Story number three: the long goodbye continues

If you haven’t noticed, we have a way of attracting and bringing back a shine to the old stuff, the beautifully broken, the castoffs and discards — so it should come as no surprise that when the Junior Shopkeeper and I cast a wish to add four more footprints to our little family last year, it was Nellie who answered the call:

(Incidentally, Nellie’s arrival also put an end to the Junior Shopkeeper’s requests for a new sister…for about 6 weeks):


Nellie and her four oversized footprints have been reminding us of the fragility of life – and the nature of transition – since a November appointment revealed both an enlarged aorta and a mass on her heart (oh, and a more accurate estimate of her age — not 6ish, but closer to 12ish). At the time, we were given a grim diagnosis and encouraged to think about how we might choose to proceed (armed with the knowledge that ‘she could bleed out at any time’); we chose Nellie.


Some of you have been following our updates from early on. Others joined Nellie’s circle of influence just a few weeks ago as we put out the amber alert for a missing dog. Said dog, who had been left in the yard for an hour while errands were run, had disappeared from our gated, fenced-in parcel. Someone must have taken her, we said under our breath — it wasn’t like her to run (and heaven knows she wouldn’t get very far- or fast). We were relieved and grateful for her return the following morning, and life moved on.


However, as with so many things, life also moves in circles (and our girl continues to share new tricks with us, despite her limitations): those of you with experience in such things are aware that elderly dogs often leave their homes and their people as they anticipate the end of life.

We’ve come to the belief that Nellie is preparing us for a more permanent absence: in the last three weeks, our does-nothing-but-sleep-in-the-yard girl (yes, some of you have wondered if she’s even alive when she hangs out at the shop) has disappeared no fewer than 6 times. Complacency (based on nearly a year’s experience with her previous modus operandi) has been to blame in two of those instances – but the others? Gates and gaps meticulously managed, she’s wriggled her way out – through where, we’re not entirely certain – so as to wander and explore life in the two block radius from our Longfellow home (right along with Sheldon the turkey).

Efforts to avoid losing her have led to other challenges. In addition to the bummer-dude energy of an obviously unhappy pup, we’ve observed that trying to keep her indoors wreaks havoc on an otherwise relaxed – and successful – potty schedule, and we’ve learned that the Jr. Shopkeeper doesn’t particularly enjoy waking up in a pool of dog pee (count us grateful for an arsenal of extra bedding and a 3″ foam topper that, having literally gone to the dog[s], spared the mattress proper). Carrying a 45 lb bundle of fur up the stairs repeatedly (she can’t consistently make it on her own) isn’t ideal, either.


Under the circumstances, we’ve reached the conclusion that, failing another change of heart (figurative or literal) on her part, this may continue to happen for a while. We’ve ordered a Tile tracker for her collar, and we’re choosing to trust that our neighbors will call the digits on her tag when Nellie shows up to say ‘hey.’

Thanks to all of you who have joined us for this journey… initial fears of being financially responsible for an elderly dog (while being careful about Junket + household cash flow) — and about adequately tending to the needs of said geriatric pooch –  have been replaced by the ease and joy of our time with this special sweetheart.

Thanks for letting us share her – and this experience – with you. We’ll continue to keep you posted.

Peace and pup treats to all,

Julie, Meridel, & Nellie

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