Favorite Christmas Memories from Our Staff

Christmas can provide some great laughs and memories. Since you allow us into your home and lives, we thought we would open up and share a bit as well! We asked the staff of Bella’s to tell us their favorite memories of Christmas past. Here is what they had to say:

pet sitter christmas
Pam’s favorite Christmas memory:

Nineteen – that’s how many comics would gather around the dinner table for the holidays.  My favorite holiday?  Maybe it was the holiday my sister’s dinner rolls were so hard we played baseball outside after dinner using a cast iron fry pan for a bat and her rolls as baseballs.  Or maybe it was the Christmas my mashed potatoes were so gooey, the kids made snowmen out of the leftovers and had them displayed on the fireplace mantel. (Did I mention we weren’t the best of cooks?)

Then there was the Christmas Grandpa sat on the recliner by the bird cage all afternoon quietly teaching the bird to say ” kill the cat”.  Or maybe it was every Christmas Eve because the same rented Santa came for 25+ years to have us sit on his lap while he read from his naughty or nice book.

A favorite holiday memory ?  They are all my favorite because with each one the house was filled with laughter and spent with the people I loved the most – my family.



Raini’s favorite Christmas memory:

One of my favorite Christmas memories is, oddly, from when I was seven years old and was very sick.  Every year my family would make a big event out of Christmas and everyone within a reasonable distance would spend the holiday together!  My grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, siblings, and occasionally family friends would all gather together and celebrate the holiday with a big feast and lots of activities.  I always enjoyed these big celebrations of Christmas (and still do to this day) and would always look forward to them as soon as Thanksgiving was over.  But one year, many years ago, I woke up very, very sick…
Originally I was quite distraught with my illness because I was quite certain that Christmas would not happen if I was sick!  Santa would surely never visit me if I was sick!  I remember waking up to my mom preparing me toasted bread with butter (which was one of my favorite breakfast foods) and I was delighted to discover that there were, indeed, presents beneath the tree (Santa, it turns out, does in fact show up if you are sick).   I remember spending that entire Christmas day romping around in my pajamas; I didn’t have to get dressed up for anyone!  Now, I couldn’t tell you what gifts I received that year (though I vaguely recall a Bendy-Wendy doll within the mix) but I can say with certainty that this particular Christmas memory is very unique to me, for it was the only Christmas that I can remember celebrating with just my Mom and Dad.  And it is still one of my most intimate and favorite Christmas memories to date!

Pet Hotel in Scottsdale
Aubrey’s favorite Christmas memory…

A favorite holiday memory of mine was a Christmas when I was a child.  I was spending it at my Father’s house with his wife and step children.  We opened all our gifts and everyone was happy and full of smiles.  The cats had opened their stockings and were playing with cat toys and inhaling catnip.  My dad suggested we watch the recording of us opening gifts.  He was into recording everything, all the time.  We had a ton of home movies so it was very common to watch ourselves doing stuff.  He popped in the vhs tape while we were all gathered around and the video started with a shot of the door to a spare bedroom.  Slowly the door opens and the camera pans to a little motorcycle wrapped with a bow.  We all knew what was happening except for my step brother who was about 12 years old so we were watching his reaction.  His jaw hung open and his eyes got wide.  He wasn’t even able to articulate any words, he just got up and ran for that bedroom with us trailing behind him and he threw open the door and raced to the motorcycle making all kinds of excited sounds.  It was wonderful to see him so happy and, most of all, surprised!


Bella says….

The holidays can be a magical time. Personally, I have great memories of running down the staircase with my Dad having the VHS camcorder on his shoulder as we come down to see what Santa brought us. My Dad always worked for the big toy stores growing up so we always got the latest toys… 🙂

But now that I am a Mom and this will be the very first Christmas I am home with my daughter Olivia, and husband Alex.  Last year, Olivia had just turned 5 months and was still in NICU and wouldn’t be coming home for another month. We celebrated Christmas in the hospital. This Christmas… we all (Alex, Olivia, myself and ROCCO) will be at home and there is nothing sweeter than that. For me, it is the simple things in life. So when I hear the song, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas…” I tear up at the “next year all your troubles will be miles away…” because they are now. My daughter is the best gift ever.

Christmas family

Merry Christmas from our Bella’s family to yours! Thank you for your continued business and allowing us the privilege to come into your home for the holidays!




How to Make Paw Print Ornaments with Your Pets

paw print ornamentsNothing is quite as special as the ornament that makes you smile every year as you hang it on the tree. What’s even better is when that ornament commemorates a loved one.  With just a few ingredients and an afternoon, you can easily have your very own paw print ornaments to hang on your tree every year.


What You Need:

2 Cups of Flour

1 cup of Salt

1 cup of room temperature water (lukewarm)

Pre-heat oven to 250°


The Process:

Mix the flour and salt into a bowl, then slowly pour in water as you stir until it’s a dough-like consistency.  If it seems too dry add a little bit more water, if it’s too runny then add more flour.  Knead the mixture for a few minutes until it is smooth, then roll into a small ball.

Use a roller to flatten the dough onto a cookie sheet lined with foil and press your dog’s foot into the salt dough; and don’t worry, if you don’t like the print you can always roll it back up and try again.  Once you have a paw print in the center of the dough you can cut the sides down and make the circle smaller and more define. Then use a straw to make a whole at the top for the string.

Then pop the paw print ornaments into the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes to 2 hours.  Times really can vary for this craft depending on your oven and the thickness of our ornament.  For Valentine’s Day I did salt dough footprint hearts with my son and it actually took four hours to bake because it was so thick.  The trick is to just keep checking it after 30 minutes and make sure it’s completely dry and hardened.


Visit for more info: http://www.homevolution.co/2012/11/dog-and-cat-paw-print-ornaments.html

Visit for more info: http://www.homevolution.co/2012/11/dog-and-cat-paw-print-ornaments.html


The Finish:

Once it is hardened and cooled you can paint the ornament with any colors that strike your fancy.  However, it does look best when you color the paw a different shade than the background to make it stand out.

After the paint is dry, spray the ornament with a gloss coat to protect it.  As soon as the clear coat is dry you can put a ribbon or string through to hole and voilà your paw print ornament is done!

Top 5 Dog Gifts This Christmas!


Well that time of the year is upon us. Time to begin the Christmas shopping. And as we all know, our beloved pets are at the top of those lists. What is a good dog gift could be  a question you are asking yourself. So yes, while you can run to the local Pet Store and grab a ball or a chewy, let’s put some thought into their gifts this year! Below are only a handful of awesome goodies that will not only bring fun and joy to your pet, but will also have other added benefits such as exercise and mental stimuli! Here we go!

#5 Who wouldn’t like a sip of fresh, crisp water after playing all day? I think Fido would love getting his paws on a filtered water fountain! What this gadget does is re-circulates the water, keeping it fresh and clean via a filter. It is stylish and may even help your pooch with the goop found in their eyes. Vets say to try giving your pets clean or filtered water or even distilled water as it contains less chlorine and contaminants which are found in many municipal drinking water systems. Always remember; your dog needs access to water 24/7

stainless steel bowl

#4: How about a new leash and collar?Many times our pooches have grown like a weed and we don’t seem to notice. In our eyes they are puppies still. But as your pet grows, so does their need for a new collar as well as a good leash.   Make sure your pet has a nice, comfortable and CLEAN set.

Cute Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy training on a red leash.


#3 Most dogs love their beds. It is a safe and cozy place all their own. This Christmas get dog a new bed. And while you’re at it, make it a self-warming bed. It is a great idea and practical if you’re living in a cold city, have no carpet in your home or have an older pup who has joint and arthritis problems.

brown fluffy dogbed on white

#2Give a dog a Home! There are so many pets that are in our shelters, think long and hard and make the commitment to adopt a dog! Not sure where to start? Why not check out the Arizona Animal and Welfare League & SPCA?


#1:  The top item on every dogs wish list is YOU! Give your dog MORE of you. Your time, your attention and your love. Take your pup out for more walks, more play dates and spend more time with all. So wrap yourself in a big bow this Christmas. After all, all your dog really wants is you…..

Little girl and dog opening a present

So what do you say? Fido is top dog, isn’t he? A top dog deserves a great dog gift for this Christmas! Get to shopping, now! What present are you putting under the tree this year for your best canine pal? We’d love to hear!

3 Ways Include Your Pets In On Hanukkah

10 Tips to create a dog friendly home for the holidays (1)

Hanukkah serves as a reminder of hope, renewal and rededication to the Jewish community.  In many homes across the world, the eight days of Hanukkah are observed and celebrated by the ritual lighting of a candle as well as the giving of gifts.  So, what if one of your family members happens to have fur? As with any other holiday, we suggest getting everyone involved in the celebration, but how?


While the old custom of giving “gelt” or money is still around, you might not want to throw some cash towards your dog.  If he’s like most dogs, he’d probably just bury it anyway.  Burying money isn’t the best idea but, you can deposit his “gelt” in the bank or begin investing in a really great health insurance plan.  You’ve been meaning to save for that rainy day and there’s no time like the “present.” 



Nowadays, it is more customary to give gifts in lieu of the “gelt” or cash.  So, why not shower your best fur pals with a small gift or treat each night of Hanukkah? Have you treated your dog to the yummy treats from Three Dog Bakery yet?  If not, you should try these treats.  Even the most finicky dogs become hooked on these all natural treats. The fun doesn’t stop there though, Three Dog Bakery doesn’t just bake treats, they also sell bones and gourmet entrees.  I’m not even kidding!


Gift Basket

Keeping with the theme of renewal and rededication, why not begin by celebrating over a basket of goodies meant to be shared between you and your dog? Feeling a little more extravagant?  Take your best canine companion for an overnight stay in the cottages at the luxurious Arizona Biltmore Hotel.  They have a pet pals menu and their spa offers massages not only for you but for your dog, too.

Whether you and your family celebrate Hanukkah or not, we hope that this serves as a reminder that we all need a reminder of the hope and miracles of the season.  Wishing you the best as you celebrate the Festival of Lights.

2 Chances To Get Photos with Santa and Your Pets!

2 Events Left To Get Photos with Santa and Your Pets! (1)


Right now kids all across America are meeting and getting photos with Santa. But why should kids have all the fun?!  This year you should get your pet out there and snap their pic with jolly old St. Nick!  It would make a cute keepsake and a great Christmas card.  Don’t worry that you missed the 6th Annual Holiday Pet Festival last weekend, {video recap here} there are still a few places in the valley where you can go to take photos with Santa and bring your dog too! I mean, it’s not a true family event unless the whole family is there, right?

pet sitting christmas


12k’s of Christmas Run/Walk:

What better way work off the extra holiday calories than by getting out and getting some exercise for a good cause? This Saturday December 12th from 7:30 AM – 12:30 PM join the fun at Freestone Park in Gilbert for this family friendly fun run/walk!  There is a suggested $10 donation and you get to enjoy Santa’s Pet Village – complete with photos with Santa, Christmas caroling and bazaar, plus prizes and awards.  So much fun for a good cause, you don’t want to miss this one!


Carefree Christmas Festival:

If fun run’s aren’t really your thing and you want something a little more relaxed, then the Carefree Christmas Festival is for you!  The festival actually starts on Friday night and is going on all weekend long, but they are definitely saving the best for last.  On Sunday, December 13th from 9 AM to 5 PM at the Sanderson Lincoln Pavilion in Carefree is where you want to be.  There is a Dog Parade at 10 AM and also photos with Santa for a $20 donation.  Click the link above for details about events and times to make sure you don’t miss out!

French bulldog in santa hat under christmas tree

{Personally, we will be at this one! It is a great annual event and Saturday evening they have a great parade too!}

There is a lot of Christmas fun for the whole family going on this weekend, so don’t miss out! Santa pictures are a terrific way to remember a special Christmas season with your loved ones. You can also see if your local mall will let you take your pet in with the family for pics, but they may not allow it.  Your local pet store may also have a day with Santa, so be sure to ask them if you can’t make it out this weekend.

If you know of any, let us know and we would be happy to add it to our list!

Dec 9th update: Facebook follower Kay reminds us that Petco and Petsmart also have pictures on the weekends. Call your local store to find out the times and dates!

10 Tips for Creating a Dog Friendly Home for the Holidays

10 Tips to create a dog friendly home for the holidays

The holidays are here and it’s time to decorate and celebrate!  Now that Thanksgiving is over, the green light for Christmas is officially on and homes around the nation are gearing up for the festivities.  There is much fun to be had, but making sure you have a dog friendly home for the holidays is also very important.  Avoiding any unnecessary trips to the vet should be the top of your Christmas wish list and here’s how:


  1. Put the Tree in the Corner: A giant tree in your living room may be too much temptation for your dog. Putting it in safely in the corner will protect it from being knocked down by an anxious or excited pup.  Also, once it’s safely in the corner, you can put presents in front of it to deter them from trying to drink the water from the base.

 French bulldog in santa hat under christmas tree

  1. No Toxic Plants: Did you know most holiday plants are actually noxious for dogs? Poinsettias, Holly, Mistletoe, and even the needles from the tree can be harmful to your dog.  Ingesting these plants could cause serious illness such as vomiting, diarrhea, oral irritation, breathing problems and even death.  Play it safe and get the synthetic version of your favorite holiday foliage.
  1. Electric Candles: Most people love candles around the holidays, not only do they give a certain wondrous ambiance to a holiday party, they also make your house smell fantastic. However, they can easily be knocked over by a curious nose or excited tail. Stick with electric candles to avoid any potential burns or fires.
  1. Don’t Leave Out Gift Wrapping: Christmas and gift wrapping go hand in hand and what’s a gift without ribbon or a bow?  But if your dog gets ahold of the ribbon it could spell disaster or even death.  Not only is it an obvious choking hazard, if they swallow some of it the strands can get tied up around their intestines and cause serious complications.  Make sure to put up all your gift wrapping materials as soon as you are done.

Little girl and her dog opening a Christmas present

  1. Hide the Cords: With lights and decorations often come cords, tons and tons of cords.  These new and shiny decorations may evoke your dog’s curious side and they may not be able to resist chomping into one or two of them.  Of course, this could electrocute and seriously harm your pet, so please try and keep them as tucked away as possible.
  1. Put Ornaments Up High: Another way to make a dog friendly home is to put the ornaments up high.  Even if they don’t chew on them, they could knock some off and break them.  Not only do you lose your favorite ornament, they could get cut or even try and eat the shards.  Putting the ornaments up high will help dodge any trouble.
  1. Skip the Tinsel and Popcorn: Even though tinsel is super festive and fun, it moves with the slightest breeze and that can make it irresistible to pets. Like ribbon, if they consume it, it can wrap around their insides and cause major harm.  Same with strands of popcorn and cranberries.  Your dog may mistake this as tasty treats, not only can the string cause problems, they may ingest the tree’s pine needles which can be harmful as well.


Parson Jack Russell in bright red winter coat running at full speed towards the camera in the snow

  1. Get Outside: Making sure your pup gets enough exercise will help release their energy. This will make them less likely to jump on guests or get into mischief.  If you’re having a party, make sure to get them out for some good exercise and tire them out a bit before guests arrive.
  1. Tags and Collars: It’s a great idea to make sure their tags or microchips are up to date and even have a spare collar and name tag in the drawer. If they happen to get out during a party, or even just from having the door open while decorating, it will be much easier to find them and get them back home if they have the proper ID’s.
  1. Avoid Treat Temptations: Even though you are enjoying those delicious cheese and sausage balls or other Christmastime treat, your dog may not digest it as well. Stick to plain foods and their usual fare to avoid tummy aches.  You may want to stock up on extra treats for them so that when they are begging for a treat you’ll have something dog friendly just for them.


While decking the halls for the holidays, it’s easy to make sure that you make a dog friendly home with just a little consideration. After all, our furbabies deserve a happy holiday too!



5 Tips For Feeding Pets Thanksgiving Day Leftovers

Thanksgiving Tips

In my family we have a funny expression for when you’ve over done it at a meal and you are so full you think you’re going to pop.  We called it being “Dunlap done” or some of my Uncle’s even say they’re suffering from “Dunlap’s Disease,” meaning you ate so much that your belly has done-lapped over your belt. This happens usually around holidays or big celebrations where the food is so good and plentiful that you can’t stop eating.  Thanksgiving is definitely one of those times, but on Thanksgiving, even after everyone is “Dunlap done” there are usually still a ton of leftovers.  And you can bet that your dog is standing nearby with wide puppy eyes and a salivating mouth just waiting for a bite of that delicious food.  Of course we want our pets to enjoy some of the Thanksgiving feast, but there are a few tips you should know before you fork over the Thanksgiving Day leftovers.

  • Go Lean: Turkey is great for your pets, but make sure to take off the skin and leave out all of the bones.  The leaner the better, sometimes the greasy dark meat can have hidden bones or fat that could cause a tummy ache or worse.
  • Go Mild: Make sure potatoes and carrots are served up without a ton of butter or cream. These extra ingredients are great for us, but they may be too much for your pup’s stomach to handle.  It’s best to set them a serving aside before you load in the extras.
  • No Alliums or Xylitol: Alliums are found in things like onions, garlic, leeks, scallions, mushrooms, and celery.  These can actually turn into toxic anemia which is very dangerous for dogs.  So this mean definitely no stuffing or green bean casserole. Also, be careful of this relatively new artificial sweetner, Xylitol.  It can be found in sugar free treats, so if you or a family brings them, make sure they are nowhere near your pets as it can be deadly if ingested.
  • No Chocolate: Most people know this one, but just in case you’re new to dog ownership, chocolate is always a no-no.  This is especially true for baking chocolate.  If your dog got into your kid’s Halloween candy and was fine, don’t let that fool you into thinking it is okay for him.  Chocolate is bad for their heart and baking chocolate is more potent and could lead them straight to the ER vet.
  • Keep it Simple: Basically a dog’s digestive system is not as complex as ours when it comes to spices and rich flavors.  They don’t need a lot to be happy.  Green beans by themselves without the casserole is perfect, or mac without the cheese works well too.  Just like giving them potatoes without butter or cream and a nice piece of lean turkey breast is best.  Keeping it simple will still make them incredibly happy without the tummy trouble.

We all want our fur children to enjoy their favorite “people food” treats so they know that they are a part of the family.  Because they are a big part of the family and including them in family tradition is important.  It is best, however, to make sure to tailor their treats to their digestive system, to avoid any unnecessary upset tummies or trips to the vet.  Keeping these Thanksgiving Day leftover tips in mind will certainly make sure that your dog has a happy and healthy meal with the family.


5 Things Your Cat is Thankful For

Cat Thanks

Photo from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Meooowllo my dear human, as I am curled up on your lap, I thought I should let you know how much I love you.  It being November and all, I figured why not jump on the Thanksgiving bandwagon and give you some much warranted praise.  I greatly appreciate how you cater to my every need and how you obviously know that I am in fact, the ruler of the house. This doesn’t only apply to me. I took a poll and this encompasses almost all of what every cat is thankful for.  So, as I purr you may pet me while I tell you all things I love about how you love me…

  1. Lap time: Let’s start with the cream of the crop, my all-time favorite part of the day is when I get to hop up on your lap and you pet me so sweetly. I wait all day for when the time comes that you sit down and get comfortable, then I come out and pounce on your cozy lap.  It’s not my fault that your sitting position is the perfect warm bed for me, in fact you may want to thank me for the chance to snuggle.  We all have heard about how having a pet can add years to your life, so this one is kind of a win win for us both!
  1. Naps: I also like how you let me sleep pretty much anywhere and as much as I deem fit.   This includes laying on your lap as previously mentioned, even if your legs are asleep and you have to pee really badly.  My purrs are persuasive and you usually let me lay on your as long as you can psychically take it, thus extended my much needed cat nap. And for that, I thank you.
  1. Treats: I love love love it when you give me treats. Whether it’s yummy cold cuts, delightful table scraps or Whisker Lickins, I’m always pleased to have a little extra.  If I’ve learned anything from the Garfield cartoons I sit on while you try to read the paper, it’s that a fat cat is a happy cat and that’s a fact jack.
  1. Play time: My cat nip toys, feather wands and that crazy red light you pull out are sooo much fun to play with! Even though a fat cat is a happy cat, there’s no reason to avoid all physical activity. It’s good to unwind with a nice toy and let my inner kitten out every once in a while.  So, I thank you for my toys and for playing with me.
  1. Letting me sit: Speaking of sitting on your newspaper, that’s another thing I’m thankful for, being the center of your universe. Whenever you get settled at the table with your attention focused on not me as it should be, I’m always there to remind you that my fluff comes first. And you usually give me the prescribed pets before returning to your work, which is exactly how it should be.

It’s always good to feel appreciated and that’s why I wanted to let you know that your efforts do not go unnoticed. Without you, my life would be lonely and devoid of warm laps and fresh treats.  That is a ghastly thought, so therefore I thank you for all that you do! And like I said, this goes for what every cat is thankful for. Not just me! 🙂

How to Turn Thanksgiving Day Leftovers into Dog Treats!

Tday Treats

It’s almost time for Thanksgiving and while we prepare to sit at our bountiful tables, it occurs to me, why should we have all the indulgences?  Our ever dutiful and thankful pups also want to enjoy some special dog treats this holiday season too!   We’ve collected a handful of dog treat recipes that your pup is sure to love!

Turkey Meatloaf:  This one sounds so good I think I would eat it!  Combine oats, eggs, carrots and sweet potatoes with ground up leftover turkey and serve it up!  Cover it with just a smidgen of gravy and your pooch is sure to like the plate with this one.

Hound Hash:  Make this one with cut up turkey scraps, (make sure there are no bones or skin) toss with finely diced white and sweet potatoes with some chicken broth. Maybe drizzle a little bit of gravy on this one too, for a little added flavor, I mean it’s Thanksgiving after all!  I’m declaring that this one is sure to be a hit with the hound!

Pumpkin Pie Biscuits Pumpkin is an excellent food for your pup and there is no doubt they will love this little sweet treat!  Just make sure not to use pumpkin pie filling, get the can of pureed pumpkin or make your own puree fresh to really pack in the health benefits!

Turkey and Cranberry Treats:  I don’t think you can go wrong sharing the traditional turkey and cranberry combo.  As for treat making goes, this one is seriously easy too.  Cranberries packs a healthy punch as well, so I say this one is a must make.

Just for Dogs Thanksgiving Meal:  It is pretty much a complete Thanksgiving meal made especially for your dog.  It has turkey, gravy, sweet potatoes and cranberries all together.  I think if you put a little bit of leftover mashed potatoes and stewed carrots with this and your dog will be in holiday heaven.  Just make sure the potatoes and carrots don’t have too much butter or cream and they will love it!

Make sure to click the titles up there to get the details on how to make these delicious little delights.  There’s no reason to leave our furbabies lacking this holiday season, so let’s make sure to include them in the kitchen.  Happy bellies for all!



5 Things Your Dog is Thankful For

Photo from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hey!  It’s me, hellooo?  I’m down here, yeah, down here under the table, it’s me your lovable and ever dutiful pooch!  Now that I have your attention, which by the way, I should have had all along because I’m worth every second of your time…just saying, but I wanted to let you know that I love you.  I hear you all talk in November about all the things you’re thankful for and I thought maybe you should know that there are a few things that I am thankful for as well, just so you know…

Here are 5 Things Your Dog is Thankful For :

1 – Snuggles and Pets – I like way we cuddle in the bed or on the couch and the way you hold my head when you’re watching TV.  It doesn’t get much better than a warm lap and a soft blanket basked in the soft glow of the TV.  It makes happy when you scratch that special place behind my ear, oh yeah just like that!  It’s perfect.  Snuggling with you is really the best part of the day.

2 – Treats under the table – Now you may think I’m saying this one just to set you up for some Thanksgiving treats, but that’s not it at all (okay, well, maybe just a little bit).  But, really, I do love it when you let me sample your food!  I feel like a part of the family when I get to try what you’re eating and feel marvelous when you think of me at dinner time.

3 – Walks and Playtime – Sometimes all those treats at the table catch up with us and we need some exercise.  I love it when you take time out of our busy days to walk with me.  What I love even more is playing catch and tug a war with you.

4 – Car rides – Car rides with you are the best!  I love sticking my head out of the window and letting the breeze flow.  It’s even better when we’re taking a ride to the park where we can walk and play!

5 – Belly Rubs – Yeah yeah yeah, this one is my favorite.  I absolutely love it when I flop on by back and you rub and pat my belly.  It’s so comforting and I always feel like the most loved pup in the world.  It makes my day to know that you love me too!

I love you so much my dear human, you’re my favorite person in the whole world.  I don’t know what I would do without you and just thought you should know!