Ellie the wonder pooch is getting older.

IMG_0152She doesn’t whine. She doesn’t groan. She doesn’t even grumble. But I know she’s hurting.

Where once, the minute I awoke she would eagerly look to see if I would let her out, give her a treat or simply greet her with a pet, she now lies quietly on her mat until I call her for breakfast.

Last night, rather than come sleep on her mat in the bedroom, she didn’t move from where she’d been lying all evening in the den.

She is getting older my Ellie the wonder pooch. She is getting older.

She was 9 weeks old when we brought her home. Alexis, Liseanne and their friend D. and I drove out to a small town south of the city to pick her up the day we were told she was ready to come home. It was a beautiful autumn day. Clear blue sky. Golden leaves falling. The mountains lining the western horizon like a dragon slumbering at the edge of the rolling foothills through which we drove to arrive at the ranch where Ellie had been born.

evening walks 008IMG_1159We’d already decided on her name. We needed to call her something ‘singerly’ as we’d picked her out the day Liseanne and I waited for Alexis at her very first workshop audition for The Young Canadians of the Calgary Stampede. TYC is a singing/dancing troupe of aspiring performers that she performed with for 5 years and getting a scholarship to the performing school and being invited to join the troupe was a real coup.

We need to celebrate said Liseanne as we left the hall where Alexis would spend the day rehearsing and handed me the newspaper where she’d circled several ads for Golden Retriever puppies.

“But I didn’t say we were getting a dog,” I said.

“But mom! Alexis and I agreed on a Golden Retriever without even fighting about it. Shouldn’t you be rewarding us?” Or something like that.

Ellie's new bed

Needless to say, even though I hadn’t planned on getting another dog (I wrote  a blog about the last dog I had — a crazy Jack Russell terrier I’d adopted and eventually had to find a new home for. She was keraaaazzy!) there we were, one month after picking her from the litter, driving south and west to bring home our new family addition.

She was small and cuddly, her tummy a round soft bowl of squiggly fur that she loved to have tickled and rubbed. She’s named after Ella Fitzgerald but at first, the girls called her Buddha Bellie and the derivative, Ellie, stuck.

Ellie has been my ballast, my friend, my comforter, my guide for almost 13 years. She went through those dark final years of that relationship from hell, quietly padding beside me, leaning into me when I would sit and cry in the dark, laying her head on my lap when I would lie on my bed and not want to move.

For years, her favourite place to sleep was on the bed but in the past year jumping up is not something she’s able to do. Where once, jumping into the back of the car was a joyous precursor that inevitably lead to hours of running and wandering through her favourite parks, she can no longer make the leap. I started helping her into the lower back seat and now, have resorted to neighbourhood walks to avoid making her climb into the car.

She is slowing down. Arthritis is taking over her limbs.

And sadness is weighing down on my heart.

Last night I told a friend how I am living in the future with Ellie, dreading when she is gone. I need to come back to the moment, now, I said, to be with her here. I know the inevitable looms but I cannot look out there and start missing her already. I need to keep myself here. To treasure and be with her now.

and it’s hard.

IMG_1323So very, very hard.

But, she deserves my presence now. She deserves my being joyful with her now. She deserves my best. Right now.

And then I remember. Ellie is a garbage hound. Maybe she ate something she shouldn’t! Maybe she’s got the flu. Maybe a trip to the vet’s is all she needs to perk up.

But, I don’t want to take her to the vet. I fear being told something I don’t want to hear.

As my daughter wrote in her blog this morning about a completely separate matter, Avoidance strengthens fear.

I know that.

I’m the one who originally said it to her.


Did she have to write that this morning?

Did she have to remind right now that I my fear is blocking my capacity to be brave, courageous and loving?

Because right now, the most loving thing for my Ellie is… to sit with her and be with her and take her to the doctor to see if maybe it’s just something other than age that’s bringing her down.



14 thoughts on “Ellie the wonder pooch is getting older.”

  1. Hey there,
    A month or so ago, we let our beloved border collie Lab cross Kenna lsip into the void after a terminal illness. She was with hu from 2001 until then and was the rock for us in walks at Fish Creek Park, excited greetings at the door and just BEING THERE, During a tough time for me last year and up until I got me new job, she was often the only fixed point in a troubled universe. We almost let her go in May but she rallied with meds and the vet just told us to spoil her and wait and see. She had a great time with her cousin Isosceles (a rambunctious Lab cross with something big like an elk!) which was teh summer of her contentment before the final times arrived. When the final time came we all knew and we went through the letting go process. She was my best friend sometimes when I didn’t allow other friends in my life too much. She could always be counted on rouse her arthritic body up and join me for a morning walk and then a stop at Timmy’s for one of her beloved Tim Bits.
    God bless all wonderful pets who give us their lives so willingly and with such joy.
    You will know when the time is right. You don’t want to let go but Ellie will let you know for sure and I bless you in your gratitude for her and your fear in not letting her go just yet. The doubts and the holding on are coming from a place of love and non-violence and love of life. More gifts to celebrate!!!
    It will be right when it happens. Just be grateful for the gift you have had and all will be well.
    Namaste and be in peace and give Ellie a nice big gentle hug from me. I gotta say I miss Kenna but I really know she is playing with all her friends in doggie heaven and that is good.
    PS for fans of Shaw TV, you may remember that Kenna was the dog who jumped up high and caught the frisbee in the original NOW TV and Shaw TV opening intro. Her original mom Deborah Smithies was the promotions producer at Shaw in those days and we inherited Kenna from DEborah and her family when they moved to Vancouver just after 9/11 2001. Great memories and the best damn frisbee dog in Calgary for sure!!!

    PPS Ellie will love to meet Kenna. Sorry they didn’t know each other on this side!


    1. Oh John thank you! Your words are so comforting and uplifting. And yes — more gifts to celebrate! She has been an amazing gift in all our lives and continues to be so.

      I’ll give her a gentle big hug from you.

      Hugs to you.


    1. Thank you Di — she perked up right after I finished writing! 🙂 I think some of my fear comes from my old retriever who I kept alive a year too long — not for her but for me. I don’t want to do that to Ellie. It’s just not fair.


  2. My ‘baby’ is almost 2, and while I’ve had many pets over the years that I’ve loved dearly, my current dog is the first pet I’ve had that has reached inside me and grabbed a firm hold of my heart.

    I understand your fear and your love

    xx Fi


  3. I am so sad for you Louise as I know how wonderful a faithful dog can be. I lost my Charlie, yellow lab,three years ago and there is seldom a day that goes by that I am not reminded of our wonderful times together. Walks, cuddles, hugs, licks and that look that only a dog can give you that says “I love you just as you are”. Treasure the time you have with her. This is your time to support her, give back and share your glowing light. Thinking about you.


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