Ella was diagnosed with Syringomyelia and taught me more in her short life about how to live life to the fullest, love with all your heart, and learn from each other.

About Me

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The moment I first held Ella, my world changed. She has touched so many people giving love as a therapy dog but now it is time to give back. No matter how hard she tries to give, her eyes show sadness and pain.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

learn from ella; the 4th of july. take time to enjoy life

Enjoying the water and surfing (not quite)

This is a tough time for me because every year my family goes to pawleys island for the 4th of july. All my brothers and sisters (besides my half-brother on my fathers side) is there with their husbands or wives along with their children. I don't have a husband and children, I had ella. That why its hard but I want to tell this story because there is a lesson learned from last year.

Last year ella had a blast! She would spend part of the day at day care because mom didn't want her in the house, but I would pick her up and drop her off several times a day. Its very hot so she couldn't be outside all day. I was extremely protective of her with her SM, but I let that go when I saw how happy she was playing on the beach with everyone.

These memories are so valuable now but also was what I learned. She had several days of activity which can aggravate some and it had a toll on her.  All those fun times we had added up and when the 4th of july came, she had one of the worse days.

This is the post I wrote last year that explains exactly what I was feeling at the time. http://fightforella.blogspot.com/2010/07/4th-of-july-and-suddenly-dont-feel-like.html She would not move and she was rubbing her face. I could see the pain in her eyes and it killed me. She mostly slept but she went from this happy cavalier to one that was hurting. I felt so guilty, scared, upset and I wanted to take it back. How could I do that to her? Thinking back, its not that I *made* her run. I didn't make her do anything, she did it herself and loved being around everyone and playing. If she didn't, I would have taken her back to day care because I was at this time extremely limiting her activity and protective of her.

I cried and cried all day. The night of the 4th, my sisters family and I go to my dads house. There is a dinner with tons of people, jump castles and games for the children, music, drinks and dancing for the adults. The night ends with one of the most beautiful display of fireworks that I can her the oohs and ahhs as I write this.

I don't even think I could eat. I told everyone I had to go back to the house to be with ella. Ella was asleep and was fine but I needed to be with her. I felt so bad and I just couldn't enjoy anything without her. We snuggled together and then when I started to hear the fireworks in the distance, we went outside to look. I walked a little up the street, standing on my toes and trying to see it through the trees.

The next morning ella was back to herself. I wrote to a group about this and how terrible I felt. I remember one guy said something that I will remember forever. He asked me if I ever have done something that I really enjoyed but felt bad the next day but would still do it again if you could? I thought of dinner and wine with my girlfriends staying up late chatting and having fun. The next day, I would be tired but it was worth it. We have all had those times. Maybe snow skiing and waking up sore but it was so much fun.

Granted this week was a little too much but the moral of the story is something that I valued. I started to take time to let ella enjoy things in life. She loved going to the park, playing with other dogs, chasing birds, and holding her back for fear that it would be too much wouldn't be a life for her. I was well tuned in to how she was doing and when enough was enough. I am glad I made myself not keep her from doing things and actually take time to actually do things each day.

Pawley's Island Parade

Nana (mom) and Ella

Looking for sea shells in the surf- One of her favorite things!

Look at that smile! How much fun she was having!

Looking for birds and enjoying the scene

Maybe I see a fish

Watching Bobby ride a wave in

Got to be where the action is and make sure that everyone is ok. I'm a good watch dog!

Can you spot Ella? 

Some of my family enjoying the parade

Learn from ella; its ok to have fun and take a break to enjoy life.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Angel Oak

The day I met Ella for the first time was also the first time I saw “The Angel Oak.” The Angel Oak is an oak tree that is thought to be over 1500 years old. It has survived hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and is said to be one of the oldest things living or man made east of the Rockies.

My mom and I went to meet Ella’s breeder and see the puppies she had available. The trip took us on a detour to John’s Island, SC. My mom had spent her summers on John’s Island at her Grandmother’s house. She talked of those days with a light in her eyes and a youthfulness I had not seen before. Mom never talked about her past because her mom and dad had both passed away when she was young. I think the pain is still there so it hurts her to remember or maybe she doesn’t. She never really talked about things no matter how much I asked or wanted to know. However, this day was different and I could see the good memories flood through my mom’s head.

Ella gave me that. She gave me the time with mom and the memories she had that she told me as we passed over a bridge or by a market that was once there.

Our day ended at the church where her Grandparents graves were. She asked me if I had ever seen “the Tree”. I went to College of Charleston and I had heard of the Angel Oak, but I never saw it. It was right around the corner from the church so we went to see it.

The sight was breathtaking. This massive tree has limbs the size of trees that reach back to the ground. This is something that has stood the test of time and has made it despite the odds. Why is it that this one tree has made it this long? I can’t remember if we went to see the Angel Oak and then mom told me to stop at the church later? What if we never went that day together? Would I have known about this little church where my Great Grandparents graves were? Would I have learned about those summers my mom had with her grandmother who loved to play cards? Would we both travel back in time to a place filled with good childhood memories and a time that I can only imagine?

Thank you Ella for giving me that day and those moments with mom to visit the Angel Oak that was there as it has been for the past 1500 years.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Buying a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Be Part of Solution, Not Part of Problem

How can one not fall in love once they see a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Puppy? Those big puppy eyes looking at you, then you give in because they are too hard to resist.   Check out this email that was sent to a Charlotte Meet-Up Group along with puppy pictures attached.

"Just wanted to let everyone know that we have 6 gorgeous babies, soon to be available, from 2 litters.

3 Ruby boys, parents are 12 and 10lbs each.

2 Blenheim boys, parents are 12 and 11lbs each.

Boys are $750 each, and will be up to date on shots and deworming before going to their new homes.

Both fathers are AKC registered and one is champion sired, but mothers are both CKC registered, as will be the pups.

I have one female, she is a rare little thing. She is white, tan and SABLE instead of black. Some also call this chocolate. This is a very rare, and has happened once before with one of this mother's previous litters. As the others online that I have researched report, the pup from the previous litter was the same: her sable coat grew out with puppy hair and it was replaced with a VERY deep dark red. She is gorgeous, and extremely unique. I am asking $895 for her.

I am attaching pictures of all, please pass this along to anyone you know who may be looking for the perfect family pet this summer! They are 5 weeks today, so there is still a couple of weeks before they can go to their new homes, but I am accepting deposits to hold a puppy of your choice"

Then my friend replied to me:
So she sent to a friend of hers and sure enough, it worked and a puppy had a new home.
There are several things that immediately stand out to me. I will get into more details on choosing a puppy later, but want to point out some basics.

1). CKC registered. Stay away from breeders that advertise puppies from any registry other than CKCSC USA or AKC. Actually, you would want to make sure that the breeder is a member of one or both Cavalier breed clubs in the USA: The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, USA. (CKCSC, USA) and The American Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club (ACKCSC).

2) Advertised weight. This weight is actually BELOW the breed standard. http://www.ckcsc.org/ states:

"Height 12 to 13 inches at the withers; weight, proportionate to height, between 13 and 18 pounds. These are ideal heights and weights; slight variations are permissible, and a dog should be penalized only in comparison with one of equal general appearance, type and quality. The weedy specimen is as much to be penalized as the oversized one."

Many potential Cavalier buyers want a SMALL Cavalier. This is why they advertise weight. Not only is it below what they should be so I would either think its false or worse, they have poor living conditions.

3) "one is Champion sired". Even if this is true (which I doubt), this was added to make them seem more attractive.  Many will put pictures of other Champions on websites to attract buyers. This should not be any consideration when buying a puppy.

4) "I have one female, she is a rare little thing. She is white, tan and SABLE instead of black. Some also call this chocolate. This is a very rare," I have never heard of this at all. There are 4 colors of Cavaliers: Blenheim, Tri-Color, Black and Tan, and Ruby. Even if this is true which she "researched", a reputable breeder would know about the breed. But since this is "rare" she is charging more.

5) "I am attaching pictures of all, please pass this along to anyone you know who may be looking for the perfect family pet this summer!" This is one thing I see, "perfect Christmas present"...etc. Reputable breeders would not advertise as being a present, good for the summer, etc. They would want to make sure that their puppies are going to a good home and actually want to make sure that you are right for them. They would not consider (even in rescue) it a good idea to get one as a present.

Last weekend, another "breeder" that was on the email list sent out email about having puppies. I heard she came to the meet-up at the park with puppies and was trying to sell them.

All the emails and information I sent about Cavalier Health, went to the same people but did this matter? They wanted to make money. She even advertised she had an older boy just turned 2 that has been a perfect stud dog. So let me sell a cavalier that was bred too young to another to use to "make money". No reputable breeder would do this. I would not even call this person a breeder.  They are a damage to the breed. They may have one litter a year to make money, but know nothing about the breed or health. Even if they do, they choose to ignore it.

You don't know the history, if the breeder did any health testing, how they were raised, if they are registered, but you do know that the puppy is just too cute and all that does not matter. Then reality hits and the puppy may develop a health problem, has temperment issues, etc. but can you call the breeder for health? You didn't care about all that information, all you looked at was the adorable puppy.

In Mary Beth Squirells post Embee Cavaliers: Buying a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Puppy: she sums up what I have been thinking:

"People buying cavalier puppies are just as responsible for this breeds welfare as those breeding them. If you are not purchasing Cavaliers from responsible breeders you are not doing your part to protect and help this breed."

I highly suggest reading her blog because it has several good health links, information, with some fun pictures and posts mixed in.  She is a breeder that is doing what she can to help the health of the breed. She has organized scan days for help with CM/SM research and had MRI scans for her Cavaliers. Check out her post about Breeding and MRI's in Canada.  Did you know that she also SHOWS her Cavaliers. Reputable breeders show Cavaliers in some aspect, confirmation, agility, obedience, etc. so they can compare to others. They are involved.  Roycroft Cavalier Information Center has a lot of information on selecting a reputable breeder.

If you love the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed, then do your research and make sure that you are part of the SOLUTION and not adding to the PROBLEM.

Friday, June 17, 2011

How Can I Profit From the Example of Ella

“Here lies DASH, the Favourite Spaniel of Queen Victoria
By whose command this Memorial was erected.
He died on the 20 December, 1840 in his 9th year.
His attachment was without selfishness,
His playfulness without malice,
His fidelity without deceit.
READER, if you would live beloved and die regretted, profit by the example of DASH.”

My life will never be the same since after My Angel Ella came into my life. I have learned so much from her.

"Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, Filling an emptiness we don't even know we have."

Thom Jones

Ella was not just a dog. She was angel that was sent to me. She has taught me about loving one more than yourself and that I could ever imagine. She taught me about forgiveness. She taught me how to make someone’s day just by showing you care. We will forever be connected because she will remain in my heart forever. I believe that even though she is not physically here, she is an angel looking down on me and everyone. So I will ask myself:

What Would Ella Want

She would want to run after the birds.

She would want to sniff each flower.

She would want to great each person and dog with a smile and waiting for them to pet her.

She would want to run around in the park with her fur friends.

She would want to run on the sand in the beach.

She would want to run after a tennis ball and wait for me to come to her to throw it again 

She would want to spread across the whole bed like a princess.

I could say so many things but she never asked for them. I just knew these are things she enjoyed. The only time she would get the “please mom, I don’t want to” action was when we were at the beach. We slept in a bedroom that was by itself. The upstairs was where all the action was including *cough* kitchen. She wanted to be around everyone and even if they were going to sleep, she wanted to make sure she was there and not missing anything. She would sit by the door impatiently wanting to go back. She even scratched to door with her paw, looking up at me with those sad eyes.

We left the beach at 5am the Monday after Easter to return back to work in Charlotte. She immediately got sick in the car. She was running on the beach Sunday but that would be her last run on the sandy beach. The last time she would chase shells in the breaking waves. I had no idea that would be the last time she smiled at all.

That Monday she did not get better and she did not hog the bed that night, nor did she end up on top of my head and pillows. I woke up to her on the bathroom floor. I took her to the Vet Tuesday morning. She came home because they thought it was a bug. She still did not eat and again even though she always is close by, she was on the floor again. The next day when I took her back to the vet, I did not know that when she would return home, it would be her spirit.

I think Ella got what she wanted, a weekend at her favorite place before it would be her time to say goodbye.

I never thought about it that way until now. I feel like Ella was sent to me as an Angel to help me through some hard times. She saved my life and that is why I wanted to do everything I could to save hers. It seems like it was before her time, but maybe there was a reason she felt it was her time to go back to Heaven and help me and others from there.

Maybe she did not want me to see her struggle. Sometimes I feel like I was losing strength and I get so upset with myself. It can weigh on you emotionally to not know what the future holds. I loved and still love her so much that I wanted to be the one to have the pain instead of her.

Would Ella want that? Would she want me to be scared of losing her? Would she want to see the sadness in my eyes that she came to me to change?

No. She would not want that because that was her whole reason she found me. It does still hurt and the pain is still raw but I have to think of everything she taught me.

What did I learn from her?

More to come…

This is a picture of Ella at the Beach the Weekend before she got sick

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Poem from a Loving Person to Comfort Me

I have met some people on Facebook. In particular, some people in the Cavalier Army that have been a true blessing to hold my hand, let me cry. laugh and I am forever grateful.  The army started when her beloved Cavalier Mickey was sick and needed prayers. More about the army later, but wanted to share the poem she wrote for me.

To Comfort My Mum.

The days have passed since Ive been gone
But you my sweet mummy Anne will forever mourn
It seemed so sad that I had to go, why you ask
But that you will never know.
I just want to send some comfort your way
And tell you that I wished I could stay
I wanted to forever run with you and play

But I am only lent by God,
But while I was with you we were like peas in a pod
Our time together was special indeed
You fulfilled so many of my needs
I am still with you of that you can be sure
Just look at the clouds and you will see me once more
At night my little eyes will glisten up above
And I will wink at you as I float free like a dove

Please dont worry about me at all
For I have so much love and lots more
The love you gave me was so intense
Sometimes life just doesnt make sense
But be assured that the time we had
Wasnt meant to end by making you sad

Look on me a sample from God;
he displays his love through a loving dog
The way in which I would lick your nose and snuggle close and wrap myself around your toes,
for you smelt like a beautiful rose.
You see its love that makes me do those things, and now up here that love echoes like a constant ring.

For when I watch you each day I feel the
sadness that you display
Mummy I want you to miss me but let me go I am waiting here with God and one day you yourself will come to the show.
Until that time be assured I are fine.
Gods taking care of me all the time.
I have lots of things to do and see,
but most of all I watch over thee.

So just to comfort you right now, I take a bow, and salute you with my little paw, for you my mummy could have done no more.
As I run of now to play with God, I want you to be at peace and smile for us each, for you and your love covered me like sand on a beach.

Farewell my mum until that day, when I will see you again and we can once more cuddle and play.love....

Your sweet cavalier  girl Ella.

Julie Schofield

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Good Night Ella

My sister would sing a lullaby to her son every night before he went to sleep. To me Ella was my “fur” baby so every night I sang the same song my sister did to Ella.

Good Night Ella

Good Night Ella

Good Night Ella

It’s time to go to sleep

Just a simple melody but I sang this to her since she was a puppy and it was our bonding time. If I started to sing this she would come from the other room if there were others around, and come to my bed. People would say no! Not fair I want her out here, but she was my little girl. Her eyes would become heavy as she would snuggle up to me (usually taking up all the bed) and we would go to sleep.

On May 2nd, I sang this the last time to her as I held her paw to join others in Rainbows Bridge. I can barely talk about it because tears are flowing now, but my bed is now empty. I actually can’t sleep in my bed still because it feels so empty. It’s like a hole where Ella was so I have only slept in my bed a couple of times since that day. I usually will sleep on the sofa. I try to close my eyes and feel her. One night my face felt on fire from all the tears I cried that I started to think was it her licking them away? Was that what I was feeling? I don’t know but it made me feel better and eventually I was able to go to sleep. Maybe now she is the one singing to me or comforting me because I know deep down inside she is with me still.