Remembering Ellie, Our Basset Hound


Our dog Ellie passed away at age 14. To celebrate her life, I want to share some stories about this sweet, smart Basset Hound.

Checking Out a Dog at the Library

We met Ellie, at age 8, at a dog-themed fundraiser at our local library. At this “Woof Walk,” patrons gave a donation to walk their dogs around the fall foliage. A Basset Hound rescue had also brought dogs for adoption, including Ellie. My wife Ellen had always wanted a Basset Hound, and this one shared her namesake, so it was kismet. We brought along our beagle mutt Bentley to make sure he and Ellie got along. Happily, they hit it off. Despite Bentley being the bigger of the two, Ellie made it clear from the start: SHE was the boss.

Canine Intelligence

My daughter Olivia had to do a science experiment for school. She decided to explore, “Which of My Dogs Is Smarter?” She predicted that Ellie would win, paws down. Having seen Ellie’s wily ways in action, I had to agree. Ellie once swiped a loaf of French bread off a high counter. By the time I noticed, she had run into another room, meticulously removed the baguette from the plastic wrapping, and devoured it.

To test her hypothesis, Olivia hid treats in my office, then called Ellie from a distant part of the house. In a flash, she raced up the stairs and sniffed out all treats. When she repeated this test with Bentley… well, let’s just say that he has other charms.

Lumps and Bumps

Over the last few years, Ellie developed some odd growths. Our vet determined they were all benign. Then, about a year ago, a new growth appeared at the top of her front right leg. It resembled a mutant cauliflower. We asked about having it removed, but the vet said that since Ellie had a heart murmur, putting her under anesthesia was not wise. Still, Ellie continued to do all her favorite things—having her belly rubbed, stealing food, basking in the sun, and chasing Bentley.

Gross Encounters

(NOTE: This next part is not for the squeamish. You’ve been warned.) As Ellie’s tumor grew, the more she licked it. And the more she licked it, the more it bled… A LOT. It was not uncommon for one of my kids to walk into a room where Ellie had been and say, “Ugh, it looks like a crime scene!”

To control the bleeding, we had luck with a Chinese herb called Yunnan Baiyou. But Ellie still licked her tumor, and the smell got worse. When she left a room, we had to spray air fresher to cover the stench. You know how St. Bernards are famous for carrying barrels of whiskey around their necks? I joked that Ellie should do the same with a can of Fabreze.)

Saying Goodbye

I suspected the end was near when Ellie stopped eating. She still wagged her tail but her energy level plummeted. I was cooking in the kitchen, when Ellie wandered over, and collapsed. In a matter of minutes, she was gone. We wrapped her body, and played “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes on my phone, as we carried her to our unheated garage, a few minutes from our house.

When our previous two dogs had died, it was during the summer or fall, so I had no trouble digging their graves in the woods on our property. Since it was winter I thought that we’d have to cremate her remains. But Finian, my brawny 18-year-old son, was determined. It took him a few days, but he dug her grave. We buried her wrapped body, and covered it with heavy rocks.

As putrid as Ellie’s “aroma” was during the last few months, I’d give anything for another whiff of her, as she strolls in the room. Rest in peace, Ellie. We’ll always remember you.

(I also wrote canine eulogies in 2007 and 2013 for our late, great pals Tanner, and Satchmo, if you’re curious to read them.)

paper airplane and crumbs