Beautiful Ellie, my first and probably my only dog, walked over the Rainbow Bridge last month, still wagging her tail. People who met Ellie would often say that she was “one of the best dogs” they’d ever met. I have to agree. This black, Golden Doodle made friends everywhere she went. And she will be one of my best friends ever, till the day I join her. For those of you who have lost a pet friend, you know that this is one of life’s hard ones. For those of you who haven’t, you’re going to have to trust me. Losing Ellie has been like taking out my heart and getting it run over, repeatedly, by an 18-wheeler.But the lessons I learned from this beautiful dog, are the gifts that makes the pain of losing her worth every teardrop.
The First of the Lessons I Learned From My Dog Ellie: Everyone Has Value
When Ellie and I met she was three months old. I was going through a hard time personally. And this was on top of the fact that my oldest had just gone away to school for the first time. I was feeling pretty low. Then Ellie bounded into my life. And I quickly became her favorite person. She loved me, warts and all. She loved me no matter what other people felt about me or said about me. Ellie valued me because I showed her love and I met her needs for food and safety and fun. Because of her responses to me, I felt valued again. And I realized that I had value, all along. We all do. It just took a furry face to remind me.
The Second of the Lessons I Learned From My Dog Ellie: The Superficial is Just That
When I would come home from work, Bruce would have Ellie standing at the door, waiting for my arrival. He’d say that he really didn’t need to coax her. “She just seems to know,” he’d say, “that you’re on your way.” And Ellie did not care, whether I was tired or sweaty. My makeup or outfit wasn’t quite right, Ellie didn’t mind. All the superficial things that I worry about on the daily mattered not to this wonderful girl. She loved the me inside at the core of my being. Her response helped me to be less worried about these surface things. Like going to Lowe’s without a shower some days. Or a Saturday without makeup. Thanks Ellie.
Dogs Can Teach Us A Lot About Judging Someone’s Character
When I first started dating Bruce my friends asked me a very important question: What does Ellie think of him? This was a serious consideration for me. Ellie could always sniff out a person of good character or the opposite. She was my litmus test, when I wasn’t still the best at judging these things for myself. When she met Bruce, the response was immediate AND positive. I took this as a good sign.
Martin Luther King Jr., in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech said, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Dogs know this inherently. They judge people by how they respond to them and how they move and speak. If we paid better attention to these things ourselves, we may avoid some of the heartache and disappointment that comes with misjudging people’s character.
Another Lesson I Learned From My Dog: Keep “Wagging Your Tail” Because It Makes Life Sweeter
Audrey Hepburn said that “Happy girls are the prettiest.” If that is true, Ellie was a goddess. She was happy, wagging her tail, every day of her life. She wagged her tail the day she died. I learned a lot from this happy girl. Life can be a bucket of suck sometimes. You can’t just will yourself to be happy. What you can do, however, is revel in it when you are happy. Let the small, good things exude great joy. Wag your tail when you catch the green light. Wag your tail when the meal turns out well. And wag your tail every time you look into the eyes of someone, or something, that you love.
And Finally, What I Learned Is That, In The End, Love is All That Really Matters
Pets are a big commitment and they require a lot of work. Treat them well and they will love you forever. And they do not care how tall you are or how much you weigh. They don’t care about anything other than your heart. And they give you theirs in return. It would be so lovely if more people could act this way – loving with abandon. But in loving and being loved by Ellie I have come to know that, in the end it’s just the love that matters. Thank you, my good girl. Until we meet again.
Thanks for listening, dear friends. Marianne
If you need more to make you smile, please consider: A Love Letter to My Son on His Wedding Day and Stories of Real Retail Customers That Will Make You Smile.