Thursday, October 07, 2010

A last kindness

Nellie came into our lives in February 2001.  A two month old mix of big head, big feet and sweet puppy charm.  Her mother had been a German Shepherd, and it looks like her father was a Lab and/or Rottweiler.
Whatever her lineage, I thought she was the best thing ever.

Baby Nellie

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.
Tongue hanging out


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.
Nellie kisses Lorelei

She accepted a wide range of new animals into the house over the course of her life with us.

Nellie Boomer 1
(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.

4434_1089740996129_1004583642_30218647_5015579_n


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.

Pooped puppy

Nellie Bly Williams
November13, 2000 - September 22, 2010
We love you.

23 comments:

RuthieJ said...

Aw Susan, I'm really bawling now! Knowing when it's time to let them go is the hardest thing, isn't it? I've had to make that decision twice with the dogs that eventually became "mine" too. I'm so glad you had 10 good years with your sweet Nellie. This was a beautiful post.
Hugs from your dog lovin' friend in Minnesota.

Mary said...

Having a hard time seeing what I'm typing. Nellie Bly was your angel, Susan. And you know, she's still with you.

Love ya,
Mare

KGMom said...

Having gone through just a few short months ago,I know exactly whereof you speak. And I can most assuredly identify.
(Yes, I do remember Boomer.)
These furry friends certainly do wrap themselves around our hearts. And it is SO hard when it is time for them to go--they know, and they let us know, but it is still hard.

dAwN said...

So sorry Susan..I feel for you.

I am teary when I read this and It brings me close to the feelings I had two years ago when I had to say goodbye to my furboy. I wanted to let him go naturally, but then, couldn't bear to see him suffer.

I then made the decision to hold him and send him on his way...
Never easy..
Take care..
I can see you loved her grandly..what a lucky pup!

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Oh, Susan, it's such a heart-breaking gift to give our fur-friends. You did good.
{{{hugs}}}

kayceebeebee said...

So very sorry to hear about Nellie. I also went thru the heartache of letting go of my lab when she was 10 years old too. I held her just like you did. It was very hard but looking back, I am so very glad I did. Hugs to you.

Dave said...

So very sorry to hear this. We all can relate to your situation, but that doesn't make your pain go away. Big hugs from Alaska my blogging friend.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Such a beautiful story of Nellie.
You're so right--letting go is the gift we give our pets in the end.

Cindie U. said...

That's a sweet memorial to your furry friend.

Susan said...

Such a tough call to make - but it's the right call. We had to do it a few weeks ago as well -

Nanci F. said...

So beautifully written Susan. Nellie was a lucky girl to have found you. We held our Ripley in our arms as we let her go back in July and it still hurts. We miss her terribly. They bring us so much joy without even trying. You are an angel...*hug*

Kelly said...

I'm so sorry........dogs are angels. I didn't even know her, but I'm here sniffing and wiping away tear. Her eyes in the photo are so kind.

divakitty said...

Sending hugs

Wren said...

Susan, I'm so sorry. Even when you know it's the right and loving choice, it's still incredibly hard. I know you'll miss Nellie, even as she lives in your memories

Tricia said...

Dearest Susan, this is a beautifully written memorial to your sweet girl, Nellie. Dogs are such loving souls, the saddest thing about them is that they just don't stay with us long enough.

NCmountainwoman said...

Wonderful tribute to dear Nellie. You are so right...there are never enough years to love a dog.

Thoughts are with you and the family. It takes so much courage to say goodbye. And to give Nellie the peace she deserved.

Beth said...

Wonderful post, Susan - I'm wiping away tears. Nellie was lucky to have you as her human. I know you gave her as many gifts as she gave you. Hugs to you and the girls.

Beth

dguzman said...

NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How did I not see this post until now? I've been working too much.

Joy said...

so very hard. May peace fill your soul and give you relief. It's the most difficult thing to do, but thank the gods and the goddesses that we can do it for them. My heart goes out!

MevetS said...

Wow. Hugs.

Very nicely written.

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