The scar on Bella's body tells the horrific story of a choker chain embedded so deeply in the young puppy it had to be surgically removed. But it's the bewildered, stricken look on her face in the photo of her injuries that really drives home the horrors she's been through. David Haxton reports.
If Bella could talk she'd tell you how much she's loving her new family and environment.
The young mastiff X boxer dog has loving kind-hearted owners, gets fed daily, has water always available, is exercised and even has three beds all to herself.
Simply put: she has a forever home.
Her life is so different from a few months ago when SPCA Wellington found her wandering in Paraparaumu Beach starving and with a choker chain deeply embedded across her chest and shoulder.
Despite SPCA inspectors' investigations into her shocking treatment, the person or persons responsible were never able to be identified.
She was immediately taken to the society's Wellington centre for veterinary care including being put under general anaesthetic to enable the chain to be surgically removed from her body.
When she arrived into SPCA care she was terrified and shut down to everything happening around her.
But she was in the best of care and slowly but surely she got better and more confident until the society felt she was ready to go to a new home.
When Henry and Thea Nel read about the dog, then called Beanie, they travelled down from New Plymouth to meet her.
The couple were looking for a new pet after losing two in quick succession — their cat Bo had a tumour removed but didn't recover, and then their labrador Rocky died soon after.
"The vet said it was a broken heart," Thea said.
"The two of them were so attached."
Henry and Thea arrived at Wellington SPCA to see what Bella was like and if there was a connection.
"We just fell in love with her."
After the necessary checks, the society was happy for the couple to adopt Bella.
They drove back down to Wellington and collected their new family member.
Bella was the perfect travelling companion.
"She was a star and didn't whimper.
"We stopped frequently to let her out for a wee and a drink of water.
"She was very scared of the traffic and even a little park but we kept her close."
Bella has settled into her new life very well.
"She's absolutely incredible.
"She was very scared and clingy when we got her but she has developed into the most amazing little girl."
The couple take good care of her and even bought her a snug-fitting thunder vest when Guy Fawkes night approached.
"It's like a coat which you put on which hugs them and makes them feel like they're protected."
Bella has her own bed, in front of Thea's side of the bed, another bed in the lounge, and a bed outside as well as a kennel.
She has her own toys but especially loves playing with water.
"Whenever I do the garden and water the veges she's knows that when I've finished there's a bit of a play with the hose.
"She loves the water when I spray it around.
"We haven't taken her to the beach yet because we don't want to take her off the lead yet."
Bella is a happy and healthy dog who has "the most amazing glistening coat".
The couple are very glad to have her in their lives.
"Not a day goes by when she doesn't make us laugh.
"She's such a character and has a huge personality."