June 21st, 2004 – April 11th, 2008

All of My Beautiful Dogs Are Dying
– Vicki Hearne

. . . Without the beautiful dogs
No one dares to attend to desire;

The sky retreats, will intend nothing,
It is a ceiling to rebuke the gaze,
Mock the poetry of knowledge.

My death is my last acquiescence;
Theirs is the sky’s renunciation,
Proof that the world is a scattered shame

Littering the heavens. The new dogs
Start to arise, but the sky must go
Deeply dark before the stars appear.

Ellie was a special dog from the very beginning. An illness during the final stage of Sailor’s pregnancy left Ellie somewhat addled at birth. She was small, and had a hard time thriving. Barb hung in there, though, and Ellie made it through well enough for us to go and pick her up. Sean was ambivalent – he’d never had a dog of his own before, and Tessa was the first one he’d ever lived with. He was a cat person, and wasn’t sure what to make of the indifferent little brindle mite who refused to even come over and sniff his hand.

During the seven hour drive home, Ellie huddled in the back of her crate glaring at us, and Sean asked me mildly “Is she ever going to come near us?”. I explained that some dogs need more patience than others, and shortly after we arrived home, he made it his goal to get Ellie to love him.

Unlike other French Bulldogs, Ellie was indifferent towards affection. She loved Tessa, staying close to her and sleeping curled into her side. People were a different story. She barely tolerated Sean and me, and would skitter away from us if we tried to pet her. We felt like negligent pet owners, and laughed it off when she ran wide circles around anyone who approached her at the dog park. “She’s just not that in to people” we’d explain. Ellie had a fine sense of dignity, and never once willingly let a stranger pat her on the head. She insisted on her own personal space, and we learned to let her sit her own limits on interaction.

Eventually, Ellie learned to love us, by which time we, of course, were head over heels about her. She’d sidle up to you and butt your hand with her head, which meant “Scratch my ears”. She’d perch on your lap, tentatively, never settling down enough to really get comfortable. Still, she loved us, in her own way.

We knew she wasn’t going to be with us for forever. We even knew she wasn’t going to be with us for long. What we didn’t realize is that even the knowing of that doesn’t prepare you for the loss you feel when they go. Logic can tell you that time is short, but our hearts don’t rely on logic, and there just wasn’t enough time with Ellie.

There’s never enough time.