Posted by: Green Knight | November 10, 2011

Tarra & Bella

I was very distraught to learn that Bella the dog, Tarra the elephant’s best friend, was killed on October 26th, at the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee.  I bought a book about their unusual bond a couple of years ago at a favorite brunch spot (if you’re ever in St. Louis, stop by Jennifer’s Pharmacy and Soda Shoppe in Clayton and tell the “lunch ladies” that Bob sent ya).

Bella was apparently killed by coyotes, or that’s the theory, and Tarra carried her body back with her trunk.  I like coyotes, but canines can be mean to each other, not unlike another species I could name.  As to the third species involved, elephants are special in ways we’ve only been recently discovering over the last few decades, with their subsonic communications and high intelligence.  Tarra is grieving for her companion of nearly ten years.  The other elephants are being extra-nice to her, but I wish I could give her a mammoth- or mastodon-sized hug…my cheeks get wet over stuff like this, and it isn’t raining at the moment.

I have problems with this whole thing, though.  Bella was one of several stray dogs that have wandered onto the sanctuary grounds over the years, and that the staff have kindly accepted, but given her special relationship with Tarra, I personally would have kept her in a big pen at night, with Tarra nearby, especially after Bella’s spinal injury a few years ago.  Then there’s the soap opera stuff, with the sanctuary firing co-founder Carol Buckley a few years ago, who had had Tarra since the pachyderm was one year old; the firing was apparently due to a relationship split, and there are snakes (i mean lawyers) involved.  I get so damned tired of the ego trips in the rescue and environmental activist arenas!  Arrgghh!!  I say, check your hangups at the door and just do the friggin’ job.  It’s not about YOU, it’s about the critters, or the planet.  Does that make sense?

You can read about Tarra and Bella here:

On a more positive note, I called in to my friend Diane Tegarden’s environmental talk show, the Firewalker Flare, the other day, where I’ve been a guest a few times, and got good info on the great strides they’ve been making in solar energy lately.  I’m talking to my landlord about retrofitting our 1929 Spanish Renaissance apartment building with 73 units to go solar and save some juice.  Electricity prices have skyrocketed in Missouri compared to the rest of the US, and a lot of that is due to weak consumer advocacy and (well, cliché or not) industry greed and, umm, corrupt politicians.  They sort of go hand in glove, don’t they?  We have a lot of roof space; it’d be nice if we could save some bucks by putting some panels up there.

On a more challenging note, I encountered another calico kitty in front of my building tonight.  This one seemed too friendly-but-scared and too well-fed to be a feral, so may just be lost or belong to some idiot who thinks having indoor/outdoor cats is OK.  I happened to have a little can of Fancy Feast, so kitty got dinner on a blustery night under the van where she was hiding.  I do everything I can for my little furry felinoid friends, I just wish I got PAID for it…

Here are Tarra & Bella in happier days.  The book is well worth buying, and it’s by Carol, who got booted out of her own organization.  She has a new one now, Elephant Aid International.  I’m sure they’re both doing good work; sometimes the personalities are just too big for the room.  RIP, Bella.  Heal, Tarra.



  1. Bob,
    I’m also sad for Tarra’s friend, I know that elephants grieve. I saw a special about the Elephant Listening Project and they have such a social life, each member is important to the group. Bella will be missed. I hope and pray that Tarra will find another companion, but just like people, it’s not easy to replace a real friend.

    I frequent a mom and pop burger place that serves up big, simple breakfasts for a song, and I’ve noticed a darling black and white cat hanging around the parking lot. She looks tame, and the next time I go I’m going to take a can of food for her/him. I wish I had a huge farm and an endless supply of money and I’d adopt all the lost/lonely animals I could. Maybe someday if one of my books catches on and I start making real money, I will!

    Hope you get a chance to enjoy “Anti-Vigilante and The Rips in Time”, I’m interested in what you think of the characters/plot/story and if you’d read a sequel. I end it with a real cliff-hanger!!

    Diane Tegarden

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