When Nancy Ewert adopted Black Lab Bella in late April, she knew she would later have to part with her for about 10 weeks – for a very good cause. Bella became mom to seven healthy, happy puppies in early October, some of whom could become life-changing partners for people living with disabilities.
Bella was initially trained as a service dog through Summit Assistance Dogs, a non-profit based on North Whidbey Island (www.summitdogs.org) but was career changed to become a Summit breeding dog. That meant Nancy adopted her with conditions. Once she became pregnant, she would stay with Nancy until a couple of weeks before her expected due date. Then Summit would take her back for about 2-1/2 months to wait for the birth and let Bella nurse her puppies until they were old enough to go to foster homes.
“We are so grateful to Nancy for being willing to adopt Bella with conditions,” said Sue Meinzinger, Summit’s founder and executive director. “Bella is a wonderful mother, and the puppies are thriving.”
Nancy held a pre-homecoming celebration Nov. 12, with Bella and puppies on hand. It was a great first outing for the pups and a chance for Nancy and Bella to spend some time together.
“I was so sad when I had to say goodbye to Bella, but having seen what these dogs are destined to do in this world, I beamed with pride at her very pregnant belly as I kissed her goodbye a couple of months ago,” Nancy said. “She will be back here on Lopez in just a couple more weeks, and I can’t wait for her return.”
Nancy adopted Bella after her beloved Yellow Lab, Phoebe, died in early March.
“She had been a member of our family for 11 years and had seen me through some of the darkest days of my life, including my husband Greg’s cancer death. She, herself, survived cancer and lived her days with me to the fullest,” Nancy said. “I really didn’t have any intention of getting another Lab, although I love them. But then I met Bella and fell in love with her searching brown eyes and the fact that she likes to use her person as a pillow.”
Soon Bella joined Nancy on her daily walks around Lopez, taking immediate delight in all of her surroundings. “Honestly, I just feel like Phoebe has come from the spirit world to combine with Bella’s big heart and attend to mine!”
Since getting to know Summit, Nancy has become a big fan and supporter.
“Summit does amazing work, training these service dogs to become life-changing partners for people who need them,” she said. “Each of their stories is heart-rending and real. There are many good causes to support, and Bella and I hope people will learn about this great program that’s right here in our area and consider supporting them. For those who knew and loved Phoebe, perhaps a donation in her memory.”
To say that Nancy is proud of Bella is putting it mildly. In her birth announcement to her friends, Nancy said, “At a time in our world when we wake up every morning to more horrific news and feel so helpless, I just wanted to share this just plain joyful news. I feel so grandmotherish!”