It is with heavy hearts we honor the passing of Bella the Dog 10/26/2011. Eight years ago, the white stray canine wandered into our habitat and befriended The Sanctuary’s founding elephant, Tarra. The inseparable friends were incredible in their devotion to each other and the story of their unique bond has been shared around the world. Visit Bella’s Tribute page.
We love and miss you, Bella, and will continue to take care of your friend Tarra.
An Elephant Never Forgets—Her Friend
(CBS) It's the last thing you'd expect to see emerging from the woods of Tennessee—the last two things actually. Which is why CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman knew the story of Bella and Tarra would be big. He just had no idea how big.
"Tarra and Bella have agents now?" Hartman asked.
"It's all your fault," said Scott Blais, a cofounder of The Elephant Sanctuary.
"It is all your fault," agreed Carol Buckley, the other cofounder.
Buckley and Blais run The Elephant Sanctuary outside of Nashville.
"When that piece aired we were just bombarded with offers," Buckley said. "Books, movies, any number of things."
If you saw the original story, you know how elephants come here from zoos and circuses one by one—but stay here two by two.
"Every elephant that comes here searches out someone that she then spends most of her time with," Buckley said.
Of course, it's always another elephant, with the notable exception of Tarra and a stray dog, who just wandered on the property, named Bella.
"They drink together, they keep together, they play together," Buckley said.
And stay together—no matter what. When Bella got sick last year and had to live in the sanctuary office, guess who stood vigil? For three weeks, Tarra waited there.
"She was concerned about her friend," Buckley said.
"We had no choice but to bring Bella down to see Tarra," Blais said.
The pair showed such devotion, such tenderness and trust, it was almost hard to believe. The whole story seemed like a Disney movie to a lot of people - including people at Disney.
"Disney called, they actually pitched the movie," Buckley said.
Disney pitched a live action movie that would star Tara or another trained elephant. Buckley and Blais didn't have to think twice. The answer was "No."
"It just goes against the core of who the sanctuary is," Blais said.
"We don't want them to be in those environments where they're dominated and trained to perform for people," Buckley said.
Here at the sanctuary, they've got this crazy idea that animals—elephants especially—aren't just here to serve us. The honestly believe that some animals are here for the same reasons we are—to love and do for others, whether it's appreciated or not.
So, don't look for Tarra and Bella at a theater near you. But by all means, do look to them— the next time you feel like there's just no good in this world.