After Nellie joined our pack things felt balanced. There were two blue dogs, me and Nell. There were two old dogs, Nellie and Jack. Me and Tess were the two young dogs affectionately called the Evil Twins.
How we moved was balanced too. I travel at the speed of light. Tess runs a close second but can’t ever catch me. Jack will trot, but only when he thinks there’s something to eat. Nellie wobbled as fast as she could on her old worn out legs. She was the caboose to our train.
Nellie was always getting lost because she couldn’t keep up. As slow as mom tried to walk, it wasn’t slow enough. Nellie would look right, mom would move left, and quick as that Nellie was lost.
Mom got into the habit of walking our route twice, once to show us where we were supposed to go and a second time to fetch Nellie.
Nellie had an uncanny ability to get herself into hopeless situations. Once when she still moved pretty good, she wanted to sniff real close to the fence. She lost her footing and tumbled down a bank to where the fence met the ground. She got stuck on her back with her feet up in the air.
Mom searched for a long time before she figured out what happened to Nellie. Then it took her and dad together to pull Nellie out of the ditch and hand her up the hill to where she could stand on flat ground.
Tess thought the whole thing was hilarious. Jack went in the house and pretended it wasn’t happening. I was worried sick about Nellie. Funny thing is Nellie wasn’t upset at all. She was real grateful to be right side up, but never complained about being upside down in the ditch.
After her second vertigo attack, Nellie started getting lost in the house. She’d get stuck in a corner all wrapped up in lamp cords. She would stare at the mirror and wonder why everything looked backwards.
As Nellie got more and more confused, me and mom spent more time looking for her. Sometimes we found her stuck under a bed. Another time she wandered into the bathroom and the door closed behind her.
Tess has the best nose and could easily have found Nellie, but she didn’t want to get off the couch to help. Since I’m always with mom, we formed a Nellie search and rescue team.
Sometimes I’d be sniffing in the yard when I’d hear mom yell, “Where’s my baby?”
I’d come running to mom and together we’d look for Nellie. If we didn’t find her right away, mom would say, “Ash, find our baby!”
When we finally found Nellie, it was always the same. Mom would kneel down in front of Nellie, hold her head real gently and kiss her snout. Then she’d grin and say, “Here’s our baby!”
Nellie told me even though she was deaf she could hear what mom was saying. I asked Nellie what she heard when mom said “Here’s my baby!” Nellie laughed and said she heard love.
Last night me and mom took a walk together. We went down by the little barn where all the varmints hang out. We walked all around Asherpark and looked at the stars. Suddenly mom knelt down next to me and whispered in my ear, “Ash, where’s our baby?”
It wasn’t a question that required an answer. We both knew Nellie had crossed the bridge. We just want her back.