Yesterday, we lost our first baby, Ellie. She had been going downhill lately, and just passed away while we were at work. She was twelve years old, a ripe old age for a dog. We miss her already. Here are some of the things I remember about her.
We first brought Ellie into our life just six months after we were married. I was in graduate school and worked over my Christmas break at the mall wrapping Christmas presents. Each day for lunch break I would walk around the mall. At Christmastime, the SPCA has a booth at the mall where they display animals needing a forever home. I have always been an animal softie - just ask my dad, who took care of my aging childhood animals after I left for college. Anyway, I kept mentioning the booth to S and how I thought, now that we had a house with a nice big backyard, we should get a dog. S was none too sold on the idea. He wasn't really interested in listening to my ramblings-on at all.
Ellie in her winter jacket.
Anyhoo, there was a dog named Sage that I fell in love with. I visited Sage there at the booth several days in a row, and really talked her up to S. Well, S decided to check ol' Sage out for himself. When he went to inquire after her, they informed him she had been adopted. Oh boy, did this help my ultimate ability to talk him into a dog. He drug his feet to get over to the booth and now the dog I loved was GONE. (Turns out she wasn't gone...and that she did eventually get adopted, but that's not this story.) So, he started looking at the other dogs.
A little video of Ellie, when I was trying out the new video camera.
There was a tiny puppy named Ellie. Ellie had been my college nickname - Elly Mae, to be exact, after the character on the Beverly Hillbillies. I acquired this name when one day I inadvertently referenced the fountain in the middle of campus as a pond. Elly Mae on the show called their swimming pool a cement pond. The name was given to me that day and forever stuck. So, when S saw this little dog named Ellie he decided he wanted to show me THAT dog as a possible alternative to Sage. She was cute, and a tiny puppy, and so I totally went for it.
We lived in a very small house. No, seriously. It was very, very small. To add a dog crate to this house would have rendered one whole room out of service. So, we decided we would use our very small kitchen as the dog crate. We purchased a baby gate and put Ellie in the kitchen with the baby gate up when we went to bed. The VERY FIRST NIGHT she was in the house, she learned to climb that baby gate. She whimpered and cried when we left her there, and about twenty minutes later, she was out of the kitchen and walking into our bedroom. Funny thing is, the first person she came to was me. She bypassed me altogether and walked AROUND the bed to S and propped her paws up on the side of the bed. She knew who the softie was - he picked her up. I said, "I hope you're ready to sleep with that dog for the next fifteen years!" She didn't make it fifteen years, and she didn't always sleep in the bed with us, but she did sleep there many, many nights of her life. And always if there was a thunderstorm.
Hanging out in the old spare bedroom - now LM's room.
We house trained her lickety split. Ellie got rules - you could tell Ellie what to do and she would just do it. So, we said, go on the paper or outside, and well, she did. She never had an accident in the house.
We brought her home about ten days before we left town to go to Indiana for Christmas. When we went to Indy, S's parents kept her. She bonded with Cheryl in the time we were away - really and seriously. Cheryl was always one of her FAVORITE people. She knew her and couldn't contain herself when Cheryl came to see us. She would go all crazy like she did for no one else, just dying to see her and get attention from her. It is amazing to me how she bonded with her in that short time and how that was something she always remembered.
Ellie LOVED to play fetch, from a very early age. She actually had a heart condition that would not allow her to run except for in short stints. So, we would throw the ball or frisbee for a little bit and then we would all take a rest. Ellie would have run to catch the ball until she keeled over dead, she liked it so much, so you really had to regulate her activity in this way. She also loved to "de-fuzz" the balls - she would chew all the fuzz off a new tennis ball so all that was left was the rubber shell inside. She would also "eat" the middle out of a frisbee.
Ellie had a great big bark, which used to annoy one of our neighbors at our old house. This woman was evil in several ways, so this was just another way we saw her evil come out. She would come down and SCREAM at us about Ellie barking in the middle of the day. Sorry lady. But, not too sorry, because you're crazy. Ahem.
Our girl, while she loved rules, was a bit of a spaz. She would freak out when people came to visit. She never did really get along with strangers too well - she would tolerate them, but she liked having just her family around. She would jump up on people when they came to visit. We broke her of this finally, but not before she taught Echo to do it, and well, we have never gotten Echo to stop it. Second child...we probably didn't try as hard. ;-) She was so full of energy when she was younger that you had to direct it or she would just freak out. She liked a job to do, liked to follow you around, liked to be near you.
When she was small, I taught her to walk on a leash. It took a long time and lots of training, but she was a champion leash walker. It was a joy to take a walk with her. She would just walk right by your side, never pulling or going to sniff something. She would also stop at every intersection and sit down, waiting for you to proceed. Like I said before, she liked the rules, and once she knew them, she would follow them. She liked to follow the rules and the routine. Again, I never spent as much time with Echo on leash walking, so when you'd walk both of them, Echo would veer off course, stop to sniff, etc. You could tell this bothered Ellie - like she wanted to say, "C'mon Echo, follow the RULES!"
In the leather chair, her favorite spot.
One way she didn't follow the rules was when it came to the big leather chair in the den. Once we had that chair, we noticed Ellie was getting up in the middle of the night and sleeping somewhere else. During the day, we did not let them on any of the furniture (except the bed) and she was not allowed in the leather chair. One night when I got up to go to the bathroom I walked by the den and noticed Ellie, looking at me sheepishly, in the leather chair. I told her to get out! She did. But, she was getting up every night while we were asleep and doing this...eventually she won out and we let her sleep in that chair. We are both softies.
Ellie was a thoughtful dog. She worried about you if you were sick or sad. She even worried about LM. If he was crying in his room, she would sit outside the door with concern for him. She wanted to comfort the downtrodden, for sure. She liked to go places, but she was unsure of riding in the car. She would love to get IN the car, but then the whole ride she would pant like crazy and never lie down. Even on long car rides she did this, rarely resting.
We didn't know to "socialize" Ellie when she was small - if you have a puppy, you need to take them around other dogs while they are very small so they get used to other dogs. So, because we did not know to do this, she didn't like other dogs. She did eventually learn to just ignore other dogs, but she never liked them. Even Echo, who we brought home a year later, was not particularly her favorite living thing. Yes, she was good company, but Ellie could take her or leave her. Echo, on the other hand, would freak out when Ellie was taken away to the vet or something. So, I think this is going to be very hard on her for a while - she will miss her as much as we do, or even more.
Ellie loved her collar - her "necklace" - if we took it off to update her tags or for a bath, she got really nervous. I think she didn't mind baths that much except that her necklace came off, and she didn't like that. I don't know why this bothered her so much - I like to think it was because she knew that is what told everyone she belonged to us, and she wanted to make sure to stay with us. But, it was probably just because it was change, and Ellie liked things to stay the same.
We had Norman the cat and his brother, the dearly departed Noah, when Ellie joined the household. Ellie was smaller than them when she first came to the house, and they were there first, so she would always demure to Norman. If Norman wanted her dog bed, she would let him have it. If he was sitting in her favorite spot, she would not run him off. And she would let Norman rub ALL OVER her, purring as he went. And now Norman has outlived her too, old cat that he is.
Both she and Echo like rawhide bones, but much like she went about everything else, she would chew on them until it made her mouth bleed. She really couldn't stop a good thing. So, we eventually had to stop giving her the bones. But, one time when they were young, we had given them both rawhide bones. Echo always finished hers first, so she would go to try to steal Ellie's. This second bone usually got stolen back and forth between the two of them several times before it ultimately disappeared too. One day, Ellie got the bone back when we had piles of laundry sorted in the hallway. When Echo went by, she covered the bone with some dirty clothes and laid on the pile like there was nothing going on until Echo passed by. Then she retrieved the bone. She was a very smart girl.
Speaking of smart, she had a HUGE vocabulary. She not only new "outside, backyard, potty, go, lay down" and the like, she knew when you said "Walk" - so we started to just say "W" which she quickly learned meant Walk. Then we tried spelling it - "W-A-L-K". She learned that too. Same with "Ball".
Our girl knew several "tricks" and loved to perform for you. In fact, she loved it so much, and was so good at catching the frisbee in her younger days, that should would have been a great dog for the frisbee competitions and fair shows. But, we didn't get her involved in that early enough. IF you asked her, and sometimes initiated by her, she would "shake," "lie down," "catch it" and of course "fetch" anything. She would "stay" and "come" as well.
She did not like large bodies of water. When she was young we tried to get her to swim in a lake. She hated it! Even with a life vest on, she did not want to be in the water. She would not even get into a baby pool. We would get one in the summers to help them cool off. Echo will waller around in one. Ellie wouldn't touch it. However, if you turned on the hose, she loved to chase the water around and "eat" it.
Ellie started losing her eyesight a little over a year ago. It was a gradual process and while it clearly sometimes frustrated her to run into a wall or something, it didn't really seem to depress her or anything. She seemed in good spirits, just slower and weaker, until the end. She would even run after the ball with no sight, listening to where it would land and seeking it out.
She was an affectionate animal, looking for attention, loving a belly rub, wanting to be near you. She always sort of favored S, looking forward to spending time with him and laying by his feet. She was a good dog, a very good dog, and we will miss her until we see her at the Rainbow Bridge.
Love you sweet girl, Rest in Peace.
See you soon.