by Ofelia Brevaldo

    "What have I gotten myself into?"
    I mumbled to myself as I glanced at the nervous, scared, old, and
almost hairless Chihuahua inside the box on the passenger seat. This
would be the 7th dog in our household!  I chuckled at the thought of
getting with my community outreach team at work and consider having a
"Pet Food Drive for Ofelia."
    I reached out and stroked the dog's head, told her that she will
be okay with us and that we will be home soon.  Getting home was not
soon enough -- the traffic was backed up, the usual 1.5 hour commute
stretched to 2 hours.
    Barbara, the lady who fostered and brought the dog to me at work,
mentioned over the phone that the dog has some skin condition and lost
most of her hair.  When she said the dog was ugly, I thought she was
only joking!  She named the dog Bella.
    Bella stared at me while I talked to her.  I did not know her
background other than she was rescued from somewhere.
    There's a difference between adopting and rescuing a pet.  When you
adopt, you choose the pet that you have connection with -- one that is
cute, friendly and so on.  When you rescue, it does not matter how they
look like -- you are going to take them.
    When we arrived home, I picked Bella up.  She was still scared and
tried to get away by climbing up to my shoulder.  I rushed her inside and
into the fenced-in area at the side of the house so that she could take
care of her business.  We were followed by 4 small dogs and 2 big dogs.
All were very curious about the new arrival, but their curiosity ended
after the initial sniffing session.
    Ron met Bella shortly after he finished feeding the chickens
and goats.  I watched as Ron picked Bella up and said, "We are going to
take care of you.  You are safe here."
    While Bella did not give us any problem, she was suspicious. She
only came close to us when it was feeding time.  Since she is an older
dog, Ron thought that she probably has problem chewing dry food.  So,
he made a special trip to Winn Dixie and got soft and canned food for her.
    Bella parked herself on the back of the couch where the other dogs
usually spend time when they get tired playing.  Despite her keeping
distance from us, Bella was always happy to see us when we arrived home
at night.  They all look forward to us letting them out in the yard
while Ron and I attend to the ducks, chickens and goats.
    It was February 6, 2008, when I brought Bella home.  Since then,
she has most all her hair back.  A beautiful dark brown.  Even with
the newly grown hair over her face, she still doesn't look cute but we
love her just the same.  She no longer spends the night on the back of
the couch.  She had claimed a spot on our bed with the other 4 small dogs.
    Working full time with the 90 minute commute and taking care of
numerous pets does not leave much time for us but we are not complaining.
    The pets bring so much joy and warmth to our hearts.  We are
thankful for having the opportunity to give them a home.

                       -- Ofelia Brevaldo <obrevaldo at gmail.com>

Ofelia says, "I live in Middleburg, Florida, with my husband and number
of pets.  Pets include chickens, 13 dogs, 2 cats, 14 birds and a duck.
I make items such as crocheted hats and blankets, handmade cards, beaded
jewelry and donate them to charities."

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