Ellie in 2009, she came into the living room while I was playing with Scout to let me know she was available for hedgehogging, a minute later she was making music with her favorite toy, then a minute later was ready for a snooze. She’d sometimes have soft little snores, sometimes she’d make little whoops as her legs made running motions.
I needed new hiking shoes and when I saw that The North Face had a model named Hedgehogs, I took this as a sign from God. The problem with signs, though, is how to interpret them. Was this a sign that they would bring me as much happiness as Ellie’s hedgehogs bring her? Or a sign that she would chew my Hedgehogs as mercilessly as she chews hers?
Ever the optimist I gambled on the former and so far, so good. I’m still breaking them in, REI didn’t have them in my normal size of 9.5 but half a size larger seems to be working OK. I wore them outside for the first time today on our evening walk, I’ll probably give them more of a workout in the Gorge this weekend to see how they do on hills. Plus I need to ease my body back into hiking if I’m going to take a big hiking trip late this month as I usually do.
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to dogs who can hedgehog again.”
Luke 2:13-14, more or less
Where were you this morning? Did you see the heavens open? Did you hear the angels rejoice?
I know one dog who did.
Ellie had her final visit to the surgeon today and Dr. Munjar said the x-rays showed a nice boring joint, meaning she had healed nicely and we can start easing her back into her normal routine. Ellie and I celebrated with a few hedeghog throws in the backyard before I had to head in to work.
If you’re in the Portland area and need surgery for your pet, I highly recommend Dr. Munjar and the Veterinary Surgical Center of Portland. Dr. Munjar has a great (doggy) bedside manner and explained everything very clearly and did great work. He provided detailed instructions for her post-op recovery and everything proceeded just like he said. From the moment we met him we felt we had made the right decision. The staff is friendly and knowledgable and took good care of us.
If I ever need surgery I can only hope to be in such good hands!
One nice thing about how well Ellie is healing is that she can now join me in the backyard like before, minus the running and jumping. That even means the return of baby hedgehog to outside time as long as she doesn’t get too rambunctious. She had tossed it to me here, wanting to play like in days of old, but we’re not ready for that yet. I’ve adapted baby hedgehog play since she first got her surgery, matching it to her allowed activity level. We started off with a game where she didn’t need to move anything but her head, to now where she can be more mobile but doesn’t need to run and jump.
We have all heard of child prodigies, young masters of piano, flute, or violin. Our five-year old prodigy is master of baby hedgehog, able to squeak out pieces of surprising length and complexity. In this case, with Christmas approaching, Ellie squeaks out a fine rendition of Joy to the World.
Unlike many five-year olds, however, ours doesn’t need any encouragement to practice. Several times this week when I’ve gotten home from work I’ve been pelted with baby hedgehog before I can even take off my coat.
“I’ll just lay over here quietly until you finish. Take your time. I’m not bored at all. No please, don’t worry about me, I’m fine. Play with Scout, she deserves your time too.”
“It’s a good thing baby hedgehog loves me …”
You might have noticed that this pose is an Ellie specialty. She carries the little hedgehogs all over the house to make sure she doesn’t miss a moment’s opportunity for hedgehoggery.
Along with the glory of being a world-class receiver comes the responsibility to give back to your community, especially your young fans. Over the past nine months Ellie has picked up two young admirers. One morning when I woke up with Sam and Ellie beside me, Sam got up and started rubbing his head all over Ellie’s. Ellie looked at me with an expression that seemed to say “See how good I’m being? See how I’m not eating him?” and then proceeded to lick him about the face, which Sam tolerated in good humor.
But it is Emma who is most fascinated with the dog, whenever Ellie and I play hedgehog Emma comes tearing down from wherever she is in the house and tucks in close beside me. As I pet Emma and toss the hedgehog to Ellie, when Ellie takes a break and sits down Emma will saunter up to her and sniff her face, especially her ears. She also gets licked in the face for her troubles and tolerates it as graciously as Sam.
Ellie can’t be long distracted from hedgehog; a couple of times she even dropped the hedgehog in front of Emma and bent down as if she expected Emma to toss it across the room. But Ellie soon learned that, no matter how strong her affections, there are certain things Emma just can’t do.
On fall weekends throughout the years, we’ve heard the names of many great passer and receiver combinations. Bradshaw to Swann. Montana to Rice. Aikman to Irvin. Manning to Harrison (and now Manning to Wayne). But this fall, a new pair arrived on the scene that some think could be the greatest to ever play the game.
Cameron drops back … rolls to his right … finds Ellie all alone downfield! No one will touch her! No one will catch her! Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdooooooooown!
The greatest pair of all time? I’ll let the pundits decide. My detractors will point out — fairly I think — that unlike Peyton Manning, I haven’t had to face the complex blitzing schemes of the modern NFL. I can’t argue the point. On the other hand, Peyton has never had to deal with Reggie Wayne drooling all over the ball.
We all have obstacles to overcome.
After a week of house rest Ellie is doing much better. She’s finished her meds, the plastic cone has come off, and she resumed her walks a couple of days ago. The vet wants us to hold off a bit on allowing her to run or play rough, which means hedgehog time has been curtailed except for times like these when she lays on her back and waits for me to wrestle it from her mouth (these pictures are from before she hurt her leg).
Ellie is very anxious to be active again. While I was watching football the other day and working on my laptop, somehow baby hedgehog kept landing on my keyboard. I’d look over at Ellie and she had a look that said “I don’t know how that got that there, but since it is, let’s play!”. I’d get her to lay down with it, but a short while later hedgehog was back on my keyboard. The battle went on and on until I eventually put hedgehog in the closet.
Soon, Ellie, soon.