Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Today, she's 49...at least in dog years

Today, seven years ago, the world became a better place.
Nellie was born.
I must have been having a hormonal upheaval, (this was pre-kids) and I talked Geoff into getting a puppy. We had Wilson, our Shetland Sheepdog, but I wanted a puppy to love...and we thought Wilson could use a friend.
Nellie was once very small...
Baby Nellie
She weighed maybe 5 pounds when we adopted her. Now, during the winter months, her weight tops off at 70 pounds.
We were told that her mother was a German Shepherd. Uh huh. (We tease Nellie by singing, "You don't know who your Daddy is.....!")
Nellie was a bit weird looking at first. She was like a box of chocolates...we didn't know what we were going to get. Tiny body, big paws and a square block head. As she grew, her muzzle elongated, her body took on a "Lab" look and we saw that she must be a Shepherd/Rottweiler/Lab mix. There might be some alien DNA in there, too.

Baby Nellie 2
Her sweet expression hasn't changed. But the rest of her did.

I don't mind admitting it now, but I really couldn't stand her at first. After the new-puppy shine was gone, we were faced with a dog who wouldn't go potty outside. A dog who didn't like to be hugged. A dog who was more destructive than a Tasmanian Devil. It took us FIVE months to house-train her. We lost I don't know HOW many socks, books, shoes...
The icing on the cake:
During this time, I was busy building Isabelle, and when she was about 2 weeks old, we had new carpet installed. Less than a week later, I came home with Isabelle in her little carrier, opened the door and looked at a pile of I-Don't-Know-What in the foyer. The piles continued up the stairs, into the hallway, in the kitchen and ended in the dining room. Nellie had gotten into a trash can and had eaten who knows how many diapers. And then vomited them up.
I put Isabelle down on a clean spot of carpet and collapsed next to her. Then I looked down and saw two bare spots where carpet should have been. The carpet (Berber, and brand new, remember) was unraveled and just gone.
It took me quite a while to like Nellie. But now, I don't know what I would do without her.
A redeeming story:
I was pregnant with Lorelei, and getting near my due date. I had just steam-cleaned the nursery and upstairs hallway. I started down the stairs, but my shoes were wet and I lost my footing. As I fell, Nellie came out of nowhere and threw her body in front of me. I was able to grab her and keep myself from falling all the way down the stairs. I sat down on the steps and cried into her fur, and for the first and only time, she let me hug her. I forgave her for everything she ever did to our house. I can't even form the mental image of what would have happened to a 9 month pregnant woman falling down a full flight of stairs.

Tongue hanging out
She plays hard, but sleeps harder.

Nellie raspberry
She's fun and able to make all of us laugh.

Play with me
Even at the ripe age of seven, she is still as playful as she was when she was a pup. A bit stiff in the joints, but always ready to play.

After the visit
My throat closes up a little when I watch her rest after hard play. The muzzle is more gray, the legs don't run as fast, the sleep is deeper.

Yet the sweet, soulful love this dog gives us goes on...

Pooped puppy
Happy birthday, Nellie. You lovely pup.


Trixie said...

I love the ever present tongue, pink in nearly every shot.

Happy B-Day, Nellie.

Mary said...

Susan, thanks for giving me a tearful start to my day. Your story about Nellie reminds me so much of Chloe. Two dogs that grew on us. Sweet.

RuthieJ said...

Susan, that was a good story about Nellie. I think most of us who ever had a puppy can relate to those stressful puppy days. Thank goodness they grow out of it and you can't imagine not having them around.
P.S. the last picture was the sweetest!

dguzman said...

*sniffle* I told myself I wasn't gonna cry! *sniffl*

Amy said...

Thanks for making me misty-eyed, Susan. May you enjoy many more days with Nellie.

My Chinese Shar-pei, Charlotte, died at 7 from a genetic problem in the breed. That was at least 10 years ago. I still miss the bejesus outta that dog, and her pic -- the same pose as your last Nellie photo -- is on my office bulletin board.

NatureWoman said...

Awww, happy birthday Nellie!!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Happy Birthday Nellie!!! What a charming dog you have become. I am glad to have met you.

Kira, Tytus and Raven said...

Happy Birthday Nellie!

Dave said...

HB Nellie!

holly&grace said...

Happy Birthday!

KatDoc's dogs

Grace, Every Day said...

A beautiful tribute to your much-loved family member...catching up on your blog, too, and good to see all that's been going on in your world! Thanks for stopping by - you made me laugh loudly to start my day!