I took this picture of Ellie on Christmas Eve last year after I got back from my morning hike. She was deaf in her old age and often needed help getting up, so usually I tried to sneak past her sleeping by the door and get settled so that she would wake to the smell of a breakfast sandwich and I could help her get up and join me on the porch. That morning I tried to grab a quick picture while she was asleep but only managed to catch her immediately after she woke, in between the dream world and ours. In the next moment her eyes lit up and she tried to get up so I put the camera down and went to her aid. When we were in Portland and she was more mobile, as I walked home from the train and came up the steps and opened the door, she’d stick her head out before I could get inside, her feet dancing in joy. The best surprise of our time in Arizona was that she lived so long, and so well.
Time flies by ever faster, it’s hard to believe she’s been gone for half a year. Sometimes I still forget, the other day my wife brought in some potato soup topped with crumbled up bacon and I instinctively set a couple of small pieces aside so that after I finished and let Ellie lick the bowl she could get a taste of bacon. Then I remembered …
I took this picture immediately after we arrived in Arizona a year ago after a three day drive from Oregon. It was a lot to ask from a 14 year old pup but Ellie took it in stride, her ever hopeful spirit was such a blessing during a year of constant change. As long as we were together, she was happy, as was I.
Ellie and I taking advantage of a lovely fall afternoon in 2013 for a game of fetch. We didn’t have her when we bought the house so we got lucky that not only did we end up with a dog park nearby but with a fenced backyard with a nice area for play.
Ellie in the backyard in January 2009, three weeks after we adopted her. It looks a little posed, her paw on the tennis ball, but she did that in the early days. Did she stop it at some point? I remember her doing it back then but not after that, maybe it’s my faulty memory, maybe it had just been a while since she was able to run and fetch. She’s probably looking at my wife offscreen, she followed her everywhere in those days. Our bond became so strong for so long that it’s easy for me to forget that it took some time to form. The love was immediate though, on both sides, to know her was to love her.
From last summer, Boo relaxing on the tile floor next to a clump of Ellie’s fur. About once a week you could have assembled another dog out of the fur she shed, especially when a new coat was coming in. Her coat was so soft, people at the dog park always remarked on it when they petted her, which was often as she loved meeting people. I have to admit my estimation of strangers dropped a bit if they didn’t at least give her a pat on the head. Her estimation of them dropped a lot if she sniffed their pockets for treats and found them wanting. When she was younger she’d first sniff them surreptitiously from behind but in her senior years she stopped putting on airs and got straight down to business.
We developed a ritual, the pup and I, during our year in Arizona. I’d go hiking in the morning on my days off and when I got back I’d heat up a breakfast sandwich, grab my laptop bag, and we’d go out onto the porch for a little rest & relaxation as I wrote in my hiking journal about my experiences that morning. Ellie would eagerly watch me eat as I always gave her a little bit of cheese and egg and bacon/sausage at the end. Only a sliver as her kidneys couldn’t take too much protein but she always appreciated the gesture. After she died it became hard to continue the ritual, I forced myself out onto the porch at first but it took longer before I could eat a breakfast sandwich, even now it is a little difficult sometimes. Because she was deaf in her senior years I could sometimes sneak past her when I got home from the hike so I could wake her when my hands were free and I could help her up, for I knew as soon as I started heating the sandwich she’d wake as nothing got past that nose.
Also, as you can see from this picture and the previous one, though we got her these shoes to help her get up and move about the house, the pup was pretty good about getting out of them so you’d find them scattered about the house once she woke up.