Sunday, September 29, 2019

Remembering Ella


Hello, friends. I apologize for being MIA since early July. About two weeks after my last post, on July 24, we had to say goodbye to Ella, our sweet senior beagle. It was a very difficult loss, and I've not been able to write about it until recently. 

Ella came into our lives in March 2013. We adopted her when she was 10 years old; she had just given birth to four puppies and her owner surrendered all five dogs to the county shelter. I have no idea what the owner's circumstances were, so I try not to judge – but I admit, it's hard not to. Ella was 10 years old and not spayed. She may have been used as a breeding dog. Then she gave birth to four mixed-breed puppies and was given up. It's unfathomable to me how someone can just get rid of a pet. In our house, our dogs become family members and we give them our full love and devotion. It makes me sad that not everyone feels this way.


I love his photo of Ella and two of her four pups. It was taken at the shelter shortly after they were surrendered. Fortunately, a selfless volunteer who already had dogs, cats and two boys to care for, took Ella and her puppies to her home to foster them. Shelters are not good places for tiny puppies; they can easily contract serious illnesses and die. You can read more about Ella's entry into our family here.

In late May of 2013, one of Ella's pups, Vivian, came to visit. Vivian was adopted by Ella's foster mom. The reunion, chronicled here, was very sweet. Ella definitely recognized her daughter. Vivian was 5 or 6 months old at the time, and you can see she was already as large as her mama.


Once Ella settled in, things were great. She and the other dogs got along wonderfully. There was a lot of snuggling, many walks and even a trip to the antiques mall. There were overnight stays in hotels and canoe rides on the lake.  



Ella had her share of surgeries in the six years she lived with us. The first was to have her spayed (a county adoption requirement) and while she was under anesthesia we had her teeth cleaned; eleven had to be pulled. Several mammary gland tumors were removed. Later, she had more growths and small tumors removed, including one on her snout, near her left eye, leaving a long scar. This growth eventually came back and was inoperable due to its location and size. After each surgery, despite her advanced age, Ella rebounded and was back to her lively self. 


Ella's eyesight diminished toward the end of her life. We prepared to have cataract surgery performed, but her retinas failed the test, which meant inevitable blindness that cataract removal wouldn't help. She also lost most of her hearing. These sensory losses brought about some changes in her personality. For at least the last year of her life, she had nightly episodes of barking and restlessness, like sundown syndrome common to people with dementia. However, her loss of vision and hearing did not slow her down physically. She ran wide open up the three steps to the side door of our house, which occasionally resulted in a tumble. But she'd get right back up again. She never got hurt, even when she took a bad spill down a flight of 20 hardwood stairs in a beach rental house. That was scary! But after a couple of minutes of being held and examined, all she wanted was dinner! We said over and over that Ella was tough as nails, and we meant it.

Ella was a true beagle and had a voracious appetite. Sometimes her appetite got her into trouble, like the time she ate a small hole in a bag of dog food. Fortunately we caught her, otherwise she might have eaten herself to death. Over the course of the evening, though, her belly started to bloat and she began whimpering, so off to the emergency clinic we went. X-rays showed a mass of food in her gut that only time and IV fluids would help (they couldn't induce vomiting). It required an overnight stay and resulted in an $800 bill. That beagle!


Ella lived to eat, snuggle, sleep and go on adventures – and probably in that order! Ella would curl up in the darnedest places, including my husband's open guitar case. She did this many times over the years, sometimes with her head hanging over the side of the case, making it look like she'd had a long night of hard partying.



Ella was a good sport. She let me dress her in sweaters, coats – even a Halloween costume. She didn't care much for the hat, though. Ella greeted the children who came to the house at Halloween and even the little ones who were scared of dogs warmed up to her. She was wonderful with children.


Ella loved to roll in the grass. It was a form of exercise for her. She'd squirm her way from one side of the yard to the other!


Ella was spunky and playful until the end, and she left an imprint on our hearts that will remain forever. While I'm grateful she lived to be 16, we only had her in our lives six years. Even so, it was a fun-filled six years, and I wouldn't hesitate to adopt a senior dog again. I encourage you to visit your local shelter and consider adopting an adult or senior dog. Please adopt, don't shop, for your next pet. The number of dogs and cats euthanized in shelters is staggering. Every single animal adopted out to a loving forever home helps lower that number. You can make a difference.

14 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry to read about the loss of Ella. Dogs just break our hearts in the end..don't they. But they are worth it. I adopted a 10 year old girl two years ago. She is going strong. She acts like a puppy. She lived most of her life in a backyard. She did not even know her name. I renamed her and she was fine with that. She learned her new name in a few minutes. All three of my current dogs are adopted. Ella was so lucky to have you as her family. I especially loved the bit about her seeing her child again and that she knew her. I've found that too...they remember each other very much so and have their favorites. When I brought Maisie into my home, Franklin and her hit it off immediately. They LOVE each other! I had adopted Franklin to keep Harvey company after the death of another of my dogs. But Harvey did not care about him. He missed the one that died. He never got over it. I never got over it either. Thanks for sharing Ella's story. She was beautiful.

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    1. Nita, thank you for your thoughtful comment. It's good to know there are many who understand the loss of a four-legged family member. I appreciate your kind words. Claudia

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  2. She looks like such a sweetie! Sorry for your loss.

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    1. Thank you! Ella was a sweetie, and a bit of an imp. She was funny and made us laugh a lot. She was small enough we could pick her up and hold her, though she wasn't lightweight at 25 pounds. We know that a small dog is in our future, one we can easily scoop up!
      Claudia

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  3. Oh Claudia...it is hard, so very hard to lose a dog. We have only had one and the end was SO awful that we cannot have another one. My husband suffered worse than I did. It was traumatic. She was "our second daughter" for sure. So, I totally know what you are going through. My thoughts and prayers are with you both.

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    1. Thank you, Libby. It is so hard to lose a dog. Paul and I don't have children so our dogs are like surrogate children to us. We take our parenting roles seriously! I appreciate your kind words.
      Claudia

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  4. Oh, I am so sorry. We don't have dogs ourselves but we have rescue Granddogs and they are so beloved that it will break our hearts when the day comes. I hope that your heart heals a little everyday as you navigate your grief. Hugs

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  5. I'm so sorry, Claudia. What a wonderful pet and family member Ella so obviously was.

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  6. I loved reading about Ella, what a tribute to her! Your love for her is obvious in your thoughtful words.

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  7. Thanks to everyone who posted sweet notes of sympathy. I also received lovely private emails from some readers. I want y'all to know how much I appreciate your thoughtfulness in taking time to write. I am grateful.
    Claudia

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    1. we lost our Coco this week , a Bichon Frise 12 years old little bit tired heart unfort. a lifetime memoires to remember a love full of joy.. They become our life companion. Ella was surely a precious friend to all of your family and many more who knows him. So lets say they become friend in the the heaven.. love, Ebru

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