Before I can introduce you properly to Ellie, I must first explain how she came to live with us.
In March of 2019, our 12 year-old beagle Sparrow (Katie Sparrow Jean Louise Davis, to be exact) was diagnosed with severe congestive heart failure. She had a heart murmur all her life and it progressed to the point of heart failure over time. It was so severe, our Vet was not sure she would live through the treatments that day. But she surprised us, in her imitable fashion, not only survived the day but lived another ten months. She was on multiple cardiac drugs which had to be administered throughout the day, and her activity was limited, but she continued on to be the sweet, loving, loud beagle we loved so dearly.
By January 2020, she had reached the dosage limits of her medications. To increase them further would begin to compromise her kidneys. Toward the end of January we knew the end was close. On the 23rd of January she stopped eating. Nothing could tempt her to open her mouth. She was weak and tired. In discussing euthanasia with our Veterinarian's staff, they gave us the number of a hospice vet. I didn't even know there were such things. But this Veterinarian in our area actually provides hospice and end of life care. We contacted her and arranged for her to come to the house on Monday, January 27th. It would be the most difficult gift we ever gave Sparrow and the best one we could give as well.
As the weekend progressed, I doubted if Sparrow would live until Monday. Each day, almost each hour she seemed weaker and weaker. At some times we had to carry her outside to do her "business". In fact, Sunday night, we slept on the floor of our spare bedroom with Sparrow. For quite a while, she had not be able to jump on our bed, where she had slept for years. Instead, she loved sleeping by the window in that room as it looked out onto the front yard and the neighborhood. Our sleeping pads and sleeping bags we use for hiking came in handy that night, although I got little sleep. Each movement she made caused my head to jerk up to check on her.
Early the next morning I took her outside, it was not yet sunrise. She always wanted to get in the flower bed that is covered by the eave of the house, and I never wanted her to do it. That morning I let her lay in that flower bed (and a marker remains in the spot where she rested.) I sat on the porch close to her, wrapped up in my warm sleeping bag, and together we watched the world wake up to sunrise. We stayed there a long time as I relished our last hours with the sweetest dog I had ever known.
She seemed to rally a little that day, and each time we took her outside, she would go into the bushes, which is not something she ever did. I knew what she was doing, she was looking for a place to die. It broke my heart to see that, but I felt comforted in knowing that we were going to make that transition as easy as possible for her.
I had made her a soft bed on the spot she loved to rest in the house and once we came inside, she settled on that spot in the little nest of pillows and blankets I had made for her. She never left it again.
Our daughters came over that afternoon and I had put some hymns on the speaker playing softly when the hospice vet arrived. She was everything I could have ever wished for. I tell people she was the perfect cross between a mortician and a doula. Everything she did was soft, quiet, gentle and loving. Even the "medical" things she did were done in a way to not appear medical to those who wouldn't recognize them.
We said our tearful goodbyes to a good and faithful friend and then shortly later, our sweet Sparrow took her last breath, released from the pain and weakness that had gripped her body. It was January 27th.
The four of us buried Sparrow in the corner of our back yard next to Grunt, our first beagle. There might have been a hole in our back yard for her grave, but there were even bigger holes in our hearts.
Sparrow was gone.
Not a day goes by that I don't think of her. The hospice vet took a paw print for us and it sits on the table by her favorite spot, along with her picture and collar. I sit in the chair by that table often and look at her picture and paw print and thank the Lord for such a wonderful friend.
After Sparrow's death, Glen and I weren't sure we would ever want to have another dog and we committed to praying for the Lord's wisdom in the matter. I began researching breeders because the breeder from whom we got Sparrow was no longer in business. I found one that I liked and began following her website. She had a dog named "Baby D" that was pregnant, due in March. By the time those puppies were born, we knew we did indeed want another beagle. Life was just too quiet without one.
Ellie was born March 26, 2020. I scoured the pictures of the litter looking for a puppy that looked like Sparrow. Sparrow's muzzle when she was young was tan on one side and white on the other. She had a wide white ring around her neck. One puppy in the litter looked like that. Because of my communications with the breeder, I was given the pick of the litter and I picked the one that looked like Sparrow. The breeder was so good at posting frequent pictures and videos of the puppies and in everyone Ellie would have her paw up in the air as if she were saying "hello" to us.
Now, if you are familiar with dog pregnancies, you might have already done the math, but Ellie was probably conceived within a day or two of Sparrow's death. When we figured that out, it was as if Sparrow had picked out her own predecessor. One thing I do know is true, Ellie was sent to heal our broken hearts.
"He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds."
Ellie is a perfect combination of Grunt's athleticism and Sparrow's sweetness. She has brought so much joy to our wounded hearts. She has not replaced Sparrow in any way, just as Sparrow did not replace Grunt. She is her own dog, but she has given us so much happiness, joy and love. And because of our love for Sparrow and Grunt, we seem to appreciate her even more.
Ellie is an example of our Lord bringing joy out of the midst of sorrow.
"...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
If we look to Him and trust Him by faith, we will redeem our tears and turn them into "joy unspeakable and full of glory." (I Peter 1:8.)
"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy."
|Ellie Jean Louise Davis