Tributes to our rescues who cross to the Rainbow Bridge are never easy to write, but this one, by far, has been the hardest.

Eli was 15 years old and, obviously, could not live forever, but if you had ever met him (or Eleanor), you know he was a tail-wrigglin’, tongue-hangin’, happy-go-lucky puppy until the day he was diagnosed with lung cancer just a week ago on Mama Donna’s birthday.

Journey to the Bridge

We naturally panicked at his quick change in demeanor and thought maybe we were just overreacting because Eli just “wasn’t being Eli.” We were hoping it was his respiratory infection, on top of the cancer, that was affecting his energy and even desire to eat. He received a shot of antibiotics and steroids on Monday and seemed to do better for a day or two, but it didn’t last. He was absolutely miserable yesterday, refusing to eat or to be force-fed. He enjoyed being loved on, but the moment we were done, he wanted to crawl back into his bed and be left alone. This morning, he began to vomit bile.

He was telling us …

Mama Donna took him back to the vet this afternoon and said goodbye … and now we all must try to find a way to do so, too.

This Just Hurts …

As volunteers, supporters and dog parents, we’ve almost all had to lose a beloved dog at one time or another, many to that ugly “c-word” that has already taken both our beloved Slick and Odie in this month alone (Odie was just unexpectedly on Monday). It’s heartbreaking, and more than we can process right now.

All of our dogs are special at rescue, but Eli was incredibly special. He was our rock star; the patriarch of rescue; that smiling, bubbly blur of fur who always made us laugh and shake our heads at his silliness — dragging his belly around or lying down and refusing to walk back on his leash. Whether you had been at the rescue within the past month or the past 10 years, or you just followed our website and/or social media pages, you knew Eli and his lovely wife, Eleanor. They were always the center of attention.

The Dynamic Duo

Eli and Eleanor arrived at rescue with Slick ten years ago. They spent the first 4-5 years of their lives as breeder dogs. When the breeder decided their puppies weren’t “up to standards” and “he was done with them,” he called us … and told us, if we didn’t come get them, he would put them down.

For years, people showed interest in adopting Eli or Eleanor, but mostly Eli. He was more outgoing and “fun” when potential adopters came to visit him and put on more of a show. He even went home a couple of times with prospective adopters, both of which times he got loose and took off. The first time he was found easily; the second time, it took Mama Donna and Papa Jimmy a week to find him. He was beyond happy to return to rescue and his wife. That’s when we decided it was going to take someone extra-special to adopt them and they would both have to be adopted together. Eleanor has a heart murmur and requires monthly medications, so that tended to thwart a lot of genuine interest in adopting them both.

The Happy Couple

Believe it or not, even though these two have spent their entire lives in kennels, they were very happy at rescue. They never had a pupppyhood at the breeder’s, so they had one at our rescue. If you’ve ever adopted a dog who spent their first years in a breeding kennel, you know it’s quite the challenge to help them become “normal” dogs. They don’t know anything about grass, stairs, even toys. And housetraining? Yeah, no. Fortunately, these two were fearless and fun and, quite honestly, a hot mess. They lived like rock stars … and we let them party it up every day.

Eli on arrival day

Eli on Arrival Day

Eleanor on arrival day

Eleanor on Arrival Day

They seemed to love being the “mascots” of rescue; the mom and pop of the other rescues … even though they were “feisty” to other dogs and never really welcoming like our warden Katie and predecessor, BB. It was their world, and we were just allowed to enjoy it with them.

Until recently, this couple had only spent a few days apart, including the time Eleanor required surgery on her bum. They were like this when she came back.

E&E Is “E” Now

Now it’s Eleanor’s World, and we will do everything we can to make it the best one possible for her. Until last weekend, she had spent most every day and every night with her four-legged soulmate of 15 years. It was an adjustment, and we were happy to bring her into the house to spend some time with him this past week. We don’t want to “humanize” her too much (she deserves to be a dog), but we know it will be an adjustment for her, sleeping and living alone. She probably won’t mind someone not stealing her food and toys all of the time and “bumping” her out of the way to greet people, though. 😉

What to Remember

If there’s anything to remember from this heartbreaking experience, it’s that Eli taught us all how to live in the moment; how to be happy, no matter what you’ve been through … and to always have the most toys … even if you have to steal them from your beloved. He was always happy, always smiling, always ready to take on a world he knew nothing about but was just happy to be in.

We know he’s going to give all the belated rescues a run for their money again at the Rainbow Bridge.  “Only shooting stars break the mold.”

In Memory of Eli

Eli didn’t have many sponsors throughout the years, but Eleanor (who requires monthly meds) did. Until recently, Eli didn’t require much of anything, except his monthly flea/tick preventatives, food and, of course, treats. The recent visits to the vet and all of the tests have wracked up. We don’t even know what we owe at this point, but will try to get an invoice soon.

If you would like to donate in his memory, you can do so by clicking the donate button below. If anything is left over, it will go to other dogs like him who need long-term care.