Winter’s Last Day for My “Ella” – 13 May 2009 


It is the Winter of your life,

and your eyes have grown as clouded as the December sky.

I will care for you as I did during the Spring of your life,

and promise that you will pass as gently

as snow falling on frozen fields.

I will sit by your grave and weep,

and remember all the seasons of your life,

for all the seasons of my own.

[Stanza from the poem “The Seasons of Your Life” in

Pieces of My Heart – Writings Inspired by Animals and Nature,

Copyright Jim Willis 2002]


Ella, the old Dalmatian girl, lies on a pillow at my feet. Cataract-filmed eyes stare out through the French doors. This is her last night on this earth. We have made a quality of life decision. Hate it.

I stare at the blank page. I look down at Ella. I blow my nose. I stare at the blank page. I look down at Ella. I am trying to memorize the spots on her nose.

I’ve only had Ella for a year and a half, but we’re both old souls and it feels like forever. She was born deaf. She was wandering the streets and was picked up by animal control officers, who delivered her to the local kill shelter, where she had then run out of time. She was advertised for adoption as being “2-3 years old.” She is approximately 12 years old today.

Ella arrived with numerous medical problems. Treatment was frequently necessary and expensive. Friends helped. Ella blossomed from 31 pounds to an optimum 52 pounds. I’m one helluva cook.

As is typical in deaf children, Ella makes weird vocalizations – I call one sound she makes before her dinner is served “the baby dinosaur cry” – she sounds like a Pterodactyl. I named her after my darling Fitzgerald and prayed she could learn They Can’t Take That Away from Me, so we could appear on The Tonight Show and I could pay some vet bills.

Due to her neuropathy, Ella never walks in a straight line. In fact, she often lurches diagonally across a room like a drunken sailor. I slept with Ella in my bed until I got tired of her wetting the bed and falling out of the bed at least three times per night.

Ella gets along with all other dogs, and cats. When a much larger dog was mean to Ella, life became a profusion of baby gates in doorways and I am certain I could qualify for Olympic track & field. Ella doesn’t snore. Ella always licks her plate clean. Ella can’t hear the doorbell. Ella is perfect.

We who rescue, shelter, adopt and foster animals have seen the scars inflicted by humanity. Ella is a perfect example. She has forgiven us.

I look from the blank page, to Ella, to the clock on the wall. I note the number of hours remaining before my veterinarian friend comes to us – a compassionate luxury I’m grateful for.

I went out early this morning with the shovel to dig Ella’s grave. Instead, I let the sunrise wash over me and the wind dry my tears. Tomorrow.

We are all busy people. We forget to tell those we love that we love them. True, a dog biscuit is a reward – for the dog. Looking your dog in his eyes and telling him you love him makes you both feel good. Please do this today, in memory of Ella, and every day for the common good.

Ella, dear girl ... it really wasn’t long enough, but thank you for choosing me to share the Winter of your life.

I will sit by your grave and weep.

Jim's book "PIECES OF MY HEART - Writings Inspired by Animals and Nature" benefits animal rescue efforts. For samples, info on fundraising and to download "HOW COULD YOU?":, or click here to order through :


**Some of the most important things in life are not "things"! Please use personal pronouns (not "it") when referring to animals.**


Editor's Note:

You can read a review of Jim's book 'Pieces of my heart' here on this link:

For more of Jim's stories, articles and poems, follow this link:

Dogs Come when Called

"Dogs come when called. Cats take a message and get back to you."

"Of course, every cat is really the most beautiful woman in the room."

Edward Verrall Luca (essayist)

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