Bella was around one year old when she came to us. We knew she was still puppy-ish, and she had her adult teeth - which narrowed her age down to "more than eight months".
She had a very bad start to her life, and almost died... twice.
Preloved dogs can come with poor health and/or poor emotional stability. Bella's health was good by the time we adopted her, but she still had emotional scarring. She is not brave, fears doing the wrong thing, is overly eager to please, she fears plastic bags and cardboard, and falls in a heap if you shout NO.
My husband and I have always had big dogs in our home - and Bella is no exception. She's a Great Dane cross. When I say that to people, they don't know what to say and I always follow it with "but she's really not as big as a Great Dane".
In truth, we don't have any idea what she is crossed with. This can be one of the down sides of adopting preloved dogs. You could find that you never know what breed they are, when their birthday is, what their medical history is. You learn and grow together.
When you get a preloved dog, you probably won't know their history. We came across Bella's background by accident one day when we stumbled onto a picture of her on the RSPCA website. I had always felt we were doing something good for our dog, but to see what she had been through filled us with a sense of pride that we were really doing a good thing.
We have all had to learn as we go - but this has been a good thing. It has been such a good feeling to make Bella feel loved and safe and to see her blossom.
And let me tell you, Bella gives the love back... ten times over. One of the best things is to see the way she is filled with excitement when I get home from work.
If you are thinking about getting a dog, I encourage you to consider the preloved dogs that are in need of a good home. We would do it again. There are local dog shelters, the RSPCA (or SPCA), or there are even dog rescue groups - some of these specialise in certain breeds.
Give a preloved dog a second chance - all they want to do is be happy and make you happy.