Whatever her lineage, I thought she was the best thing ever.
Until it came to house-training her. I thought she was brain-damaged. She just. Didn't. Get. It.
After five months of sopping up accidents from the carpet, I sort of gave up on her, and told Geoff that she was his dog. He was responsible for finally getting her brain to learn what "Go outside" meant.
I never thought I would love her the way you're supposed to love a dog. She wasn't a dog you could hug...she wasn't smart, I thought.
And like I said, I had given up on her. But she never gave up on me.
When I was heavily pregnant with Isabelle, I was finishing the nursery preparations. I had just steam-cleaned the carpets in her room and the hallway. Wearing Keds (the only shoe that would fit on my swollen feet), I started down the stairs. The combination of wet carpet and stupid shoes caused me to fall.
Somehow, in the 1.5 seconds it took me to stumble down 3 steps, Nelllie was there. She materialized out of nowhere and I threw my arms around her and stopped myself from pitching all the way down. As I came to a screeching halt, I sat down on that wet carpet, and gasping for breath, put my arms around Nellie and shook like a leaf. She sat there and let me hug her for the first time.
She had saved Isabelle. That was the day Nellie became my dog.
Nellie had a neurotic fear of tree swallows, afraid to go out in the backyard every year they nested here.
She was always gentle with Isabelle and Lorelei, even when they weren't.
She accepted a wide range of new animals into the house over the course of her life with us.
(Everyone remember Boomer?)
Her life was completely intertwined with mine. Never completely confident with her status in life, she looked to me when she was scared, or happy, or lonely. She was my shadow, always watching for where I was, what I was doing.
I never could get a really good photo of her and me, since she never wanted to look at the camera...not when I was around.
Nearly ten years is a long time to love a dog. And not nearly long enough.
We aren't completely sure what was wrong with Nellie at the end, but she showed symptoms of transitional cell carcinoma, cancerous cells in the lining of the bladder. No cure, just treatment of the symptoms.
And we tried. We worked the pills as long as we could.
But every day, she got thinner. She stopped enjoying her food and her toys. And the final thing, the moment I knew we were going to lose her...a look. Just a look that she gave me, telling me that it was time to let her go.
And since I loved her, I found the strength to say goodbye.
With the help of a dear friend, I listened to her last breath and felt her slip away. Away from the pain, and away from me.
A last kindness to a soul that deserved the peace we were able to give her at the end.
Nellie Bly Williams
November13, 2000 - September 22, 2010
We love you.