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Ellie lived for a little over ten years.

During that time I ran over her. Twice. I also unknowingly dragged her 100 yards behind a trailer she’d been in. Despite this and a hundred other minor insults I never intended, Ellie, my black lab loved me with everything she had in her. I was her master. Her devotion to me, her unmerited love and affection for me was endless. She was canine grace.

This is the way of  dogs. No wonder we get so attached to them. It is the hardest soul who cannot appreciate the pure, unadulterated love of a canine. It may not have always been like that, but certainly in the modern world, canines have evolved into organisms that seem to live only for our affections or to please us. No matter what our own predilections or sins. They truly don’t care. They want to companion us down any road we go.

Now my affections for Ellie were not as pure and simple.

We got her for Moses two years after Jake left for Heaven. I loved Jake’s dog Moses. I mostly only liked Ellie for her first five years. Which of course was no fault of her own.

Humans are not the same in capacity as dogs. Well, except for Jesus, offering perfect love and grace for every human like He does. But than him being God and all, no wonder I don’t do as well with the whole unconditional love thing. We humans get lost in the world of harbored insults, prejudices, and retribution… not so our canines.

I swore I would never be one of this crazy ladies who had dog slobber all over the inside of her windows of her car. Or pretend to keep dog hair and dander out of the back seat of said car by using a fitted sheet where it was never designed to go. Even Moses didn’t live inside my house.

Ellie did all of those things. And more.

Over the last two years, Ellie in her quiet, unassuming way, insisted she sleep at the foot of my bed. I say insist because it was incredible how she accomplished this. Think about how these dogs of ours let us know what is in their heart without a single word. Her place in the world became the rug in the bedroom at the top of the stairs, lying under a ceiling fan, the soft snoring of her master only feet away. Or if it was the daytime, she lay there and waited until I got there at night. She would rather stay at the foot of my bed than eat, given the choice. When she wasn’t able to go to the farm anymore and didn’t even want to, it was the foot of the bed that let her rest easy.

And that is where she died.

I got up in the middle of the night last night and checked myself as I stepped around her. It only took a moment to remember she wasn’t there anymore.

There is a residence to love that goes beyond physical presence. We are changed when we experience love. But there is something more to it than just the changes it makes in us. If you ask me I would tell you that it is my belief that the entity we call love, while we can’t measure it in Joules or inches, has properties that go much beyond fleeting emotions. Maybe one day science will map how our endocrine systems, so increasingly attuned to canines, affects our physiology in the long term. But it is likely to never have the capacity to map love in all it’s ramifications and how important it is that we recognize and grab and selfishly share every bit of love we come to know.

As profound as death is, love is more so.

Rest in peace, Ellie girl. You were a good dog. Who although you left a lot of hair and stink in my back seat, you point me to things bigger than you and me. I praise God for your part in my family.

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