The Belle of the Ball: A Westie Rescue Story

Jan 16, 2016 | 2016 Articles, Animal Rescue Adventures, Lee Juslin

by Lee Juslin

Bella was picked up as a stray by a Florida shelter. It was immediately clear that she did not have the use of her back legs and that the shelter was not equipped to handle such a significant medical problem. This is where little Bella’s life took a significant turn because the shelter, instead of putting her down, sent her to a vet.

The vet determined that at some point in her puppyhood, Bella’s back was broken and she had never received proper veterinary care. In addition, she had been kept in a crate. As a result, her rear leg muscles atrophied and her rear end was stained brown from sitting in her own excrement.



The staff at the vet’s office loved her and allowed her to roam free in their clinic as much as they could. Bella, despite all her problems and mistreatment at the hands of humans, turned out to be a happy, gentle girl who loved people and other dogs. Because the vet staff loved her but wanted a chance at a better life for her, they called Sunshine State Westie Rescue (SSWR). When the rescue volunteer, Maggie, came to pick up Bella, the records were somehow transposed and Bella was listed as Maggie. So, the rescue decided to honor both Bella, the Westie and Maggie, the rescue volunteer, and re-named the little Westie, Bella Maggie.

Sunshine State Westie Rescue is a young group that had never had an in-take with such a challenging medical condition, but they didn’t hesitate to take Bella. After x-rays and a thorough vetting, it was determined that Bella’s spine was being pinched due to the damage done by her previous injury, but that she was not in pain. In fact, despite having to drag her hind legs, she was eager to play with toys and other dogs.

With the help of Hailey’s Wheels for Life, SSWR was able to locate a cart with another Westie rescue that was not being used. Aggie from SSWR was sure there would be an adjustment period for the little Westie, but no! “As soon as we hooked her up, she took off like a shot,” said Aggie. With the cart, Bella’s life changed and she was able to play and run around her foster mom’s yard like any other young Westie. Then, an amazing thing happened: with increased exercise, the muscles strengthened in her back legs and soon she didn’t need the cart at all and was able to walk, run and play on her

Bella Maggie has come a long way thanks to the determination and care of SSWR. Technically, she is available for adoption, but it would take a special person. The vet feels that Bella’s condition will return and at that point she would probably need a rather expensive surgery. So, any adopter would have to be prepared financially and emotionally to handle Bella’s future. Meanwhile, if adoption doesn’t happen, Bella is happy and well cared for in her foster home, and SSWR is ready to handle whatever the future brings.

You can learn more about Bella Maggie on her special Facebook page where her activities are followed by her legion of fans: Bella on FB.

Learn more about Hailey’s Wheels for Life on their FB page: Hailey’s Wheels.

You can learn more about Bella and her friends in Sunshine State Westie Rescue on their FB page. Volunteer, make a contribution, apply to adopt a rescued Westie, or sign up to be a foster parent which are sorely needed at this young rescue: SSWR.

SPECIAL EDITOR’S NOTE: Bella’s foster family has decided to adopt her!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Princess, from Coastal Carolina Boston Terrier Rescue, has been adopted! We featured her in a past rescue story:

Want to know how to see your ad like this at the end of an article? Email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] for more info. 10% of all ad sales goes to animal rescue.

Lee Juslin is a free lance copywriter living in North Carolina with her husband, Scott, and her band of misfits: Tarquin, a Wheaten Scottish Terrier, and three handicapped cats. They can be seen on their website: Hampshire Hooligans. She owns I B Dog Gone, a small embroidery business and is the author of the Nurse Frosty books for children and Frosty’s Story: Tales of a Therapy Dog. She supports a number of national and regional terrier rescue organizations.


  1. What a brave little Westie. She touched my heart and I hope she finds the most wonderful forever home.

  2. What a wonderful story. I know Hailey’s dad Mike from Facebook and he is such a caring person. He loved Hailey so much and now works tirelessly to help other westies and dogs have a chance for a better life. Bella is beautiful and Kudos to the rescue group who has given her a great life.

  3. Beautiful Maggie! Fits her perfectly — and I bet she enjoys Spaghetti and meat balls along with a slice of Haggis for Breakfast! ( not that these are appropriate food for such a wee lass — but just a taste wouldn’t hurt!) — So good to hear about PRINCESS too!
    Thanks for these ‘feelgood’ stories Lee — always look forward to your articles~

  4. Very touching story!

  5. Lovely story – and I am so glad Bella has found a perfect place. And, it is wonderful that Princess has found a forever home. Y’all are just full of good news today.

  6. So glad he has a good home.

  7. Bella Maggie is so sweet and courageous. She obviously has a spirited nature and I wish her all the luck and love in the world. She absolutely deserves to find someone as lovely as her.


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