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Carla Kelly rescued Miss Ellie, who in return inspired her human to help other dogs in need.
Dogs are such inspirational creatures. They give us so much unconditional love and companionship, and our relationships with them can be life-changing. Such was the case for Carla Kelly when she adopted a neglected little Cavachon named Ellie. Be warned: This rescue story is a tearjerker!
“In 2008, we adopted Miss Ellie from Cocker Spaniel Resources in Hudson, Wisconsin. We were looking for a second dog and came across Ellie’s photo on Petfinder. Looking back, it was her big, brown, soul-searching eyes that got me. However, I believe everything happens for a reason, and that she actually picked us.
Ellie came to us at 3 years of age, with no experience at being a house dog. The rescue told us that Ellie was a ‘breeder release’ who had only ever lived outdoors. She was timid and scared of loud noises, car rides, small children, and storms, but she was also curious and quick to learn. So Ellie and I worked together to overcome her fears.
It took months of asking her every day if she wanted to go for a ride in the car. At first, she sat in her chair (the one we all still refer to as ‘Ellie’s chair’) and watched as we walked out the door. After a few weeks, she would go to the door when asked, but then turn around and head to her chair. This progressed slowly to making it out to the garage, then to the door of the car. From there, she would look in the car, but always headed back to her chair. Then one day, she got in the car, and from that day on, she would run to the door when asked if she wanted to go for a ride.
When we took her for a walk, she was fine unless a small child approached – she was so scared of kids. On our usual route, there was a sweet little girl who would be so excited to see the dogs. She would always come up and ask if she could pet them. We would tell her she could pet our other dog, Taz, but not Ellie. We explained that Ellie was scared and needed some distance. That little girl was very patient, and with time Ellie no longer feared her and slowly walked up for some of that attention she’d watched Taz get for months.
Storms were an entirely different story. Ellie would shake in fear, pace back and forth, and whimper. I would get up with her at night, and we would sit out the storms together. At first, I would have to hold her tight and keep telling her it would be okay. As with all the other things she had overcome, this too got better with time. We eventually got to the point where I would wake up to her front feet on the bed, with her looking up at me. I would lift her onto bed, and she would settle in next to me, waiting for the storm to pass. If we knew storms were expected during the night, we would just bring her up on our bed at bedtime. She was such a champ, as she had to work so hard to get past all the things that scared her. Once she did, she was the happiest dog we ever knew.
We lost Ellie to canine cancer the day after Christmas (also my birthday) in 2014. Not a day goes by that we don’t miss her, and there are so many things that I miss about her. The way she ran out to the RV to go racing – she would be so excited, she would run, then jump, then run some more. I miss seeing her at the end of our bed, blocking the breeze from the floor fan because she couldn’t just be in front of the fan, her nose had to actually touch the fan. I really miss being woken up every morning to the sound of her tail hitting the wall – the happier she was, the faster it wagged, and the louder it banged against the wall. I even miss the way she would belch like a sailor after she finished her dinner. I’d never heard a dog burp that loud before, and I haven’t since!
I used to tell Ellie that she was my sunshine girl. I called her that because no matter how bad your day was going, or what was weighing on your mind, after looking at Ellie and seeing how truly happy she was, it would make you smile and be happy to be part of her world.
Although we only had seven very short years with her, Ellie taught us a lot. She inspired me to be a better person, to take chances, to face my own fears, to put my big girl pants on and do what it takes, and to be happy. She was my inspiration to start the EllieBellie Project, which helps raise money for rescue organizations to help dogs just like her. I make and sell dog quilts and blankets, and if I sell a quilt for $25, the whole $25 goes toward the next donation. The cost of materials and my time spent sewing is my contribution. Every time we reach our goal of $300 in sales, another donation can be made.
Since EBP was started in February 2015, we have made five donations of $300 to rescue organizations including Cocker Spaniel Resources, Secondhand Hounds, Last Hope, Rescue Road Trips, and Hearts United for Animals. We recently made a $100 donation to help fund a new documentary film called A Voice For Lil Olive, which is about puppy mill dogs.
I feel that Ellie’s last gift to me was the EllieBellie Project. Through it I have been able to share stories of Ellie and our other rescue dogs, have met some amazing people, and been shown that we can all make a difference if we choose to.”
What a beautiful tribute to a very special dog. Thanks, Carla, for sharing your sweet story and for doing something so wonderful in honor of your Ellie. I’m sure wherever she is she is grateful, not only for the wonderful life you gave her, but also for your selfless efforts to help dogs in-need, just like her.
A devoted dog mom, journalist, and animal activist, Lisa uses her writing to spread awareness about animal welfare and cruelty issues. She lives in Atlanta with two spoiled German Shepherds, one entitled Pug, and a very understanding husband. Read more of her work at her blog and website, and follow her on Twitter.
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