Photography & Content Written by Stefanie Cove
I have always had an incredible compassion toward animals, specifically dogs. If met by a puppy or a baby, I’m 100% walking up to a furry friend over a human!. It was over 15 years ago now, when I first met Bella in Syracuse, New York. Locals outside of the city had found a tiny, black Labrador-Chow mix on the side of the road with her litter. The mother of the puppies had been hit by a car when she was attempting to help her full litter cross the street. At the time I was a junior at Syracuse University and I had no business bringing home a stray puppy; however, I knew from the moment when I looked into Bella’s dark eyes that she was the one. Little did I know that she would become my best friend from that day forward.
Bella and I did everything together, including traveling the country. She was so incredibly well behaved that she was invited to my clients’ homes in Los Angeles and she joined me and my team on destination events. Bella grew accustomed to staying in the fanciest of hotels and she made friends everywhere she went. She ultimately ending up teaching me what it’s like to truly love.
Approximately two years ago when Bella and I were working in Montecito, California at San Ysidro Ranch, I received a life-changing telephone call. The vet was on the other line and they informed me that Bella had a mast cell tumor. Overnight one of the lymph nodes on her neck grew to the size of a massive tennis ball. Bella was a true fighter though and she weathered through her cancer treatments!. When it came to taking care of Bella, there was nothing that I wouldn’t do for my best girl. After a year of trying new diets, undergoing chemotherapy, and receiving amazing care from Dr. Turner at City of Angels in Culver City, California, Bella’s cancer remained persistent. Sadly, I knew in my heart that I had to let Bella go so that she would never experience pain or suffering. Bella’s absence immediately left a giant hole in my heart & nothing felt quite right in the world.
A close friend of mine told me about the National Canine Cancer Foundation. I started following the Foundation’s page on Facebook and I found solace in hearing the stories of thousands of others who were experiencing similar losses of their furry loved ones. With each story that I read, I found myself tearing up over the beloved memories of pets lost due to cancer. It was somewhat therapeutic to find that my grief was normal and shared by other animal lovers. I decided that the Foundation was the cause that I wanted to support Bella’s name forever. Similarly, I was able to honor Bella’s oncologist because there were many options on their site to recognize others: from pets to vets to special occasions to a variety of research projects, etc.
From the National Canine Cancer Foundation’s website, I learned that one out of every four dogs will experience cancer in his or her lifetime. The Foundation helps with providing funds to universities that perform cutting edge research for preventing, diagnosing, treating, and ultimately curing canine cancer. Also on their Facebook page, they create a lovely sounding board and informal support group for individuals with furry friends who are battling cancer.
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