaks over such a loss? No. But I believe it
happens as surely as human hearts ached at the loss of a dear aunt and a good friend.
I also believe Belle must have missed her friend for a while. Maybe she still does. But she seems quite happy to have a new home and a new family. I watched her Saturday as we gathered in the country to celebrate several birthdays. Where Karen went, Belle followed. They’re quite a pair, these two. And blessed to have each other.
I believe.
Contact Leslie Criss at (662) 678-1584 or


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