Smiling and Not Smiling

Our dog Ellie sits with her mouth closed in fallen leaves beside a tree near the dog park of Irving Park in Portland, Oregon in November 2011

With her mouth closed Ellie’s drooping jowls made her look sad and/or bored. In truth she was a bit bored on this occasion in the fall of 2011 and it’s why I didn’t take a ton of pictures of her on our walks even though I often took quick snapshots of the neighborhood itself. She loved going on walks with me and photos were an interruption in our fun time together, she couldn’t know I was capturing those fun times so I could look back and remember. My trick was to wait until she saw someone walking close or another dog approaching and she opened her mouth, for then the mix of sweetness and happiness that was our Ellie was on full display. These two pictures were taken less than a minute apart.

Our dog Ellie sits with her mouth open in fallen leaves beside a tree near the dog park of Irving Park in Portland, Oregon in November 2011

Merry Christmas!

Our dog Ellie looks back towards the house as the snow falls in our yard in the Irvington neighborhood of Portland, Oregon in February 2018

Uncertainty was the word of the day when I took this picture in February 2018. I was leaving the next morning for my interview in Arizona. Ellie’s health had faltered a bit and I silently worried her time was drawing to an end. Thankfully the snow didn’t keep me from getting to the airport and I got the job that brought us here. Best of all the pup bounced back and we got more than a year with her before age took its final toll. She gave me enough joy to last a lifetime, this pup, my hope is that joy finds you too not just this Christmas but in the years to come.

Sweet Dreams

An overhead view of our dog Ellie sleeping on the back porch of our rental house in Scottsdale, Arizona in October 2018

Last night I dreamt I was petting Ellie, I kept asking her “How are you here?” as I stroked her chest and rubbed her head. She didn’t reply (now that would have been telling) but she looked at me as she did in life, as though being with me made her the happiest pup alive. I decided I didn’t care how she was there, only that I would appreciate every moment for as long as she was, it was one of the sweetest dreams I’ve ever had.

Makes up for the night before when I dreamt I was getting relentlessly attacked by flying scorpions.

Bargaining With God

Our dog Ellie looks up while laying on her homemade dog bed in the living room of our house in Portland, Oregon on Halloween in October 2014

Our Heavenly Father,

Please let me live a long and happy life so I can look after my family no matter where they go. In return I promise I’ll be a good girl and not steal any pizza off the counter. Except I really like pizza and I know they want me to be happy and also someone needs to test it to make sure it hasn’t been poisoned. How about I promise not to steal any vegetables off the counter, they can cover it from one end to the other with broccoli and carrots and I won’t take a bite.

Also, I’m sorry I ate the entire batch of freshly baked cookies. And the tub of caramel. And …

Spread Eagle

Our dog Ellie lays on the kitchen tile with her legs splayed out to her side in July 2013

Ellie shows off her classic spread eagle pose on the floor of the kitchen of our house in 2013. It became her most common sleeping position late in life when getting up became more of a challenge as she could push off with her front legs to compensate for her weakening back legs, but it was always in her repertoire from when we first adopted her in 2009. On this particular morning we had adopted Boo the day before, he was staying with my wife in her office while Ellie and Sam and Emma were with me.

Calm Before the Storm

Our dog Ellie sleeps on her dog bed in the dining room of our house in Portland, Oregon in February 2018

Storms approached both literally and figuratively as Ellie slept peacefully in our dining room in Portland in February 2018. Snow would arrive that evening, making the walk to the train to the airport a little more interesting the next morning as I left for my interview in Arizona. A whirlwind followed as I’d get an offer right away, kicking off a storm of activity for the next month in the mad dash to get here. Through it all one of our biggest worries was her health, she had recovered from some minor issues she was having but we were about to put her through a three day drive. She did great on the trip though, we found a wonderful vet pretty quickly after we arrived, and remarkably Ellie would not only see us to Arizona but into the home we bought a year later. She was such a tremendous blessing in so many ways, this pup.

Calm in the Storm

Our dog Ellie basks in the sunshine with her head raised up next to the dragon statue on the playground at Irvington School in the Irvington neighborhood of Portland, Oregon in December 2017

Ellie basks in the warmth of the rare winter sun in Oregon, taken in December 2017 at her turnaround point that morning, the dragon statue at Irvington School. My team had been laid off a month earlier, and though that threw us into a period of uncertainty and stress that at times it feels like I haven’t fully recovered from, I so loved getting to walk her every morning that I sometimes have to catch myself from remembering this period overly fondly. We always started our walks at the nearby dog park but after that I let her choose her path and thankfully since I started saving the GPS tracks of every walk that fall, I can look back now at the routes she chose, depending on what she smelled with that amazing nose and what her body felt capable of that day.