The Rescue Dog That Rescued Us

By: Murry and Julie Walton – Boise, Idaho
December 7, 2012

Why We Needed to Be Rescued

Imagine yourself in our situation. The wife goes through two thyroid surgeries and cancer diagnosis. After being home from the hospital for just one week, your beloved 5 year old dog dies. This was our sad circumstance in the fall of 2012.

Having lost our treasured pet Maggie to sudden sickness and death, we were both devastated. Life was a struggle. Oh how we missed our early morning puppy play before going off to work. There was no longer a loyal companion to greet us when we entered our home. No longer a best friend to play fetch, find the hidden squeaky squirrel, sit up, roll over and to give praise with a treat. Our routine dog walking workout came to an abrupt halt. Our tail wagging puppy had filled our home with smiles and laughter. Our happy feelings were replaced with grief, a strange emptiness and a great big hole in our hearts.

Together we soon decided that we needed to look for another dog as our home was not the same without a canine companion.
We wanted a young beautiful really smart dog (preferably one that would never die) We both realized the responsible thing to do was adopt another rescue dog. We started to camp out on the web site to find a dog that we felt might best fit our family situation. We preferred a female dog of the herding breed, since that was the type of dog we were most familiar with. Murry found a nice female border collie named Misty that was in Thayne, Wyoming at the Animal Humane Association of Star Valley, also known as Lucky’s Place.  Julie really liked the look of Misty so she contacted Mary Ann Ahrens, the President and Director of the animal shelter.  It looked like Misty was already going to be adopted, but Mary Ann thought we should look at a dog named Bella.

Bella had been surrendered by her owner to a dog pound in a small town in Wyoming. The sad thing about this dog pound was that it would euthanize the dog after just two days. UNBELIEVABLE! This beautiful young intelligent dog was obviously a family pet. She was house broken, followed commands, and was very gentle. Thank goodness a compassionate friend of Lucky’s Place spotted Bella and contacted Mary Ann. She told her about this beautiful dog that would soon be destroyed. Mary Ann quickly responded to go ahead and rescue the dog and bring her to Star Valley’s no-kill shelter, Lucky’s Place. Bella stayed with the friend for a few weeks and then made the trip to Thayne, where Mary Ann took her into her own home as a foster dog. Mary Ann could see what an excellent dog they had rescued.

Thankfully came to the rescue for all of us. The Animal Humane Association of Star Valley uses to list their adoptable pets. Mary Ann had put this information about Bella on the Petfinder web site:



Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler)/Australian Shepherd Mix: An adopted dog in Thayne, WY

Medium • Young • Female

Bella is a blue heeler/Aussie mix.  she is great with other dogs, children and adults.  Housebroke and can sit and stay.  She is a super dog and ready for a forever home.  She is about a year old.  A WINNER… I am fostering her now and she is one of the BEST..  I have 4 puppies here and she is great with them and plays all day.  Loves the car and does awesome riding with you..


Julie wanted a dog with a beautiful tail, and since Bella only had a nubbin of a tail she seemed to be out of the running.  However, we decided that since we had the time and needed a break we would drive from Idaho to Wyoming and interview Mary Ann about her no-kill animal shelter for our dog blog and check out the dogs there.  Julie contacted Mary Ann so she would expect us and we started making plans for a road trip.

As soon as we realized that we would be leaving the next day for a mini vacation and dog blog related trip, it seemed to help with our grief.  We searched online and found a wonderful  lodge with roomy cabins in the small town of Thayne.  We looked forward to relaxing. The October weather was beautiful, just a little rain as we got closer to Wyoming.  We journeyed on our mission through the mountains and noticed snow on the side of the road. Just a week previous there had been quite the snow storm, which would have made the roads hazardous for traveling. Now that we look back on the entire “rescue” experience we realize that the timing was perfect. We traveled on the ideal weekend with great weather to trek through the mountains in our search for the perfect dog to complete our little family.

Lucky’s Place – A No-Kill Animal Shelter

Geared up with our camera, tripod, iphone, and notepad, we started the day with an interview for our dog blog. We had many questions about Lucky’s Place and how Mary Ann and her husband, Ron, got involved volunteering their time and energy as animal rescuers.

One of the things I really appreciate about Lucky’s Place and their adoption policies, is that they are vigilant about finding forever homes for their dogs and cats. Before being considered as an adoptive family, people are required to fill out a questionnaire for prospective pet adoption.

Mary Ann is an amazing lady, along with local volunteers she is dedicated to rescuing cats and dogs in her community and maintaining the no-kill shelter as well.  Mary Ann’s generous and humble spirit really shines through.  We took a tour of the facility and met some of the resident cats and dogs.  There were many heartbreaking stories that Mary Ann related to us, which really got to both of us.

We were very impressed with Lucky’s Place and will soon share our impressions in an upcoming blog post.

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Meeting the Rescue Dog Bella

Mary Ann told us that the original dog that caught our eye, Misty, had been adopted, but that Bella was still available and she would be pleased to take us to her home to see Bella.

After the interview and tour, Mary Ann had us follow her out to her home in Star Valley Ranch where we were able to meet the fostered dog Bella.  Bella was very friendly and loved to chase and retrieve tennis balls and  Murry was only too happy to accommodate her!

Murry: I thought she was a great dog, but there was the issue of the tail that Julie felt strongly about, at least I thought so.  But Julie surprised me and asked me what I thought of Bella.

Julie: Murry was hesitant to tell me how much he liked Bella. Remember I did have some thoughts about what I was looking for in our perfect pet. The puppy didn’t have to be a designer dog, but I so loved the look of a long lush beautiful tail as seen on border collies. Simply put, I wanted a dog that could wag a long beautiful tail. Bella is beautiful, but she is not a border collie, and she has a stubby tail.  After seeing how smart she is and how polite and gentle, and the fact that she was already trained, we knew she would fit in so great with our family.

I said to Bella “It’s OK Bella, I have no thyroid and you have no tail.  That’s OK.  We can live with that.  Can’t we!”  Then I saw her wag her tiny little tail, and I grinned.

So right there we decided that Bella was going to be our forever dog and adopted as our new family member. We played with her, shook her paw, praised her with treats and took her for a short walk. We took pictures and sent messages to our family and friends about our new found rescue dog. Their response – their favorite thing in the picture was seeing Murry smile again. We made arrangements with Mary Ann to meet her at Lucky’s Place to adopt Bella the next day. It was apparent right away that Bella had decided to adopt us. She wanted to follow us to the car. But we were staying at an Inn that did not allow pets. So we would all have to wait just one more day to travel to her forever home.

The next day we checked out of our cabin and drove over to the shelter to meet Mary Ann and sign the adoption papers. We were so excited to adopt such a perfect pet, but we were scratching our heads trying to figure out what to do about her name. What is wrong with the name Bella, you ask. Well you see our dog, Maggie, had just one nemesis. A little dog that lived down the street had mistreated Maggie when we first adopted her. This little weiner dog snapped at Maggie. And she never forgot it. Every single time Maggie got near that hated dog she would bark with anger. Even when Maggie was in our house, her hackles would raise and she would go to the front window and bark bark bark. We would look outside and sure enough that despicable dog was going for a walk. Yes, you guessed it that awful dog was named Bella. So you can see our dilemma. Our new dog named Bella, knew her name, but we needed to change it just a little, out of respect for Maggie’s memory. We came up with the name Blue Belle, and we call her Belle for short.

We filled out the adoption papers, Belle gave Mary Ann a lick goodbye and we told her to “load up” (that’s Wyoming talk for let’s get in the car). and prepared to bring our beautiful Blue Belle home with us from Wyoming across Eastern Idaho to Western Idaho and the city of trees, Boise.

Mary Ann sure did us a favor by helping us find a “turn-key” dog that immediately fit into our family. Belle is great with kids and other animals, even cats.  She is gentle with our one year old granddaughter who loves to throw tennis balls for Belle to retrieve.

We still miss our best friend, Maggie, but we appreciate that Belle is like a prescription for our broken hearts. We call her our little miracle dog. Belle is very loving and is grateful to have a forever home.  We know she is going to make a great member of our family and we are so happy she found us. She will follow in Maggie’s paw prints as our canine contributor to our dog blog. She has already been asked to review a dog treat product. We are extremely happy and grateful that Belle rescued us and became a part of our family.