I know I have a ton of catching up to do, but right now I want to talk about my first baby...my first furry baby. Eli, our loyal and goofy canine companion left us extremely suddenly on Tuesday night. Eli was 11. We don't know her exact birthday, but we got her when she was about 6 months old. I remember it clearly. I was waiting tables in Mattoon, senior year in college. Actually, I was done with classes and just about to start my internship. It was Labor Day. I pondered outloud whether or not the animal shelter was open because I wanted to get a dog. My manager said he had a dog. A six month old puppy. He had recently gotten married and the union created a Brady Bunch type situation and the dog just was a bit much. She was mostly house broken, and she was fixed. We arranged to meet up to check this puppy out and we were handed a leash, a bag of food, and a puppy named Ginny. I guess we were definitely getting a dog. And she was getting a new name.
There are so many Eli stories over the years. Like how when she was a puppy she was so long she resemebled the slinky dog from Toy Story. Our roommate had cats and the litter box was on the deck and there was a kitty door on the sliding door. Eli was skinny enough to fit through. Eli chewed a hole in our mattress, being careful to pull back the sheet and mattress pad before making herself a nest. She chewed a hole in the wall. One Christmas, after we had eaten and while we were opening presents, she stole the remaining crown pork roast off the dining room table. She came trotting through the kitchen with the roast in her mouth and two other dogs close on her heels. She didn't even know she did anything wrong. She was very long, so she could reach things you thought were out of reach. In our apartment in Charleston she would run from the front door, straight down the hallway to our bedroom, jump on the bed and run back, over and over and over again. It was hilarious. She was so excited when we very suddenly found our selves with another puppy a year later. She moved from Charleston to my parents house to our first apartment as a married couple to our house here with me. She took it in stride when she suddenly took back seat to the crying, squirming little person we brought home one day. She was a great protector of both girls and would sit there and let Lily pull up on her when she was learning to walk, and more recently she suffered the styling antics of Lily. Just the other day Lily put her ballet medal on Eli. It wasn't uncommon to find beaded necklaces and princess crowns on E.
In recent years, both E and Lucy have taken a backseat to the kids. I knew they were getting older, but compared to so many other people I know with dogs, they were just so healthy. I guess I just expected them to be around forever. On Tuesday evening, I noticed Eli panting heavily, but I didn't think anything of it because Lucy kind of was too and it was storming and both dogs would get a little worked up at thunder. Matt was out and I put the kids to be and didn't really notice anything more about Eli. She was in the other room from me so I don't even know if she was panting heavily still. When Matt got home about 9, E came in and was laying on the floor by us. She was still panting heavily. I went to bed a bit later to read and heard Matt talking to Eli. He called me out to the family room and Eli was laying on the floor, panting heavily, with her mouth open and a very strange look on her face. Matt said she had fallen off the couch and he helped to lay down. I got her a little water and noticed her gums were white. There is a 24 hour vet ER very close so Matt took her. About 20 minutes after he left he called and said they think she had a tumor that ruptured and she was bleeding internally. And we needed to make a decision. Quickly. They could do a surgery that might work and even then might only give her a couple months. But we needed to act now. We decided she was 11 and I didn't want to put her through a surgery that might not work, that would probably only give her a little more time, some of which would have been spent recovering from said surgery. I was quickly thinking of who I could call to come sit with the kids, but there wasn't even time for me to go say goodbye. Even though we made the decision together, poor Matt was the one that had to actually say the words...it was probably the hardest decision we have had to make. I know we made the right decision. But I am still sad. I wish I would have given her a bigger hug. I honestly thought she was having a seizure or stroke or something. I certainly didn't think she wouldn't be coming home. Five hours earlier she had eaten her dinner and been playing with us. It was so sudden!
We had to tell Lily when she woke up the next morning. She actually has taken it really well. Occasionally she will say she misses Eli and be a little sad, but she just says we don't have to worry about Eli anymore because she is in Heaven with our grandmas (Grandma Margie and Gigima) and Jesus and God. I am missing her more and more as I am noticing her absence more. This afternoon I was reluctant to vacuum. After 11 years of complaining about her relentless shedding, I was sad to vacuum up what was left. I think Lucy is having the hardest time. She keeps going outside, looking for E. For the first couple days she would jump up eagerly every time we came home and then look at us like when are you bringing my buddy back? I think she is starting to realize that her best buddy isn't coming back. They'd been together for ten years. It just breaks my heart. As Lily says, Lucy is sad because Eli was her best friend and sister.
Good bye Eli, my long dog with evil powers! You will be sadly missed!