Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher

A Dog’s Guide to Life.


Ellie's Garden

Ellie’s Garden

I have been grieving. I have been wallowing. I have been creating.

I have run the gamut of tears to laughter, sadness to joy, and still that which I must accept remains present.

There is an emptiness to my home. A quietness in the garden. I stillness in my heart.

And still, I must accept.

I have been fascinated by this journey. Choosing not just to go through it, but rather, to observe myself going through it has brought me up against things I do not want to touch, or see, or feel.

The Guardian Louise Gallagher 2014 Acrylic 24 x 24

The Guardian
Louise Gallagher 2014
24 x 24

And still, I must accept.

They are there. And I am okay. Regardless of the presence of sadness or joy, tears or laughter, I am okay.

I removed her bed from our bedroom. I removed her bed from the den and my office. Her toys remain scattered throughout the house. Her water dish remains full. Marley the Great Cat likes to drink from it too.

And I have heard stories. Of other people’s mourning of their beloved pets. Stories that brought tears to my eyes and made my heart ache. Stories that strengthened our human connection.

And I have written. And painted. And gardened. And created.

It took but a moment for her to wriggle her way into our hearts. It will take eternity to erase her footprints.

And here are some of the things I’ve learned.

A Dog’s Guide to Life.


A Dog’s Guide to Life by Ellie the Wonder Pooch

  1. Get outside. Get into nature. Go for a walk. Garden. Run. Play in the snow. The river. The mud. And don’t forget to take me with you. I like being outdoors. There’s so much out there to explore and it’s so just good doginess to share it!
  2. Smell the roses. Smell the air. Heck, smell my fur, even when it’s wet. Bury your face in the sweet, juicy aromas of life. Sure, it can be messy and prickly. But it’s always beautiful and fruitful and full of sweet smells and reminders of how wonderful it is to be alive.
  3. Pet me. Rub my belly. Fuss over me. I’m a dog. That’s what I need and it’s what you need too! Love all over me and know, no matter what, love really is the answer. Try it with the people in your life too. It really works. Why do you think I do it with you?
  4. Sit. Sprawl. Laze about. Let yourself sink into nothing but the pure joy of doing nothing. Block doorways. Lay in the middle of the room. Take up all the space you need to get comfortable. It’s your life. Your space. Fill it and do it often. Life looks better when you’re stretched out filling the whole canvas of your life.
  5. Chase butterflies. Dragonflies, even bumblebees. You don’t have to catch them. The joy is in the running about, chasing after nature and feeling the wind against your skin, or fur if you’re me.
  6. Dance in the rain. Run barefoot in the grass. Don’t be shy. Don’t tell yourself you’re too old or too proper or too whatever. You’re never too anything to act silly and free. Kick your shoes off and feel the earth — I’ve never understood why people, and horses for that matter, wear shoes. They’re so distracting.
  7. Talk to yourself – which is like… talking to me. Tell yourself all your sorrows, your secrets, your fears, your dreams. It’s okay. No one else can hear you except me and I will always listen and never judge and never tell another soul. Your secrets are mine to keep.
  8. Greet everyone you meet, even strangers and that girl with the tattoos and piercings and dog collar around her neck, with a big happy smile. I also don’t understand why people wear dog collars. They’re for dogs, people, because we’re special. But I digress. Greet people like you’re really, really happy to see them. Try some wiggles and squirms, lick them even! Or, as you humans like to do, give them a peck on the cheek, but really, really mean it! Be happy to see them. Let your happy shine, where ever you go! Heaven knows, the world needs more wriggles and squirms and happy greetings. And by the way, so do you.
  9. Always, always, clean your plate. Yup. I know. Your parents told you this. Difference is, what you don’t eat, you can give to me, I’m not picky and will eat anything you don’t, and then some! (and that’s how you clean your plate btw while also savouring every morsel of life) Oh. And no artichokes please. I don’t like the prickles. Which brings me to my final point;
  10. Only consume, buy, eat, do, speak, think, create, the things that create more joy, laughter, love and caring in your life. Be picky! Don’t settle for something just because it’s there. Make your own choices. Make your own path. Make your own waves. Remember, I chose you and you’re the bestest friend a dog could ever have, even though you’re not a dog. And you truly are great, especially when you remember to follow your heart, oh, and let me be your guide.



Author: Louise Gallagher

I believe in wonder. I believe we are all magnificent beings of divine beauty. I believe we can make a difference in this world, through every act, word, thought. I believe we create ripples with everything we do and say and want to inspire everyone to use their ripple to create a better world for everyone. I'm grateful you're here.

37 thoughts on “A Dog’s Guide to Life.

  1. Thank you, dear Louise, for creating so much beauty and joy out of sadness. Much love, Ann.


  2. welcome back! …. great piece, great peace, and soon the empty won’t seem quite as hard to bear



    p.s. … somewhere, out there, a puppy wants to meet you


  3. These are great ‘Ellie’ lessons and I love, love, love that guardian painting Louise!
    Diana xo


  4. Absolutely wonderful and heartwarming Louise. I read every word of Ellie’s guide to life with a huge grin on my face!!
    The painting of the Guardian is so beautiful and incredibly touching.
    Having a garden is such a lovely idea too. I just remembered I bought a rabbit sculpture when my Henry died. He loved his bunny rabbits …. 🙂
    My soul mate dog Harry sits in the passenger seat next to me most days… and I don’t need to worry about the heat!
    Their presence is always with us.
    May you come to see the beauty of this loving journey of letting go. Beyond the loss is always love.
    Val xo


    • That’s why I put a little fountain in Ellie’s Garden Val — one of the buddha’s hands is cupped and water runs out of it into the bowl. And the catnip is for Marley the Great Cat to sit and be near her friend.

      And as I read your words ‘Beyond the loss is always love.’ it struck me that — within the loss is Love. Thank you — I am embracing that truth and breathing deeply within it!


  5. I love this list! I think that my little rescue dog, Bailey would agree with every point. His full name is George Bailey, because we found him at Christmas, and once we adopted him………we all agreed, “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Thank you for sharing about your journey today.


  6. Wonderful, deeply felt piece, Louise. And those lessons. . . how beautifully Ellie teaches us.

    Hugs and love.


  7. How beautiful, Louise. I’m crying now. All of her points are so very true. Thank you!!!


  8. Louise thanks for writing this – so heartfelt and rings so true. I am thinking of you. My little heart sends you blessings and many hugs and kisses. Dianne


    • And my heart thanks yours for the blessings and many hugs and kisses Dianne. I was in a meeting with a woman who you worked with. She was one of your clients — and speaks very highly of you! But then, you live from a high vibration so it only makes sense that is what people see and know and feel. Hugs


  9. Thank you for bravely sharing Ellie’s wisdom with us. A fine tribute to a fine canine. I have no doubt that Ellie will remain at your side as you walk along your healing path. And she’ll know when you are ready to carry on the journey on your own. I don’t recall who I first heard this from, but this sentiment resonates with me -” Rescue Dogs Rescue Us”. Regards – Gail


    • Oh Gail, I love that sentiment! Thank you for sharing it with me. Ellie was 9 weeks old when she squirmed her way into our hearts and took up permanent residence. I’m so grateful for the wisdom, and the love, she shared so generously. Love to you Gail.


  10. Love it! Getting ready to go chase a few butterflies right now! ❤️


  11. After reading this post…I’m immediately 15 years old again and my best friend, a lab, Lance, has just transitioned. It was my first experience with heartache. I’ve never read, “A Dog’s Guide…” before, I only wish I had this then. Beautiful post, as always, Louise.


    • Hi CeCe. When my daughters were born I had an old RetrieverX named Maxie. She was 10. When she passed away five years later, my daughters drew pictures for her to put with her in her grave. We wrapped her in one of her favourite blankets and sat with her in a pasture as we all said good-bye. I wanted to teach the girls that dying is part of living, and while the body leaves us, the spirit is always present. I think Ellie’s Guide to Life is part Maxie’s wisdom passed along through the years. 🙂 Hugs.


  12. Beautiful lessons so truly from Ellie! And good for you for letting go of the conventional and the guarded and letting yourself experience all the emotions. M and I went to nose hill over the weekend and Ellie’s energy was definitely in some of her favourite spots. Take care 🙂


  13. That painting of yours–“The Guardian”–is fantastic. Wow!


    • Thank you Megan — I started with trying to paint Ellie, and couldn’t. So the silhouette became the conduit for painting into my gratitude and love for my wonder pooch. Blessings to you my friend.


  14. Please accept my heartfelt hugs of healing Louise. Our dear 17 year old Kitty passed last year and I had learned a lifetime of lessons from her as well. Perhaps Ellie the pup and Chessie Kitty have already met up there since we are connected. Allow yourself the time you need…and know how much you are cared for and thought about now. xoxo


  15. Everyone who comes into our life, makes a difference. Great post Louise.



  16. “Talk to yourself – which is like… talking to me.” Priceless ❤


  17. Oh I do love Ellie’s guide to life, we all need to do more of these things ourselves. Hugs and heartfelt feelings on the loss of a dear family member. I was saddened when I popped back in here to hear about Ellie and I can only imagine how hard this has been for you and your family. xxx


  18. Pingback: A Dog’s Guide to Life. (for Ellie) | Dare boldly

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