Tuesday, January 26, 2016

"Lots of Life to Live and Love to Give"

The headline quotes myself in a Facebook post about our rescued dawg Ellie (formerly "Ellen"). Ellie Mae I sometimes call her, probably thinking about the blonde bombshell in "The Beverly Hillbillies," critter-loving Elly May Clampett. The actress who played that role with such vim and vigor, Louisiana-born Donna Douglas, died on New Year's Day at age 82.

Many who wander upon this may think it cheesy to write a blogpost about your dog, when you could be bemoaning the state of the nation and world. And maybe it is. But hey no one has to read it. (Go ahead, enjoy some 2016 Presidential politics instead -- good luck with that!) Personally, I find that dogs are angelic souls who help preserve what remains of my mental and physical self. Maybe some of you feel that way, too.

Ellie Mae, Superdawg II
Ellie Mae, a 7-year-old "retriever mix," likes to go for a good walk (a mile or two) first thing out of bed, about 7:30 or 8 a.m. That's almost like basic training, just a few hours later than a drill sergeant rolling you out of the sack. I have convinced Ellie girl to settle for a quick break in the backyard and then a delay of about a half-hour while I get a little protein in me (as a diabetic must do lest the blood sugar crash) and of course have that cup of coffee without which I simply cannot operate.

In addition, the master of the walk (that's me, I guess) must gather all the essentials: clothing in layers if it is cold (or shorts and T otherwise), leash, harness, waste disposal bags, bottled water, and sunglasses. By the time all the old-guy necessities are taken care of, Miss Ellie is fidgety. But she gets really excited if we then load into the car and drive to a prime walking spot. She loves to ride in a car more than any dog I've ever had. Her original owner (who passed away unexpectedly, resulting in Ellie's going to a shelter) must have taken her on some great trips.

In just two short weeks we already have had memorable walks, running the gamut from beach day to snow day.

In our first trip to the beach, she started getting very excited when we were still driving with Ocean Boulevard not yet in sight. She must have had her share of beach visits. She greeted some other dogs on leashes, did some sniffing, walked a while and left happily. As the weather warms just a little, we will do more of that.

The snow day came as the wintry nor'easter was winding up off the coast, later to sock states farther north with 20 to 40 inches of snow. We had just a dusting, but it came while we were out on a morning walk. The snow was fun but the wind was howling and the temp was below 20. Dumb me wore no cap or mask, and no gloves. The thought seriously crossed my mind that I might not make it back to the car. So henceforth I will have to add to the list of cold-weather preparation: stocking cap, gloves, and maybe an emergency flask for Ellie to carry.

Critter-loving Elly May Clampett (CBS)
This dawg is part retriever, but part something else, too. Maybe a bird dawg or coon hound. She has keen hunting instincts. When we go out for a final break late at night, she immediately senses the birds (doves, I think) roosting in our cedars and tries to rouse them if I let her. And when we walk by wooded areas, she goes ballistic over squirrels. She bays and bays like, well, a coon hound or bird dawg.

One morning she nosed under a fence and pulled something out -- and it was a squirrel! In her mouth! No, it was not a live one, nor had it died from her fangs. Cause unknown; call NCIS. But she must have gotten a rush from having one of the creatures in her jaws. To me it was a big yuck.

Tomorrow morning I will take her on her early morning walk, and then we will go on to the vet's office, where she will have a small mass in her hind parts removed and sent for biopsy. The vet found it during her first exam, which she otherwise passed with flying colors. We could have watched for further growth for a while, but if it were cancerous it could spread. I didn't want to take a chance.

Yes, indeed, sweet Ellie Mae has a lot of life to live and love to give -- the good Lord willing.

                                                © Robert G. Holland  2016

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