On Jan. 17, the New York Post headline read “Queens pup hits jackpot in ma’s will.” Then in screaming solid caps it said, “THE $1M MALTESE.” There was a large photo of white and fluffy Bella Mia and a photo inset of her “mommy,” Rose Ann Bolasny.
It’s partially true. Rose Ann, a 60-year-old accountant in Queens and her retired husband Walter, 82, have bequeathed a house to her and money for expenses. Look, there are people who love their dogs and then there are people who love their dogs. So what if the Bolasnys consider Bella their daughter? Buddy, my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has always been my hairy little son. When I introduced Buddy to my youngest niece, Nina, she was 5 and transfixed.
“You’re Buddy’s mother, right?” Nina asked. I nodded and smiled. She cocked her head like Buddy does when he’s confused and asked me, “But did you born him?” So, when Rose Ann says she loves Bella Mia “as if I gave birth to her,” believe me, I understand.
Rose Ann and I have chatted many times. She’s a member of the tightly knit New York City community of dog devotees who make it their business to constantly raise money for animal shelters. The main draw at many of these NYC dog functions is the fabulously festive party atmosphere with canines dressed to the nines.
Rose Ann buys lavish costumes for Bella Mia, but what the Post didn’t bother to say was that many of the doggie fashion designers also donate gobs of money to animal shelters. Anthony Rubio, a pet fashion designer who creates many custom outfits for the Maltese, is one example. At the moment, Rubio is hard at work on Bella Mia’s gown for the Valentine’s Day wedding of her friends, pugs Rose and Kismet. Her date to the gala event will be Rubio’s Chihuahua Bogie, Bella Mia’s best friend.
When I asked Rubio about his latest charitable donations he said, “I donate from the sales of my creations to various charities. At my last fashion show, I made a substantial donation to the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals.”
The Bolasnys frequently take their well-coiffed “daughter” to nursing homes where she cheers people up, and every Sunday night, Bella Mia goes to the Ronald McDonald House to brighten the spirits of sick children. The fluffy white pooch is one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met, and every time I see her she looks like she’s smiling.
Rose Ann has two sons, Louis, 38, and Robert, 32. Bella Mia became part of the family when Walter wanted a service dog after a surgery left his arm partially paralyzed. Rose Ann never had a dog and was feeling lukewarm about the idea, but she agreed because it seemed like a good idea for Walter’s recovery.
Rose Ann fell for the purebred instantly and enjoys spoiling the dog — last year Rose Ann spent $100,000 on Bella Mia’s wardrobe, weekly haircuts and pawdicures. So, on April 16, Bella Mia’s third birthday, the Bolasnys bought the pooch a house in Florida and updated their will to include a trust fund for the Maltese. She will inherit the house plus six figures.
My editor Nikki M. Mascali was dying to know how one could make sure that a dog will be taken care of after the owners are gone.
“Everyone’s asking me. Obviously, Bella Mia cannot manage the will,” Rose Ann told me. “There is someone there who is managing it for her. There are specific instructions as to how the money should be spent. There’s money for her donations every year, there’s money for her clothes, there’s money for her travel because she goes to so many different shows all over the United States and money for medical bills in case she runs into any health issues.”
“We treat Bella Mia just as we did our children,” Rose Ann continued. “The three of us hug and kiss and cuddle together as a family all the time.” Her sons love their “sister” and will see to her care.
Hey, we all have our quirks. The Bolasnys greatest pleasure is pampering Bella Mia. So what? No harm, no foul. She’s lucky little Mama’s girl.
Watch the Barcroft TV clip:
Check out Bella Mia at “The Wigglebutts Go Hollywoof Benefit” where she won “Best Dressed” in an Anthony Rubio design:
Dorri Olds is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.