a Bella update

Hi friends. I hope you’ve had a wonderful week and that you’re enjoying the morning.

I’m sorry that I don’t have the usual Friday Faves post this morning, but we received devastating news this week. I mentioned last week that we took Bella to an ophthalmologist because her eye has been extremely swollen and inflamed. He put her on some meds and said he’d like to eventually get a CT scan to see what was going on. The meds hadn’t helped, and Sunday morning, her eye looked even more swollen and now had a bubble on the lens. I called the doctor again Monday morning, he saw her that afternoon, and was very concerned that it was worsening. He got her in for a CT scan and biopsy the following day.

After the CT scan, he called with the results: it’s a large tumor behind her eye and has invaded her eye, the bones in her face, and her nasal cavity. He didn’t remove the tumor or the eye because the tumor is so large, and it would require extensive bone surgery. Because the tumor was so vascular, they had a hard time stopping the bleeding from the biopsy. He said he’d call me back once the bleeding was under control, and we drove down there so we’d be right outside if she didn’t make it. We were sick with worry when it had been almost an hour, but thankfully, the technician was able to tell Tom at the door of the office that Bella had made it through the procedure and was recovering.

I feel like with all of the ‘Rona stuff, I’ve handled it fairly well. Our lives have been turned upside down but in the grand scheme of things, we’ve been alright. So many times during quarantine, I would tell the Pilot, “Thank God Bella is here” or “Look at how much time we get to spend with the dogs!” I’ve been sad/stressed about the school situation for the girls, but knew in my heart it would all be ok.

In the past three days, I’ve cried until I was sure I had no more tears left. I’m ok for a little while and then before I know it, tears are once again streaming down my face uncontrollably. My heart is literally broken and this feels like something too cruel and unfair even for 2020. I can’t imagine life without Bella and it’s a horrible reality I’ll have to know sooner rather than later. She’s been there with me my entire adult life: through our wedding, four deployments, the birth of our babies, moves, traveling, sickness, deaths in the family, everything. She’s slept in bed, curled up next to me, for the past 14 1/2 years. She’s always been more of a person than a dog… my person. The only thing that’s brought me a tiny bit of comfort during this week has been the fact that I’ve never taken her for granted. I’ve always told her and shown her how much I love her and how much she means to me.

Baby Bella:

I keep reminding myself that the incredible grief that I feel is a small price to pay for the endless love and joy she’s brought into our lives.

We’re making the most out of the time she has left by spoiling the heck out her. (Caro is also really enjoying this new “eat whatever they want” thing.) I’ve been making them salmon, chicken for days, and showering her with belly rubs and kisses. We’ll also take the dogs on some outdoor adventures and walks when she’s had a little time to recover from the procedure. We’re determined to not let her suffer, so we’ll be watching her carefully for quality of life. For now, she’s still wagging her tail and begging for food, so that’s a good thing. <3

I’m sorry this post is the opposite of my usual Friday fare, but just wanted to share an update of what’s going on. Bella has always been a part of the blog and so many of you have said that you feel like you know this sassy chicken-loving gal. Thank you so much for those of you who have sent heartfelt and kind DMs and emails. I hope you know how much it’s meant to me this week.

Hope that you have a relaxing weekend ahead and I’ll see ya soon.



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  1. Liz on August 28, 2020 at 7:03 am

    I’m so sorry, Gina. I wish I had something better to say, but I know nothing will make this easier. Just know that I’m sending love to you and Bella. <3

    • Melissa Caulfield on August 28, 2020 at 7:16 pm

      Sending love & prayers❤️

    • Marysue on August 28, 2020 at 9:31 pm

      you and your family, Gina.

      • Fitnessista on August 31, 2020 at 11:29 pm

        <3 thank you

  2. Micki on August 28, 2020 at 8:02 am

    Hi Gina. I’m so sorry to hear about Bella. I completely understand what you’re going through. Two years ago, we lost our lab after a sudden and unexpected diagnosis of metastatic carcinoma. He passed away the day after his 9th birthday. Dogs are more than dogs- they are our kids, our family, our comfort. Dogs have such beautiful souls and I know what a happy and loving life you guys have given Bella. Sending love and prayers as you enjoy all the time you have left.

    • Fitnessista on August 31, 2020 at 11:34 pm

      i’m so sorry to hear 🙁 they are truly a gift to have in our lives. thank you <3

  3. Nadya on August 28, 2020 at 8:33 am

    Sending you love ❤️

  4. Kim on August 28, 2020 at 8:42 am

    Heart breaks for you!! So sorry XOXO

  5. Jackie on August 28, 2020 at 8:46 am

    I am so sorry to hear this. It is so hard to lose a pup. They are truly family and it is such a pure kind of love they give. Enjoy your time with her!

    • Lori Launius on September 7, 2020 at 9:52 pm

      RIP beautiful Bella!

  6. Katie on August 28, 2020 at 9:34 am

    Gina, I am so sorry to hear about your pup. It sounds like you have given her a wonderful life and all the love a dog could ever want, but it’s always so hard to say goodbye to a faithful friend. Good vibes to you and your family <3

    • Loretta Goclowski on September 8, 2020 at 3:32 am

      I’m not a subscriber but just read your story about your Bella. Sending all the love and prayers to you and your family. June 8 th I lost my girl, my once in a lifetime love. I rescue dogs and cats and am an animal empath so loving dogs is not something new to me. But Honey was that once in a lifetime dog. An angel from the beginning. A part of me that walked into my life and is never really gone. It took a long time to not randomly cry and I still cry daily. How can you not?
      I am impressed with all you said about dogs and how wonderfully you treated and appreciated this tiny angel. I want to thank you for sharing your story and for your deep love and understanding of dogs. Not everyone has those qualities and this comes from a rescuer so experience has taught me that.
      May you and your family be blessed and may your heart heal until you see your angel again.

  7. Kristen on August 28, 2020 at 9:38 am

    Sending so much love and hugs your way. This is something I try not to dread everyday with my own 11-year old dog, but I do. I’m so sorry the worst thing is happening during this already less than ideal time in life. Praying you can find peace❤️

  8. Katherine on August 28, 2020 at 9:48 am

    So sorry to hear this. Dogs are such gifts. I am so glad you are able to be home with Bella and spoil her. We were able to do that with our old man last year and when the time came – in our hearts, we knew. It was so clear. And although wrought with grief, it was a blessing to usher him over the rainbow bridge. I don’t think I will ever get over missing him, but am so grateful that he taught my kids how to love dogs (and me how to be a mom!). And now – we have a sweet seven month pup and through her are working to carry his legacy forward. Prayers for your sweet Bella and your family.

    • Sarah on August 28, 2020 at 8:09 pm

      I’m so so sorry to hear this. Dogs are such special family members – thinking of you guys.

      • Fitnessista on August 31, 2020 at 11:31 pm

        thank you <3

  9. Donna Mason on August 28, 2020 at 10:02 am

    Sending you so much love and comfort. I know how incredibly hard and heart breaking this is to go through. Keep loving on your sweet Bella. XOXO

  10. Charlsie n on August 28, 2020 at 10:44 am

    We put down our 13 year dog on July 3rd and this opened up the flood gates. The dogs are part of the family and we can never return to them what they have given us. Sending prayers to you and your family.

  11. Laura Rose on August 28, 2020 at 11:18 am

    When my best girl, Blue, passed away three years ago, the grief was immense. To this day, I think of her often, and while the happy memories bring me comfort, I still am sometimes overwhelmed with grief. I miss her so much. I’m tearing up just writing this comment!

    I feel for you, and I’m sorry that you’re close to the end of your journey together. But know that as much as you love Bella, she loves you even more, and with an intensity that only she can know. She is your person. You have made her life incredible, and even when she’s gone, the bond you share will always be in your heart.

    Also, I love the Baby Bella photos. What a sweet fluffy gal she was! Looking at photos and watching videos helps to lift me out of my sadness and remember my girl as she was.

    • Fitnessista on August 31, 2020 at 11:33 pm

      this made me cry <3 thank you. i'm so blessed to have had her in my life for so long
      and yes, she was a sassy fluffy little puppy! i'm trying to take as many photos and videos as possible, especially right now

  12. Liz on August 28, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    Gina, I’m so sorry for what Bella, you, and your family are going through. My heart breaks thinking about it. It’s amazing how much love and compassion these little companions of ours have and we get to reap the benefits. I’m sure she knows how much you love and care for her, and she must be loving the extra chicken and salmon 🙂 Sending lots of love your way.

  13. Shayna Rodriguez on August 28, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    I teared up reading this. So beautifully put – our grief is a small price to pay for all the love and joy they give us. So sorry and sending you love.

  14. Lisa on August 28, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    Sending you and the girls love! Bella is so lucky to have you as her person

  15. Jessie R on August 28, 2020 at 1:19 pm

    Sending love to all of you in the Harney house. All of us with furry best friends are so lucky to have found each other in the craziness of the world. The great joy we bring to each other is truly a treasure <3. Enjoy all that chicken and salmon Bella and Caro!

  16. Jill on August 28, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    I cried when I watched your IG story and again when reading this. Losing our fur-babies is devastating. My husband and I have had, and lost, 2 dogs in our 10 years together. My heart is so heavy for you and your family. Bella has been so loved by you and Tom and the girls.

    • Fitnessista on August 31, 2020 at 11:32 pm

      i’m so sorry you know the sadness. <3 it's the worst ever

  17. lisa hartley on August 28, 2020 at 2:30 pm

    My heart is broken for you and your family. Prayers and hugs xoxo

  18. Emily on August 28, 2020 at 4:01 pm

    This post resonates strongly with me for two reasons: The first being that I foster dogs for a local rescue, and in May, started fostering the sweetest 13 year old little old guy. Soon after I started caring for him, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. His owners hadn’t been caring for him properly and surrendered him to a rescue when he got old and sick. So thank you for loving and spoiling your sweet girl as you have her whole life. Second, after only being with me for 3 months (which is actually already more time than he was expected to have), I am so attached to him and empathize with what you are going through. Lots of hot dogs and ice cream around here! If only we could pay them back with a tenth the love they give us. Thinking of you during this impossible time.

    • Fitnessista on August 31, 2020 at 11:32 pm

      this comment brought tears to my eyes. that poor pup and how kind of you to take over during such a hard part of his life.
      lots of hot dogs and ice cream for sure. <3

  19. Jessica C on August 28, 2020 at 4:03 pm

    Sending lots of love to y’all! I still think of my childhood golden retriever we lost suddenly to cancer…over 10 years ago now. He was my “best friend” and got me through middle and high school. Dogs are truly special- so sorry that you are dealing with such hard news about one of yours. Thanks for sharing the good and the hard stuff with us.

  20. Tracy on August 28, 2020 at 4:23 pm

    Poor sweet Bella! She’s a very special member of your family, I know. Sending love & hugs.

  21. Charlene on August 28, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    This is dreadful news, I am so sorry. Dogs are family. Big hugs to you all.

  22. Amy on August 28, 2020 at 6:56 pm

    I am so sorry. I lost my 19 year old kitty the first week of quarantine. 2020 is just the worst. Enjoy all of your Bella time while you have it. <3

  23. Rachel ONeil on August 28, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    Oh Gina I’m so sorry. I’ve followed and loved Baby B for 11 years and I’m sorry her time is nearing. She’s lived the life All dogs should live. Spoiled rotten, cherished beyond words, loved to the core, with a lifetime of memories to remember with joy.

    I’m always grateful we outlive our dearest babies, I’d much rather deal with the heartbreak of their loss than have them be lost in confusion.

    Bella has known only love and kindness her entire life. You did good. All of you. Enjoy this time with her. She’ll tell you when she’s ready.

    I lost my beloved cat Louis last October and the pain was intense, but quickly replaced with the memories of 15 years old happiness. He went out like a champ and lived his best life. So is Bella. All will be well.

    Peace and hugs.

  24. Erin Hack on August 28, 2020 at 7:17 pm

    Oh Gina, I’m so sorry. Virtual hugs to you all.

    • Alycia on August 28, 2020 at 9:14 pm

      Hi Gina, I am so so sorry! I lost my girl 5 years ago and know the heartbreak. Enjoy the time you have, smother her in love! Sending hugs and love to you and the family!

      • Fitnessista on August 31, 2020 at 11:30 pm

        i’m so sorry you know the sadness, too. thank you – i will!

    • Fitnessista on August 31, 2020 at 11:31 pm

      thank you <3

  25. Crystal Norton on August 28, 2020 at 7:55 pm

    My heart is breaking for you. I hope and pray that her tail wagging and food begging continue and allow you many more sweet moments to savor. Love and thoughts are with you!

    • Fitnessista on August 31, 2020 at 11:31 pm

      thank you! <3

  26. Lorna on August 28, 2020 at 8:28 pm

    I’m so sorry. We will have to make the decision soon with one of our cats, who also has cancer. It is heartbreaking, devastating, like someone has ripped out a part of you. The only thing that comforts me is that, as a kitty we rescued from horrible circumstances, she knows how much we love her and what a great life she’s had with us. You have given and received unconditional love from Bella, which is the best gift you can ever have from a pet. I’ll be thinking of your family. ❤

    • Fitnessista on August 31, 2020 at 11:30 pm

      it absolutely feels like someone has ripped a part out of you. i feel so numb and sick over it.
      i agree that it is the best gift to have them in our lives. sending love to your family and your cat <3

  27. Leighann on August 28, 2020 at 10:31 pm

    I feel your pain and it is heartbreaking. They are family and such an important part of our lives. Sending prayers.

    • Fitnessista on August 31, 2020 at 11:29 pm

      thank you – i appreciate it so much

  28. Erin @ Her Heartland Soul on August 29, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    I’m so sorry Gina. Sending so much love your way. <3

    • Fitnessista on August 31, 2020 at 11:29 pm

      thank you, friend

  29. adrianna on August 29, 2020 at 9:39 pm

    i’m so, so sorry to read this 🙁 sending all the love, prayers, hugs to you all! i’ve been a long time reader, so any loss to your family feels like a loss of a friend. we love you harneys!

    • Fitnessista on August 31, 2020 at 11:29 pm

      thank you, friend. that means the world <3

  30. Summer on August 30, 2020 at 2:08 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about Bella. Our dogs become such important parts of our families, it’s heartbreaking when something happens to them. I’ll keep you, Bella, and your family in my thoughts. <3

    • Fitnessista on August 31, 2020 at 11:29 pm

      they’re absolutely part of the family. thank you- i really appreciate it <3

  31. Charlotte on August 30, 2020 at 7:34 am

    So sorry to hear about Bella. Thinking of you all!

    • Fitnessista on August 31, 2020 at 11:29 pm

      thank you <3

  32. Emily on August 30, 2020 at 10:32 am

    I am so so so sorry to hear about Bella. My roommate’s dog is also at the end of the road currently and this is the first time I’ve had to grapple with letting go of a dog I love so dearly. It is just so terrible to be dealing with everything else in the world/life and to have your fur baby sick too. Sending good vibes your way. Hang in there. <3

    • Fitnessista on August 31, 2020 at 11:29 pm

      i’m so sorry to hear about that. it’s unfathomable until you’re in it. thank you for the good vibes <3 sending love to your roommate's sweet dog, too

  33. Lisa on August 30, 2020 at 11:56 am

    I am so sorry to read this about your baby. I can totally relate and my heart is sad for you and the family. We went through this about a month ago with our sweet baby and decided to hire a mobile vet when the time came. It was such a lovely exit and so little stress in those last moments for our girl. She was in her favorite spot and we didn’t have to disturb her at all. The vet came to her. At any rate, just something to consider if you’re the one who has to make that tough decision. Much love to the fam and you’re in our thoughts (and tears!)…

    • Fitnessista on August 31, 2020 at 11:21 pm

      i’m so sorry you know the sadness. our main vets are a mobile vet service, so we’ll absolutely have them at the house when the time comes. i want her to be in her favorite spot surrounded by all the people who love her

  34. Annie on August 31, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    We had to put our cat down at the very beginning of COVID and it broke my heart. He was my constant companion for 10 years, long before my husband came into the picture. I miss him every day, even with a newborn to occupy my time. Give Bella lots of kisses (and a few from me!) and cherish the time you have left, as you seem to be. She knows she’s a very lucky puppers to have found the family she did!

    • Fitnessista on August 31, 2020 at 11:20 pm

      i’m so sorry to hear 🙁 this year is just the worst. i’ll keep covering bella in kisses. i just wish these sweet pets could just live forever

  35. Becky on September 1, 2020 at 6:38 pm

    I’m so sorry!!!!

    Mike Foster in IG lost his dog and had a podcast about grieve after the loss of his dog. Might be something to listen too. He really is an amazing man!

  36. Sharon on September 7, 2020 at 8:45 pm

    I just happened on your post and truly feel the pain in your heart.
    I am so sorry that your Bella did not live forever, I wish that for mine too.
    I see that someone came to your home, if you would be so kind as to tell me who that was, I would appreciate it.
    Thank you

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