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Ella’s Last Days of Unconditional Love

April 21, 2009

Ella in 2008

Ella in 2008

Ella, our wonderful Golden Retriever, is now living her last few days. She has had cancer of the muzzle and mouth for more than six months and, despite medication, is in a lot of pain. She can no longer eat on her own since the cancer has spread all around her upper teeth and the tumor descends down into her mouth. And sometimes, after she does eat with our help, she bleeds from the mouth, which is now infected. Though the cancer has contorted her face and closed one of her eyes, she is still an amazingly beautiful being.

In spite of her fast-deteriorating condition, she still plays with us when she has the energy, goes on walks with us (albeit it at a very slow pace), wags her tail profusely when friends come over, helps Dasha welcome and heal her acupuncture clients, and reminds us always of the power and mystery of unconditional love.

Ella simply waiting in openness

Ella simply waiting in openness

Dasha and I brought Ella into our family at the age of six weeks after we had been living together for only a few months. My son, Benoit, named her after Ella Fitzgerald. Ella has been our constant companion and has brought great joy to us and all those who have met her. She took part in our Sunday night meetings in San Francisco and has been a regular participant in my Sunday night group meetings in Scottsdale. After welcoming everyone, she generally lies down in the center of our circle and reminds us all through her steady breathing and deep relaxation of what it means to let go.

Guided by observation, intuition, and the advice of her doctor (with whom she is very comfortable), we will take her to the clinic on Friday, April 24th at 4 PM to finally relieve her suffering. Benoit, who loves her very much, will fly in from Boston to be with her during her final moments on this earth.

As I write this, I am in tears—not only from the stark fact of her impending death (of course, we and everyone we know are going to die) but also from the happiness and joy that she has brought us and all those she has met for almost 14 years. Her wagging tail always felt (and feels) to me like a great smile from being itself, a reminder of the awakening power of unconditional love.

Ella, thank you for the tremendous gift of your being! Though you will never read this, I know that you feel what is in my heart.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. pureatheart permalink
    April 21, 2009 1:30 pm

    I ended that blog with tears in my eyes. My deepest sympathies go out to you and your family, she is a beautiful dog. I have two dogs and I can’t bear the thought that one day I will have to face what you are.

    I’d like to say that I hope Friday goes well, but that would be stupid, so I am sending you a virtual big hug and hanky (you will have to imagine) from across the sea in sunny England xxxx

  2. April 21, 2009 2:31 pm

    What a lovely looking dog.
    Very sorry to read this.

  3. April 22, 2009 8:07 am

    Thank you for this special post and reminder of the gifts our animal friends bestow on us each day.

  4. Michael Tetreault permalink
    April 22, 2009 10:49 pm

    My sister Michelle (your neighbor) told me all about Ella and what a special dog she is. Although I haven’t met Ella in person I wanted you to know that just viewing her photo brought me joy. My fellow sentient being Gidget will turn 10 in June and on occasion I think of the day when I will face the same situation. It sounds like you have given Ella a wonderful life. I will light a candle for her on Friday.

  5. Suzanne Boyer Lalande permalink
    April 25, 2009 1:39 pm

    Bonjour Dennis Lewis and family,

    After reading about Ella’s last moments with you and your close ones today, I just wanted to write to you to tell you that I share with you your feelings of sadness and loss of such a loving friend and at the same time celebrate the great times you all had together with her, those warm memories will always stay with you and comfort you.
    Suzanne Boyer Lalande

  6. George Bezaitis permalink
    July 15, 2009 7:28 pm


  7. October 31, 2013 2:48 pm

    What a beautiful eulogy. I know how difficult it is to lose a loved pet. Your pet is your family. God bless you and I hope that you will save a life in remembrance of Ella.

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