Celebrating our Berner Veterans

In Loving Memory of


Oberland's Vita Es Bella

March 29th 1999 to December 5th 2009

Proudly owned by Robin Hoogwerf, so much loved and now so very sadly missed.

Yesterday I helped Bella to the Bridge. She was just diagnosed with Lymphoma two weeks ago and chemo was a proven route to go. But the chemo had hit her hard. She had been coping with some type of degenerative disc disease for the past 18 months and the past 6 months she was losing more mobility. The chemo, though, took the wind out of her sails and she was no longer able to stand on her own. During the chemo I slept near her on the kitchen floor, as she would not go further into the house, and set my alarm for every few hours to help her go outside to go potty but she could no longer tell me she had to go and I would find her laying in her own pee. That is not Bella. She was trying her best to deal with everything but I knew that my girl would not want to continue life dependent on me; you see Bella was a special Berner. Actually I always thought of her as the anti-Berner. She was not a wiggly, crazy, silly dog. Bella was strong-minded, independent and did things her way or no way. She was brilliant and no problem every stymied her. She and I spent most of her life taking lessons in many disciplines; obedience, agility, rally, tracking, search and rescue, canine freestyle, tricks; she even tried sheep herding. The girl could do them all but she didn’t have the confidence and maybe neither did I, to actually do more than mock-trials. She understood more English words then I care to remember. She could put two and two together and always did the right thing, the right Bella thing.

Bella came to work with me for 10 years of her life, she was the “Boss’s Daughter”. Before her mobility was compromised, she would go through the entire building, stopping at desks that she knew had cookies and if you didn’t have cookies you didn’t exist to her. There are 80 people in the building and Bella knew them all. If you didn’t pay attention to her, she ignored you. Then she would return to my office and sleep peacefully beside me the rest of the day. Waking to share my lunch and letting me know when it was quitting time. In the past year when she could no longer walk through the building, people would bring the treats to her. She is featured in our catalogues and her picture graces our front foyer. Everyone knew Bella; customers, sales people, delivery people, even strangers would send mail to Bella’s attention. I don’t know how a girl who did not give favours gladly had so many admirers. I think it was her regal, composed manner that struck a chord with people.

She made you love her but she didn’t have to return the love if she didn’t want to.

Bella went on many trips and was an excellent traveler. She chased shore birds on the beach, watched a grey whale and calf surface feet from a small boat, climbed mountains and took me on many adventures. She was a great hiker, always right behind me, never ahead. She liked to bring me things; as a 6-month-old pup she brought me a dead Canada Geese she found by the river, on a hike she brought me a fresh deer leg and she even brought me a peppermint she found at my sister’s house. She truly enjoyed sharing her finds.

She loved the snow and cold and during a snowstorm I would find her; two black eyes peering out from a snow covered mound. Coaxing would not bring her in; I had to use firm words to get her to give up the elements. Every winter I would build a snow pile for her so she would have snow as long as possible. And come May, when the snow pile was but a few square foot patch, she would drape herself on it, trying to absorb the coolness. She disliked summer and I always called summer an ‘endurance sport’ for her; she would just grit her teeth until the snow came again.

Bella was a possessive girl amongst other dogs. She didn’t like dogs approaching her Mom and would try to block their approach. She loved my backpack and her food cooler. I would leave my pack on the beach and Bella’s self-imposed job was to guard it. I could walk down the beach and she would remain near the backpack and god forbid if a dog approached the backpack. I always thought she thought she was a warrior but I knew inside she didn’t have it in her to follow through. Her best defense was a good offence and she was on the offence, believe me. She was a warrior when it came to her damn bones though. She had bi-lateral TPLOs at age 4 and 5 and arthritis in her elbow and then the spinal issues but she always found a way to manage. And I was right beside her using homeopathics, traction, acupuncture, laser therapy, massage, anything to help her. She had a car ramp and a house ramp, non-slip rugs, belly bands, harnesses; foams steps so she could still get herself on and off the bed, anything she needed to get through it, I got her. Her well-being was always my first priority. Her life was always my first-priority; she deserved nothing less.

We shared laughter and tears together; she was my rock. She grounded me and would not stand for any drama. That is why in the end, I knew that, even though I could have given her a few more weeks, that life had become undignified for her. People say I was brave to let her go; I did it for her, but I am left without her and I don’t feel so brave anymore. I am gutted that she is gone. I can only hope that my memories will help me pick up the pieces of my shattered heart.

As we all do, I loved my Berner more then life itself and the yard will be so quiet without Bella barking at the moon. So when you see a full moon, think of Bella and give it a bark for her. I will and every new moon will bring tears to my eyes for the rest of my life.

Give your Berners a hug, tell them how much you love them and surround yourself with their spirit each and every day. They are so precious.

I would like to pass on my extreme gratitude to Dr. Stephanie Ball (Southpointe Vet Hospital), who loved and cared for Bella throughout her life and shared tears with me when she passed and to Laurie Edge-Hughes (Canine Fitness Center), who loved my girl and every week would give her world-class physical rehabilitation. These ladies are angels in my eyes.

To my family, friends and co-workers who loved Bella as much as I did. Thank you for all your help and support. I know you share my grief.

And finally to Bella; run free my love, and wait for me. You taught me how to love unconditionally and you brought me more joy then I thought was ever possible, thank you.

All my love and achingly missing my beautiful B. Bear,


Bella with her pal, Thor,

"Bella just turned 10.5 and is lying down like the regal lady she is. Thor just had his birthday bath and is trying very hard to sit still long enough to take the picture. That's 22.5 years of beautiful Oberland berner, in case you're counting."

SadlyThor also sadly has now died, his Tribute Page is here


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