Age has rendered Ellie mostly deaf so she can no longer hear me when I walk up to her. While she’s always slept on the kitchen tile or the hardwood floors, especially when it’s warm, she now often sleeps where I’ll have to step over her so she can more easily keep track of where I am in the house. The cats have adjusted by hopping over her when she inadvertently blocks them in a room.
At the dog park this morning the two other old black labs in the neighborhood were both there, one of their owners asked me if there was ever a time Ellie wasn’t smiling. I thought of all the solemn looks the pup has given me over the years when she’s been bored as I’ve photographed her, but I knew what she meant. That smile is contagious, I’ve seen it spread onto the faces of so many people who have met her. And countless times, to my own.