My precious Border Collie mix, Bella, was by my side during the last eight years of my writing process of Where the Water Meets the Sand. She laid at my feet with her paws spread neatly out in front of her like the lady she was, her chin flat on the floor as she patiently waited until I took a break so we could play. I would read her passages as I wrote, and she would sit up because I was speaking to her and lick my hand affirming my writing was just right.
During our breaks, I’d feed her, take her outside and tell her about the hopes and dreams I had for my book. She stared at me with her big brown eyes and I knew she understood. She was my constant and closest companion.
Speaking to Bella reminded me of the times as a teenager when I used to go to my father’s grave and tell him all of my stories and secrets. Neither of them ever argued or complained. They listened to me when that was all I really needed.
Sadly, this past April my Bella died of congenital heart disease. I was devastated. I was sure I could never love another furry being like I loved my Bell. Time passed and while friends suggested I think about getting another dog, I just wasn’t interested – until the day my daughter Laura showed me a beautiful 13-week-old Border Collie/Australian Shepherd puppy mix on the Border Collie Rescue and Rehab of Texas website.
I looked at the puppy’s photo and thought she was beautiful. I knew in my heart that a puppy could never replace Bella, but I was excited to see her in person. The next morning, I woke up in the twilight hours to the lines of an old 60’s song running through my mind, “Help me Rhonda, help, help me Rhonda, help me Rhonda yeah, get her out of my heart…”
Laura and I drove three hours to San Angelo to meet the puppy. The first time I laid eyes on her, it was clear this puppy was her own dog. If she became my new best friend, it would be on her terms. Her personality demanded her own space in my heart. No question about that. We played and visited with her foster mom. I found myself unable to leave without taking her home with me.
With Help Me, Rhonda still ringing in my head, and my Texas tendency to give middle names, Rhonda Lee became my new puppy pal.
This afternoon, my new writing companion lay by my chair, waiting patiently for my attention. “Rhonda Lee, how does this sound?” When I finished reading the first sentence, she looked up at me and barked. It was dinner time, but I prefer to believe she approved of my writing.