Holidays, Image Success and the Loss of a Friend

16th September 2015
In reality, the title of this blog is in completely the wrong order. At the minute everything seems to pale into insignificance to the loss of our fifteen year old dog Ellie. Ellie was our second dog since Mel and I married way back in 1990. Lucky, who lived to be sixteen was bought by Mel and was always slightly more her dog than mine. I bought Ellie in 2000 when our daughter Leia was one and she was to be Leia's dog. In truth Ellie was our dog as she meant different things to all of us. She was Leia's play pal and when Mel had serious illness she really bonded with Ellie. For me she was my dog, from the moment I bought her home on the front seat of my lime green Renault scenic in a cardboard box, to that fateful day two days ago when we said our last goodbye. During Mels illness I would often have to sleep downstairs to get any sleep and Ellie would always get down with me. Mel would often get up in the night and find us fast asleep, (some guard dog!). As a wildlife photographer she caused me some problems. Particularly during the summer months when I wanted to get up at or before sunrise, why? Because when I got up, whatever the time it was walk time and she would bark the house down in excitement. My strategies for dealing with this where to get up even earlier and take her out first or even going as far as sleeping on the floor near the door with my kit so I could attempt to slip out un-noticed. And yes, I'm even going to miss that.

Ellie had health problems with her heart and joints for over two years but we controlled these with a range of up to five tablets and potions from our vet. Not cheap but worth every penny as we had another two years where her quality of life was good and she was still able to walk miles with us. Unfortunately, during the last two months a cough developed, signifying the start of the end stages of heart failure and the last four weeks she stopped eating, despite our best efforts with constant roast chicken and fish. Mel had said this time I had to make the decision and Leia and me took her to the vet at the end of August not expecting to bring her back. The vet thought another tablet and an increase in dose may help so we tried it. This did enable us to get her on holiday with us to the Isle of Mull for one last time. She walked with us (short walks) and had a good time but it was obvious that she was still not responding and she was eating very little. We came back from our week away and she had an appointment to go and see the vet for a revisit.

I had made up my mind and we where all well prepared. Ellie was a fighter and she kept giving me glimpses of the old Ellie. That lunchtime I came home and more in hope gave her a tin of tuna, She ate it. I opened the door to take her to the vet and she leapt into the back of the car. I knew I was kidding myself the vet listened to her heart and advised us it was all over the place. We told her what we thought and she said we where making the right decision. And we went ahead, I signed the form and Ellie passed away in my wife's arms. There was much crying by the girls while I held it back. I would go running when we got home in the torrential rain, truly no-one does see the heartache when your crying in the rain.

Over the fifteen plus years we where together I kept my promise that she would be walked every day, in fact the only days she ever missed where when she was ill. I also kept the hardest promise of not letting her suffer. The right decision for her but so hard for us. Goodbye Ellie, you where the best!

As you can imagine our holiday on Mull was coloured by the above but I did manage to see White-Tailed Eagles most days and the cottage we stopped in was superb. Otters where a different matter. We had a brisk northerly wind all week which made the sea very choppy and I think they may have gone further up the sea lochs to escape this. I did get some nice images of a mink although obviously many have mixed feelings about them! The link to our accommodation is here, I can highly recommend it!

I also found out today that one of my images has made it into the Best Shots section of Wild Planet magazine. Open the links below to take a look at the image and the magazine.

As you can see this is a worldwide publication with some very impressive photography. I am extremely happy to be included along side such great work. I hope my next blog will be a little more upbeat but this one had to be dedicated to my best friend.

Ellie 2000-2015


Photo comment By Mike: Sad news indeed Scotty. This is an event we never prepare ourselves for when we have dogs or cats, and it ever gets any easier. Be happy with the memories of the pleasure and loyalty she gave you. 👍

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