This week, we said goodbye to our sweet Ellie. Ellie was our unexpected dog that we adopted just under 3 years ago. She was the dog Matt found to be a "reading dog" for our kiddos. She had been rescued by our vet from being put down when she could not breed anymore. So we welcomed our worn out old mama dog into our home and she fast became part of the personality of our family. We kind of winced every once in awhile when we realized how much we loved her and the fact that we also knew the majority of her years were already over when she joined us. We unfortunately were right in that we did not get as many years as we would have liked with her.
Ellie's liver was failing, a few months ago she started going through bouts of not eating(which for this mama dog was a very big warning sign-Ellie loved food!) Around that time took her in and got her treated for another chronic ear infection. Looking back, I think the antibiotics for the ear infection may have just prolonged her life a bit and given us a few more months with her, because she did begin eating again. But when she started not eating again this past week, I began watching much closer to everything else. Sure enough, she began drinking excessively and then would loose all of it. She was not even able to hold down water due to the extreme nausea she was experiencing. The final thing that brought us to the vet was how jaundiced she became. I couldn't even keep the tears from flowing when our vet looked in her mouth, it was that moment you know what the inevitable is and there is no more second guessing.
Before Matt and I took Ellie in to our vet, I talked individually with each of the kiddos the night before and expressed how important it was to say their goodbyes, for I knew, aside from a very big miracle, she would not be joining us on our trip home. I think the hardest thing was closing that door when Matt and I and Ellie left, leaving the kids...waiting...and wondering. One of those times I really wished I could be in two places at once. There with them to comfort, but there with Ellie to say my goodbyes.
Matt and I had a long drive to the vet, we chose to keep Ellie's rescuer as our vet, and therefore it meant traveling quite aways out of town. But we loved that-we loved the lack of "suburbanite money greedy" animal care. Care that felt honest, compassionate, and genuine. And here is a good example why. As much as we wanted to grab Ellie up and run back home and pretend she was fine, we knew it was time. Our vet asked if we would like to sit outside with her as she went to sleep-no sterile hospital type room, or tubes, or walls closing us in-something peaceful-something soothing. He walked us through everything and then we sat under a big tree, as the wind blew, where we were able to talk to her and pet her, and cry together. We were even able to laugh a bit as one of our vet's cats crawled all over us and rubbed against Ellie as she fell asleep. We are so not cat people, but in that moment she was a bit of a comic relief and balm for what was taking place. I was able to bury my face in Ellie's neck and just weep and not worry about time, or my surroundings, or the broken hearts of my kiddos that later I would need to tend to, I would be able to watch my strong husband weep over this silly dog too, and find him so sweet and be so thankful he had to get a "reading dog" for us even though I was mad at him when he called me while I was out running errands one day to ask "what do you think about getting a dog" when we had both agreed never to try a dog again after so many bad experiences we had had in the past. never say never, right. We were able to drive off, seeing her "sleeping" under the tree, so sweet, so peaceful in my mind.
So Ellie became the restorer of our faith in dogs, the restorer of faith that we can be good with a dog, she was our laughter and our comfort. To say she will be missed, is a grave understatement. We are now muddling through finding a new rhythm at home. Everything reminds us of her and those sighs, that all of us make right now, are becoming known as the "Ellie" sighs. So we stop and talk and cry if need be. Our eyes probably appear quite tired, but it will pass. We will move on slowly and let go of some of those reminders. Her bowls are washed and set out in the garage, her blankets are washing and will be folded soon and put away for maybe someday. I do not mind sweeping and vacuuming her hair as much, at some point I will see food in the garbage and not think it weird to still be there, when we sit down to eat it will at some point be normal not to see her waiting for food to be dropped, but it is going to be hard not hearing her paws overhead at night as I fall asleep, or see her waiting at the door to love on our visitors, it will be very hard to not see my dad and her playing and loving each others attention, I ache that Israel's new love for his "gog" was cut so short, I ache for the girls who adored her and dressed her up, used her a s a sled dog, and snuck her into their beds at night, I even ache for having to tell our neighbors, which I have not been ready yet to do, as they adored her too. I will struggle when Matt is gone, not having her to guard us. I will miss our campfires in which we had to always guard her tail for her as she would have lit it on fire if we didn't watch it for her. Or our walks in which we dragged her by the end, the poor old thing.
We are, for the first time, experiencing the deep ache of losing a pet so loved. We are s grateful for the time the Lord gave us with her. God is so good. His creation is so good. Ellie was a gift from Him, we know this.