NORMAN — In July, Bella Mae the bulldog found herself in quite the prickly situation.
Being the curious bulldog that she is, Bella Mae decided to take on a fight with a porcupine that had wondered onto the property of her owners, Jerry and Allison Noles, for a quick drink out of the a pond adjacent to their Blanchard home.
The results? The porcupine fought back, leaving Bella Mae stuck with more than 1,000 porcupine quills in her face and the front part of her body.
“We were out of town. My mom called me and said, ‘I think Bella has been attacked by a porcupine.’ I said, ‘Can you send me a picture?’ It was very frightening,” Allison Noles said. “Because she’s a bulldog, it’s not like they just get in her nose; she got them in her head. At first we thought a few quills.”
Following the incident, Bella Mae was rushed to the Animal Emergency Clinic in Norman. From there, she had multiple surgeries, some lasting as long as three hours, and lots of doctor visits.
“Quills came out for probably three or four months. They continue to work their way out of your body. We still, here at home, had to remove quills. She had staples on her face, neck and foot,” Allison said.
The Noles have owned Bella Mae since Christmas 2009, but they never expected what would happen next to their beloved bulldog.
Video posted by Animal Emergency Clinic staff immediately went viral and could be seen on local television newscasts, BBC, Yahoo.com, MSNBC and YouTube, where more than one million viewers saw Bella Mae’s prickly face.
“We had people from Europe sending us care packages for the dog,” Jerry Noles said. “It was amazing the number of times it aired.”
After a few weeks, media attention died out for the 4-year-old Bella Mae. But now, her story has resurfaced. Bella Mae is featured in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Dare to Look!,” a 256-page book featuring a collection of bizarre and amazing true stories from around the world.
“They contacted us on Facebook saying, ‘I just want to let you know, Bella has landed a spot in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Dare to Look book.’ They are sending us a book with a certificate,” Allison said.
“Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Dare to Look!” is on sale for $29.95 and is available through all major booksellers.
Besides Bella Mae, readers of the “Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Dare to Look!” can learn about Kevin Mercado’s record-breaking feat of pinning 161 clothes pegs to his face, artist Ian Cook’s paintings made with remote control cars and Oscar the traveling dog, who has been to more than 30 countries in the past three years.
As for Bella Mae? She has made a complete recovery from her porcupine incident and now spends her afternoons basking in the warm Oklahoma sun, her mind absent from her popularity.
“She’s not as active as she was. She’s still loving and playful,” Allison said.