The Pack

Meet the Pack!

Happy New Year and welcome to Miles with Bella! You may already know my 6-year-old black lab, Bella, the inspiration behind this storytelling adventure, but she has two four-legged siblings who I’d like to introduce.

THE PACK: Cora, Pip and Bella wish you a Happy New Year!

First, we have the beautiful guardian and matriarch of the pack, Cora, a 13-year-old Hound-Rhodesian-Ridgeback cross (at least that’s what we think she is). We adopted Cora from a shelter in North Carolina where she had come in as a stray. She was about 4 months old and quickly grew into a 90-pound beauty with quite the personality.

Next is lap-warmer extraordinaire Pip, a 6-year-old Shih Tzu-Maltese cross (again, our best guess). I found Pip when he was about 4 months old. He was wandering around an apartment complex and came running up to me—a matted ball of fluff with the biggest eyes. I worked with the local vet clinics and animal shelters to see if he had run away, but after two weeks there were no takers. So, he became a Mellace. These dogs are the furry loves of my life and well-loved members of the Mellace family.

My human loves will make appearances in my adventures, so I should introduce them, too. Vince is my soulmate and husband of 21 years. Loving, patient, and, thankfully, a dog lover! Connor, our 18-year-old son, is in his senior year of high school and awaiting word from colleges to see where he’ll be heading next year to pursue a degree in meteorology. Sophia, our 15-year-old daughter, is a sophomore in high school, a horseback rider (taking after her mom), and hoping to pursue a degree and future career in marine biology in a couple of years. These amazing humans are my cheerleaders when it comes to all the adventures in my dog-filled life.

MY TWO-LEGGED KIDS: Sophia and Connor chasing waterfalls with me in Thurmont, MD.

So, what prompted Miles with Bella? Bella came to us in May 2019. While I have never turned an animal away, let’s just say I was reluctant to take another dog into our home at the time. Cora was getting older and has always been a challenge with other dogs. For years I tried to get her over her leash aggression, but we never quite got comfortable with walks and socialization. She LOVES her humans unconditionally, but she’s very particular with other dogs. After years of having just Cora and Pip, I was afraid another female dog (young and brave) might really upset the apple cart—but we decided to give it a go. With the help of our dog trainer (the BEST on the planet), we introduced Bella to the pack, and here we are.

SHARING: It didn’t take long for Cora and Pip to accept Bella.

Bella’s entrance gave me the opportunity to have a dog I could walk and run with. Something I haven’t had in years! (Pip is great for shorter walks, but not quite up for my woodland adventures.) Bella, meanwhile, hadn’t been walked very much by her previous owners and was thrilled with the prospect of accompanying me. We started with morning walks and then I introduced running. She was a star. Today, she accompanies me on most of my miles, but I will (reluctantly and much to her dismay) leave her home when I head out for more than 6 miles.

Before Bella, I would run 3-4 times a week. On the days I didn’t run, I didn’t walk either. Bella changed that. When we aren’t running, we’re walking. She has been the impetus behind me getting more time on my feet and, therefore, way more time to recognize the beauty all around me. And while I’ve always been good at taking pictures when I’m out running (I’m the self-proclaimed trail paparazzi), I’ve become more thoughtful about chronicling my outings.

RECENT #MILESWITHBELLA: Exploring a new-to-us section of the AT in Pennsylvania.

The pictures help me appreciate the fact that I have my health and can be outside enjoying my surroundings. I’m grateful for my two legs that help carry me forward (slowly, but forward!) down the trail, through the park, or through my neighborhood.

NEIGHBORHOOD SHOT: These gorgeous pines are part of our neighborhood route.
I like to capture them in different light throughout the seasons.

My miles with Bella have taught me to slow down and appreciate what I have and what surrounds me. We’ve seen beautiful sunrises, stunning sunsets, amazing vistas, and met some wonderful people along the way. My goal is to continue these miles and pictures and continue sharing for those who wish to see them and read about our adventures. Maybe there will be some tidbits of wisdom, maybe not! But I can promise you some beautiful scenery and unique ways of looking at things.

I hope you’ll join us!

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