Dog Blog: Tommy's girl, Bella

June 24, 2010|By Pegi Lopez

Puppies are always cute, and adding one to your household is a joy, a challenge, a commitment, and a royal pain in the behind. They do not come with instructions. But with a great deal of tenacity you can get through puppy training and get to the doggie stage unscathed.

One day, while on Main Beach boardwalk, I stopped to talk to a man named Tom with a new puppy, Bella. After the normal cooing and adoring comments, I asked him how he came across the name. He said it was the name of his favorite bartender in the old days.

"What, pray tell, were the old days?" I asked.

He answered, "Oh, I was a drunk for many years, got tired of it and quit. But I will always remember Bella the barmaid. I was in the Marines for 26 years, surrounded by hundreds of troops and retired as a master gunnery sergeant, found a neighborhood tavern populated with a lot of drunks and drank for several more years, then quit drinking. I now had money in my pocket but I got lonely."


He knew he needed a new drinking buddy — so what if the drink was water? He continued his story.

"Then I met a lady trying to walk puppies in Heisler Park. They were pit bull puppies. I asked, 'Are you selling them, if so how much?' " She said $50. I said, 'You got a deal.' "

He whipped out the only $50 he had, save $5, and wound up with his new drinking buddy.

It was a girl, but she was just so cute he could not resist. His first stop was the grocery store to purchase puppy food. He was a pretty scruffy-looking guy and did not appear to have had much to eat himself, but the puppy was an obvious priority.

At the time, Tom was homeless, but he was no longer drinking his retirement money, so he could now afford a home for himself and Bella.

What a match: a homeless Marine and a pit bull. Both frighten men, you would assume; however, this little pit was very timid. Everything that moved faster than she did made her jump. She could fit in the palm of his hand, and this is where she stayed most of the time.

She had no problem letting any passersby know how large a bark she had, and she carried the attitude of, "Wait till you see the body that goes with this full-size bark!" Safely tucked away in Dad's hand, she could make all the noise she wanted, ignoring his persistent command (Marines do a lot of commanding) not to bark. We parted ways, and I wished him luck with the puppy and new upcoming residence.

Coastline Pilot Articles Coastline Pilot Articles