Sibley - Bella - White Lake, MI

2/18/03 – 4/6/12 Age: 9
BG# 46132

Bella spent the first 6 month of her life behind glass on display in a pet store prior to a local rescue group getting her out and putting her in foster. She was the first Bernese Mountain Dog we ever met and the first that we ever owned. She had the very best personality, just as sweet as can be and loved everyone.

I had never tried to do anything with my dogs that they would be judged on, but Bella made me feel very comfortable. At age 4, Bella passed her Canine Good Citizens Test. This gave me the confidence to work toward a Draft title (she loved pulling a cart). We took our time, but at 6 years old she earned her Novice Draft Dog Title, to be followed by a certification for Therapy Dog - (Bella loved hanging out with the elderly) and then went on to earn a Rally Novice title at the very first National Specialty we every attended in 2010.

In April of 2011, our world was shattered. We were given the tragic diagnosis of Metastatic Histiocytic Sarcoma. I was devastated, but just as Bella taught me to be strong to learn how to compete for titles, she taught me to be strong and deal with the hand we had been dealt. Bella started Chemotherapy treatments with Dr. Paulo Vilar at Michigan State University. We were fortunate that her body had been able to handle the treatments without feeling sick. It was then that Bella and I decided that we would have “time of our life”: We treasured each day from that moment on.

Bella’s post diagnosis timeline:

• May: Bella starts the summer off right with plenty of boat rides.

• June: Bella pulled her cart around the Heart of Michigan BMD Clubs summer picnic, raising money for Dr. Breen’s Histio Cancer research at NCSU. She raised $1,100.00

• July: Bella earned her Beginner Novice Obedience title with a first place win.

• August: Bella finally used her therapy dog certification to go visit her human grandma at Henry Ford Hospital, West Bloomfield. Many visits would follow after that.

• September: Bella participated in several of the events at our clubs “Berner Fun Day”, including conformation (she just had to “play” show dog) Took a 1st place ribbon in Advance Rally Obedience and won ribbons for a couple of other activities she entered (including a clothing relay race) It was a special and fun day for us.

• October: Bella dressed up like an Angel and attends several Halloween parties.

• November: Bella decorated her cart and participated in the Festival of Lights parade in Howell , Michigan, pulling her cart along the 1 mile route .

• December: Bella attends several Christmas parties from dog parties to family affairs.

• January: Bella attends the Berner Blizzard Bash in Rockford, Michigan

• February: Bella celebrated her 9th birthday with her brothers and some ice-cream.

• March: Bella decorated her cart for St. Patty’s day and walked the neighborhood with her stuffed Berner friend riding in her cart.

The Chemo treatments gave us an extra year of a great life.

On 4/6/12, we lost our fight with the Histio monster, but Bella did not ever suffer. Her doctor, Dr. Paulo Vilar of Michigan State University met us to help say our goodbyes. We send heartfelt thanks to Dr. Vilar for being such a dedicated and caring oncologist. Dr. Vilar always said we were to focus on quality of life; he helped to give us that. Our decision to say goodbye to Bella has been especially hard on our family since we un-expectantly lost our boy Bently not less than 2 weeks before from this same horrible cancer. Bella’s tumor tissue and pathology report has been sent to the Berner Garde Repository at MSU in hopes that her battle with Histiocytic Sarcoma can help find a cure for this awful cancer. Run free my sweet baby girl. We will always love you. Tail wags forever.

Kathy and Bob Sibley
White Lake, Michigan