Traditionally an Ode is a lyrical poem. That’s not what this is. So why call it an Ode? Because it’s a meaningful piece of writing dedicated to the love I have for my Ellie dog who now resides in the Great Kennel in the Sky.
I was never a dog lover.
Phil had always been.
A chance moment meant we NEARLY took in his dog from a previous relationship.
I might have been a step-mum to a German Wired Haired Pointer.
Things didn’t work out, but I had prepped myself for welcoming a dog. And so my heart was open to receive.
We discussed it and decided to adopt.
A bit of research turned up a Weimaraner, seven years old, in Bath Cats & Dogs home.
She’d been there a while. Mainly because she was aggressive towards other dogs.
We didn’t have other dogs. So, it was kismet.
We visited twice, filled out the forms, prepped out home by gating the back yard, and once we passed the checks, she came home to us.
She was nervous at first but she was the most beautiful dog you had ever seen.
Sleek, grey-brown, hair like velvet.
And her temperament was brilliant.
She listened, sat and followed commands.
When we took her for walks, we had to muzzle her because it was true, she was aggressive towards other dogs.
We saw that it was because she was nervous of them, and so she defended herself before anything could happen.
She loved to sit in her chair or on her blanket.
When she sat down she would walk round and round in circles trying to find the perfect spot.
Down she’d go with a hump, but then she’d want to readjust, so up she got and round and round again she went.
It was comical.
When we ate, she would sit at the edge of the table. Waiting. Attentive. Not begging, just waiting.
Sometimes we’d rough-house with her and she loved it.
We’d tumble around the floor or in the garden. Her face snuffling up against ours. Her wet nose lightly touching our cheeks.
When I became pregnant. She knew. She’d look at my belly and snuffle her face to it.
We were nervous about how she’d respond to a baby, but she was amazing.
We were very strict about how we let her interact but she took to Violet so well.
She would pace and worry if ever Violet cried. And she sat calmly as Violet petted her, or tried to grab her wagging tail stump.
Ellie kept me fit and sane in those early days of motherhood. I walked her twice a day, even after giving birth, and getting outside was so good. So good for Violet too.
This was the beginning of my love of baby wearing – carrying a baby in a woven wrap tied closely to your chest or on your back.
It was the only way I could walk Ellie and have Violet with me.
One day when I was walking her, she got into a fight with an Alsatian. She didn’t hurt the dog because of her muzzle, but the Alsatian bit her.
It didn’t seem too bad but we took her for stitches.
The next day she couldn’t get up and she had a fever.
We had to take her to the vets where she stayed for several days.
They weren’t sure what was wrong, but most likely an infection, possibly in her liver.
She was weak for a few days, but bounced back good and proper.
Over the next few months she seemed okay, but every now and again her back legs went from under her.
We thought it was because of our wood floors, and her running too quick.
We didn’t think much of it.
I then had Martha.
She took to Martha the same as Violet. Curious but respectful.
When Martha was six weeks old, one morning Ellie couldn’t get up. Her back legs had gone.
She was dragging herself around. It was torture to watch her struggle.
The vet said there was a chance she might respond to an operation but it would mean six months of not walking and constant bed rest AND it was a very slim chance it would work.
We weighed the options.
She was eleven now. Quite old for a Weimaraner. We didn’t want to put her through six months of torment, with only a slight chance it would work.
So we made the tough decision.
I think this is the only time I have seen Phil break down in tears.
We both wept.
We hugged her hard.
We said our goodbyes.
We decided we wanted to spread her ashes at Westonbirt Arboretum. One of her favourite walking places.
So, as a family we went there and scattered her ashes round Maple Loop.
We still go to Westonbirt, but not often near Maple Loop as that is where dog walkers go.
We don’t walk a dog there any more.
Ellie was our first and last dog.
We had her immortalised by having her portrait painted by the very talented Emma Jolly.
She hangs in our bedroom. Looking at us with those deep, soulful eyes.
We will always remember her.
The best dog ever.