Ellie on her way home on 17 Sept 2010

I'm not sure I know where to start. A few weeks ago I saw a message on a local dachshund rescue group's Facebook site that four puppies had been surrendered. The owners of the parents tried to give them to DARE (Dachshund Adoption, Rescue and Education) when the pups were 2 weeks old. The mother of the pups was nearly 10 when they were born. The folks at DARE convinced the owners to keep the puppies until 5 weeks of age. It was at this point they were put into the loving care of Julia, their new foster mom (and Brie and Kodi their new pack mates). When I saw the female pup's eyes in the photo, I knew I wanted to provide her with a "furever" home. I immediately called my wife and suggested we jump in and help the pup then called "Sarah." My wife's response was a resounding, "yes."

SO, it was off to the DARE website to fill out the rather thorough online application. Within just a few minutes I received a call from Judy, a wonderful and huge hearted lover of all things dachshund. We talked for about 20-30 mins and in the end she informed me she was approving my application. I ran out of my office and shared this news with some students that were close by ... what a high!

We set up a time for the family to visit Ellie about a week later when she was seven weeks old. Julia was a perfect foster mom caring so lovingly for Ellie, the name we gave her from the German name "Elfriede" which means "elf strength." The little runt had promise to be a truly powerful mini dachshund. She immediately weaseled her way into my heart. I hoped she would bond with my 13-year old son, Andrew, so he could have a pup that would be his own. He would learn a lot growing up along side and caring for her.

On September 17th, her 8-week birthday, I went up to pick up Ellie. She had been to the veterinarian that was working with the DARE folks to get her second series of injections. She had also been wormed twice between her 5th and 8th weeks. All seemed good to go. My mom joined me and enjoyed caring for Ellie on our way home. That was a marvelous afternoon. Ellie and I got to enjoy one another and she also got to know the rest of her pack - two Yorkies (Connie and Bessie) and two doxies (Hans and Hilde). We had already introduced Ellie to their smells by bringing a towel with the pack scents to her foster family. We also had introduced the pack to Ellie's smell in similar fashion. Ellie jumped right in and began to enjoy the company of the other dogs. Hans was so very patient with her; Hilde had already taken upon the role of surrogate mommy dog. No matter what Ellie tried the pack dealt with her with measured response and often just let Ellie get away with what ever she wanted - from steeling a pull toy to biting the scruff of Hilde's neck in her mouth.

We took Ellie to our vet for a new puppy check up on September 23rd. Once again all looked great. There was no reason to question Ellie's health. She was socializing well and often went with me when I would cart the kids about. We were enjoying having a puppy in the house for the first time in 11 years, since Connie was a litte one. That was until, about 8:45p on Monday (September 27) when I received a call from my daughter informing me that Ellie had been found in front of our dog cages bleeding from the nose and mouth. Elizabeth said my wife was heading to Allied Pet Emergency here in Gainesville. The puppy was dying. I diverted my trip home from Boy Scouts with my son to follow my wife to the animal hospital. There were no indications of anything wrong with Ellie before that evening.

Dr. Prichard at Allied Pet Emergency tried to figure out what was wrong through x-rays. There was no evidence of any trauma, no swelling, bruising, or punctures. He inquired about "rat poison" but we don't have any around the home. Nothing was coming to mind. Her lungs were full of fluid and she was being given a very small dose of Lasick to try and dry it up. She was placed in an oxygen saturation chambe - her 02 saturation had dropped to 80%. We asked Dr. Prichard what he would do; he suggested we immediately transfer her to the UF Vet School where they had the tools and specialists to care for Ellie. He said he was very scared for our pup. They initiated transfer to the vet school with techs from the emergency clinic. Ellie passed away in route and was not revived (though they did administerCPR). The attending at the vet school student also suggested that Ellie might have chewed a power chord and electrocuted herself. When we returned home my wife and I physically checked the few electrical chords behind furniture in our family room (otherwise known as our dog room), and could not find any evidence of gnawing (though puppy teeth are very fine so it would be hard to notice).

Today in talking with Ellie's foster mom, Julia, she found some information that might point to some congenital defect that could have caused this to happen - either with her heart or neurological system. We're still in the dark on why she was taken from us so young.

What just puzzles us is there is really no indication of how Ellie became so ill so quickly. She was fine at 6:15p when I fed her in her crate and left for scouts, at 7:00 when my wife took her outside, and at 8:15 when my daughter cleaned up an accident . By 8:40 my wife was rushing her to the emergency vet and by 11:00p she was gone. This reminds me of when my daughter was born and she just stopped breathing - turned blue. She was revived but we never found out what caused such, even after all the blood work and doctor's care in the NICU. We're all befuddled and so deeply sad. I just don't know how this could happen when we've loved her so much and been so careful.

God rest Ellie - I'll see her again one day. And, until then, I'll miss her every day. She's now playing with Candy, Sugar, Duffy, Muphee, Laddie, Winnie and Camilla. Oh, what wonderful dogs I have had the pleasure of knowing.

[Click here for more photos of Ellie]