Bella lives with the McBrides, who have several small children and often forget Bella's needs. She gets in trouble for things like trying to water the Christmas tree by peeing in the holder, and for knocking the tree down while trying to get her favorite snack (popcorn) off the tree. With another child on the way, the McBrides can't deal with "bad" Bella, and take her to a shelter. There, Bella is disabused of her notion that the McBrides are her parents and she is their child by another dog who informs her that she has owners who care mainly for their own convenience. When she is adopted by a young couple, the Roses, Bella finally gets the attention she deserves, but is always wary. When the couple is expecting a baby, Bella misunderstands some of their remarks and thinks she is going to be abandoned again, so she runs away. Eventually, she is able to make it home and learn that her forever family is not going to abandon her.
It's sweet that Standish based this book on her own dog, and I enjoyed that she tries to make readers understand that "bad" behavior often has very good reasons if you understand the roots of it. This can be extrapolated to the behavior of people as well! I also like that the Roses modeled proper pet owning behavior and give Bella such a good life! It's important that young readers understand that it's not enough just to own a dog, or even to love it. You need to take care of a dog and do the things that are best for the dog, not for you! I will say that Sylvie (my dog) now wants to know why she doesn't get ice cream every night! (Answer-- she has arthritis in her hip and must keep her weight down!)
Dog books are are popular with young readers, and this was a sweet story. This is a good choice for fans of Ellen Miles' Puppy Place series, Cameron's A Dog's Life Puppy Tales and Klimo's Dog Diaries.