Hurt to Healing: The Inspirational Story of Bellin, A Rescued Siberian Husky Who Became A K9 Therapist

 

 "Bellin"
Rescued May 25, 2011 ~ Journey to Rainbow Bridge March 31, 2021
 


“A butterfly always reminds that there is always beauty 
at the end of all the pain.”
 ~Unknown

 

While National Therapy Animal Day is held on the last day of the month of April, every day is a day to honor Therapy Animals for all that they do to help others. 


Over the years, I, along with my beloved FiveSibes, have met and become friends with so many wonderful Siberian Husky, northern breed dog, Therapy dog, and Epi-dog families. Some we met in person, some virtually. Regardless of how we met, the relationships we build are so important and ones I have always cherished. Now that the "we" here has now become "me " representing the "we," who are my #ForeverFiveSibes, I am carrying on our original mission of highlighting the amazing Siberian Husky in all of its glory, both as a working dog and as a family dog, whether rescued or raised, and ones with special challenges as well as healthy Sibes. As my motto on my show "The Sibe Vibe" states, "If it is about a Siberian Husky, we'll chat about it!"

Today, we are honoring the life and work of a very special Siberian Husky who recently earned his furangel wings and whose family I have come to know over the years and not only respect, but am privileged to call my friends--they are Bellin and his amazing humans and handlers, Steven and Kassia Fontenot, a/k/a Team Bellin.  

Bellin's rough beginnings, before being rescued by 
Texas Husky Rescue.

If you are not familiar with Bellin's story, it is one worthy of knowing. His beginning is truly a heartbreaking one. He was once an at-risk dog that was horribly abused and a barely recognizable Husky. 
 
"Bellin had been recently beaten badly, weak and lethargic, battered and bruised: he seemed to have no spirit, no spunk; almost catatonic. He was emaciated, about 30% underweight. His coat was missing huge sections of hair and what hair he did have was about as bad as you might expect. He appeared to be about 3.5 years old and appeared to have lived this way his whole life," explains the Fontenots. "Bellin’s bellows were described as 'haunting.' Whether it was cries of terror and fear when being beat, or hollow howls of pain and hunger when abandoned, it was more than anybody could take.
"
  
On May 15, 2011—eleven years ago today— Bellin became a community action criminal abuse seizure performed by animal control, and that is when his life miraculously began to turn around.
 
 💙 What Love Can Do...
 
 
Thankfully, Bellin was rescued by Texas Husky Rescue, and began his journey on the road to healing. First fostered, and then adopted into his forever family, the Fontenots, where Bellin blossomed into a beautiful, incredibly sweet, and healthy red and white Siberian Husky. But Bellin's story did not happily end with his being adopted into a loving forever home. Slowly, he became rehabilitated, and when he could stop being scared and trust again, he began going to work at Kubena Pediatrics with his adoptive parents, "to play with all the kids," and so began his future. Bellin went on to leave his pawprint not only in the world of rescued Siberian Huskies, but also as an amazing, nationally registered Pet Therapist until his retirement last year. In his role,


Bellin helped heal others and brought thousands of smiles over the years to the faces of children, veterans, the elderly, and everyone else he met along the way of his very special journey. 
 
“Bellin was rescued in 2011, a survivor of severe cruelty. It would take a long time for him to heal, to trust, to love. After significant rehabilitation, Bellin would go on to achieve his Pet Partners® Therapy Registration," notes Bellin's hu-parents and handlers, Steven and Kassia Fontenot.  "Working with the Therapy Animals of San Antonio, Bellin passed his evaluations to earn his pet therapy registration with Pet Partners...(to) become one of over 11,000 nationally registered pet therapists."
 
Over his years of working, Bellin has compiled "over 575 official visits; 1,200 logged therapy hours; and close to that in rescue volunteer hours, bringing love and comfort with children in crisis all over San Antonio, Texas. Specializing in the fields of abuse and grief recovery, Bellin gave back what he, himself, received.
 
Team Bellin's motto has always been, "One Day, One Mile, One Step At A Time," and that is something for everyone to remember when seeing a dog in need. The dog you rescue could not only rescue you, but s/he could rescue someone else in need. For inspiration, one can ~ and should ~ look to Bellin's story to see how an abused dog can be transformed into a gorgeous, kind, loving dog who with time, patience, care, and love, overcame his own tragic past to help others who have experienced pain and suffering in their own pasts. Seeing a dog overcome such emotional and physical scars to blossom and love others is truly a dog's way. It is this author's personal opinion that humans could take a lesson from their book on how to treat each other.

 
Bellin went on to leave his pawprint not only in the world of rescued Siberian Huskies, but also as an amazing, nationally registered Pet Therapist.
 
 
A must-see video of Bellin's incredible journey. (Have some tissues on hand).
 
"Creating Bonds"
 


In April 2020, Marcella Hayes, Assistant Program Director at the Children's Bereavement Center of South Texas (CBCST) reflected upon the years of service Bellin gave. “Bellin is fully retired now and he will be missed, but because of his tenderness with children, he will never be forgotten.”  

The Benefits of a Therapy Animal 

According to the Mayo Clinic in Pet Therapy: Animals as Healers, "Animal-assisted therapy can significantly reduce pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue in people with a range of health problems."

The benefits of a Therapy Animal are many, and not just for people who have the health problems. "Family members and friends who sit in on animal visits say they feel better, too. Pet therapy is also being used in non-medical settings, such as universities and community programs, to help people deal with anxiety and stress."

I had the pleasure of speaking with Bellin's loving family, Steven and Kassia, on a past episode of my show "The Sibe Vibe" that aired  back in 2014 on Dog Works Radio, when Bellin was rising to the top of his career. To listen to Bellin's amazing story from abused Husky to a Therapy Dog, tune in here. It's a great story and tribute to an amazing Siberian Husky and his family.



 Over his years of working, Bellin has compiled "over 575 official visits; 1,200 logged therapy hours; and close to that in rescue volunteer hours, bringing love and comfort with children in crisis all over San Antonio, Texas. Specializing in the fields of abuse and grief recovery, Bellin gave back what he, himself, received.”
~Steven & Kassia Fontenot of Team Bellin
Bellin’s Hu-Parents and Handlers


From Cruelty to Coronation, And In Between


Bellin's story and work has been covered by the media from TV to podcasts to magazines. He has visited and participated in so many events over his career. According to Team Bellin, he was even honored "for his dedication and commitment to the children of San Antonio" as the 2018 King Anbarkio. 

If you are not familiar with these events, this is all quite the big howl! According to Team Bellin,  there are two royal canine positions for each Fiesta San Antonio season. "King Anbarkio," sponsored by the Therapy Animals of San Antonio and "The Court of El Rey Fido" sponsored by the San Antonio Humane SocietyA little background: according to the Fiesta San Antonio, "Fiesta® San Antonio started in 1891 as a one-parade event to honor the memory of the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. Fiesta® has grown into a celebration of San Antonio’s rich and diverse cultures." Fiesta has grown so much, that the Fontenots explain how it has become "a massive 10-day, 100+ citywide event! Each event is to benefit a local charity or cause. There is nothing quite like it anywhere." And the Fiesta events draw hundreds of thousands visitors! 

"Royal" Bellin Raises Funds for Other Pets in Need...

"What people don't know is that Bellin Bellin (made) Fiesta history as the only dog to have held both royal canine positions," notes the Fontenots. And, in 2015, "Bellin was inaugurated into the Court of El Rey Fido for raising over $20K so other dogs and cats could get a second chance at happiness just like he did."



Letter to U.S. Veterans From Bellin Bellin:

An Open Letter to Veterans on Veterans Day 2020:

"A very special THANK YOU to all our wonderful Veterans, Your service, your honor, your sacrifices are the reasons we all get to live a life of freedom. We have cherished every moment and memory of our therapy work with you and your families. Whether visiting with a wounded serviceman (or woman), supporting your children after a loss, or spending the holidays with your families while you are away at station ... it is an honor to give a little bit of that support back. We can all find some way to give a little back." ~Team Bellin


Being a Pet Therapist is Such an Important Role.


Being a registered Pet Partner Therapy Dog is something very special. "Together, we can improve human health and well-being through the power of the human-animal bond," it states on their website. "The human-animal bond is so important in so many aspects, but especially in healing."

 “Bellin’s journey said everything about the bond between humans and dogs," says Annie Peters, President and CEO of Pet Partners. "First neglected and hurt by the worst of humanity, his rescue was a story of hurt to healing. As he came to trust Steve and Kassia, his true self emerged. The pictures of his transformation are breathtaking. Going on to pay that healing forward, Bellin brought hope to so many people, never looking back and showing what unconditional love and a connection can do for people in need.”


"Bellin has taught us that we can heal and through the cracks a garden of love can grow. Today, we take all the special lessons that Bellin has taught us and we begin our own journey down the road through grief. One Day, One Mile, One Step At A Time."
~Steven & Kassia Fontenot; Team Bellin


While it is with great sadness that Bellin earned his furangel wings on the last day of this past March, he will be loved forever and missed by so many for the help and joy he brought to those in their time of need. Bellin's legacy will live on through the many lives he has touched.

In a message to supporters and friends of Bellin, his loving furparents, Steven and Kassia, shared these words, "It ended as it began...with a kiss. Bellin Bellin passed gently away in our arms, sharing his love until the very end. With wings made of your love, Bellin's spirit has ascended into the heavens. May his loving light forever shine down upon us all."

 

 “Bellin’s journey said everything about the bond between humans and dogs. First neglected and hurt by the worst of humanity, his rescue was a story of hurt to healing. Going on to pay that healing forward, Bellin brought hope to so many people, never looking back and showing what unconditional love and a connection can do for people in need. As the leading therapy animal organization, Pet Partners was proud to have Bellin as a volunteer and such an impactful ambassador." 
~Annie Peters, President & CEO of Pet Partners
 
"From his first kiss-a plea for help, to his final-an affirmation of our unbreakable bond, Bellin has been our heart," continues Steven and Kassia. "Our furry embodiment of unending love. While our souls are shattered, Bellin has taught us that we can heal and through the cracks a garden of love can grow. Today, we take all the special lessons that Bellin has taught us and we begin our own journey down the road through grief. One Day, One Mile, One Step At A Time."

Adds Annie Peters, "As the leading therapy animal organization, Pet Partners was proud to have Bellin as a volunteer and such an impactful ambassador."

Bellin's story is a truly remarkable one of how a severely abused, beaten, lethargic, and an almost death row dog, was not only rescued, but channeled his own abuse into helping others, becoming a loving registered Pet Partners Therapy Dog, and a true K9 hero to so many. 

So the next time you see a dog in a shelter who may at first glance not look "beautiful" ~ think of Bellin and all the beauty that was within him and through the Texas Husky Rescue that stepped in to help him, and his loving family, the Fontenots, that beauty emerged as he was given such a wonderful life full of love that led to his becoming a happy, healthy, gorgeous Therapy Dog.

Bellin left behind a wonderful legacy of "pawing it forward" to help others through their grief and anxiety by sharing his love, and often with a lot of Husky kisses! Bellin was a special boy--a dog who through his own experiences with abuse, grief, and finally love, was able to lead the way for people in need to a brighter day, one filled with moments of joy, as only a loving dog can do.

 

 Bellin pictured in front of the beautiful butterfly bench at the Children's Bereavement Center of South Texas. The bench holds special meaning and was gifted by Zak Williams, the son of Robin Williams who was the guest speaker at the Center's 20th anniversary luncheon in 2017. According to their site, "He was so touched by our mission and facility that shortly after returning home, he gifted the center with this beautiful butterfly bench that our children get to enjoy in the outdoor space."

🐾 ~DWR~🐾
 

 
If you'd like to know if your pet is eligible to become a registered Pet Partners Therapy Animal, visit their website HERE.
 
 
If you'd like to see some of the beautiful rescues at Texas Husky Rescue, visit their website HERE.
 
If you'd like more info on the Children's Bereavement Center of South Texas, visit their website HERE
 
A special thank you to Steven & Kassia Fontenot 
for sharing Bellin's story and his photos for this article.
 
💖
 
 
 

Comments

  1. Sweet Bellin was an Angel on Earth all along too. Such a beautiful soul.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What an absolutely beautiful dog and a beautiful life. I can see how special Bellin was. Therapy Dogs really do make a huge difference in the lives of people they meet. As you know, Icy was a therapy dog for years until her Pet Partners registration expired during the Pandemic. I've been waiting for the right time to renew it and start our visits again. This story is motivating me to do it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a beautiful tribute to such a beautiful special Bellin. Therapy Dogs are unique, angels and do so much no words can explain the amount they do. As a Domestic Violence Survivor I understand abuse and have learnt to love and care for others who come from that background, we, both animals and humans should not be abused.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm tearing up reading this beautiful tribute to this beautiful soul. Bellin left a huge impact in the world and on the hearts of so many people. Seeing how love and care transformed him over the years is remarkable. The same love he received as a young dog, was then poured into everyone he came into contact with as he got older. His legacy will live on forever. Pet therapists are such a gift. Rest in peace Bellin and bless his family.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Bellin is gorgeous! He Sounds like a really special dog he clearly touched so many lives.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Lovely tribute to an amazing angel with paws! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Bellin story from hurt to healing. By the end I was reading through tears. I'm glad you included the video so I could see him in action. The Fontenots are amazing people as well to work with Bellin in such a loving way to allow him to show everyone the angel he was and help those he was meant to help. I completely agree, rescues are great animals and will definitely give more than you can ever give them. Thanks for sharing Team Bellin's story. I'm sharing with my dog friends.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow, thanks for sharing Bellin's story. The abuse he suffered in his early years is unforgiveable, but I'm thankful that he was rescued and loved so much. His resilience is amazing and he brought a so much joy into many lives!

    ReplyDelete
  8. What an inspiring story. Love is what makes life possible. So important, so transformative.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It sounds like Bellin was such a beautiful soul! It takes a lot to go from such a dark background to helping people. He must have dealt with a lot of fear. Such a sweet story! Pets really can help relieve pain and anxiety. Mine help me all of the time. I know if I was in the hospital or grieving and someone brought a pet up to me for comfort, that would do the job (if only for a moment).

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Acupressure and Ice to Relieve Seizures and A #LiveGibStrong Epi-Tip

The Rainbow Bridge Welcomes A New FurAngel - Buddy, the Christmas Husky - A Forever Symbol of Hope for Rescued Dogs

Fit For Our #FiveSibes Alpha Queen: Celebrating Harley's 14½ Birthday

#PrayersForHarley - Dewclaw Tumor

Shave a Husky? Don't Do it!