October 16, 2003 - December 2, 2010
Nellie's story starts December 21, 2003. We took one look at her and knew we were taking her home. On Christmas Day, Nellie suddenly became ill. We struggled and worried over the next four days with trips to the veterinarian, a two day stay in the ICU, and the sweetest tempered puppy you ever did see. The vet's office loved her. Fortunately, she was a tough little girl and pulled through just fine. After that, Nellie had our hearts completely.
Nellie was an easy puppy, always good natured and easy to train. She was incredibly well behaved, especially for a Mastiff. She spoiled us and made us believe all Mastiffs were such angels. We learned a great deal more about the sense of adventure Mastiff puppies can have when she blessed us with a litter of eleven beautiful pups on March 14, 2006.
Nellie was the queen in our home and she knew it. She would nap on the bed when we weren't home, she'd discipline the three boys (with a quiet rumble and a look) if she felt they were out of line, and go for rides in the car whenever the planned trip permitted. Nellie's only wish in life was to spend all her time with us. She viewed my departure for work with a heavy sigh and spent the day waiting for my return.
Nellie was a beautiful dark apricot, a little on the small side. She moved well and was nicely proportioned. I was proud of her overall health and her ability to continue to walk four miles several times a week until a few short months before she left us. Nellie continued to have a playful nature until the day we said goodbye and she loved the young dogs we welcomed into the family, including the mixed breed puppy, Bowie, who joined our family June 2009. He was unintimidated by her size or vocalization when they played and gave her a run for her money.
In early October 2010, we noticed Nellie limping occasionally. Over a couple of weeks, the limping became more obvious and a large knot began to appear in her front left leg, just above the pastern. I knew what it was but couldn't help but hope against hope that I was wrong. We took Nellie to our veterinarian and friend, Dr. Cannon, who confirmed my worst fears - osteosarcoma. After soul searching and research, Phil and I decided that the best course for Nellie was to keep her as comfortable as possible for as long as possible. So, that's what we did.
On December 2, 2010 we made the very difficult trip to our veterinarian's office with Nellie for the last time. Lying on the floor, her head in my lap, she was completely content and at peace. It was as clear as it could be to Phil and myself that Nellie was ready and as Dr. Cannon placed the IV catheter, Nellie calmly watched without flinching. As Dr. Cannon prayed over Nellie and praised us for loving her and being good stewards of God's gift, we said goodbye, knowing that the tears were for ourselves and the pain we felt at losing her - not for her. She was at peace and pain free.
I still come home each day expecting her "woof" to greet me at the door. When I get up in the dark, I still carefully feel around with my feet in order to avoid stepping on her. The countless memories fill my heart and, although they often bring tears of longing for her, they warm my heart with the love that I have for her and that I know she had for me.
Rest in peace, Sweet Nellie. Until we meet again