Ellie’s a life-changer

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About this J.P. Dog:

Ellie Mae, who sometimes goes by BooBoo or Stinky Face, is a 5 year old rescued American Staff / Jack Russell mix. “In May of 2010, I was finishing my junior year of college and convinced my parents to let me adopt a dog to train over the summer and bring back to school with me the following fall semester. My mom even made me sign a contract guaranteeing I would be responsible for the dog’s care and wellbeing. Little did she know what bond was about to form between me and my first dog. (Continue for 7 more amazing Ellie photos, and the continuation of her beautiful story…)

“So on May 9th , I visited the Pulaski County Humane Society in southwest Virginia in hopes of bringing home a new furry friend. As I walked through the rows and rows of dogs, the shelter worker had me stop at the kennel of a little white puppy named Shakira who was jumping up desperately trying to get my attention. She and her brother had been abandoned outside the shelter doors a couple weeks prior. Her story of neglect and abuse was heartbreaking and all too common. I was told she’d be hard to adopt out because she was a pit bull, and they’d likely have to euthanize within a week or two.

Though I was convinced I didn’t want a dog her size or one with short, white fur, and definitely not a pit bull (I was guilty at the time of believing the stereotypes), I hesitantly decided to bring her out to the play room for a meet-and-greet. Then this sweet, hyper little puppy took a break from bouncing off the walls like a tasmanian devil and sat on my lap. My life was changed forever. Having done nothing to earn the love and trust she was already showing me, I realized I was meant to meet her that day. She was already my dog. She was my dog the moment she saw me walk into the shelter. She chose me.

A name-change and car ride home later, we started our life together. I thought I had saved her by bringing her home. I planned to teach her things…that she would always be safe from fear and hunger now that we were together; that she did, in fact, have the ability to “sit” for 0.2 seconds before getting a treat; that contrary to grandma’s protests, she WAS allowed on all the furniture, etc.

Turns out, she was the one who was saving me. I was amazed at how much I immediately came to depend on her for the happiness she brought me. As much as she needed me, I needed her even more. And she taught me about the most important things of all – true love and compassion.

About this J.P. Dog’s human: 

Ellie lives with her human, Helia, near Centre Street, where they’ve lived for six months. “After a really difficult rental housing search because of her breed, it was time to skip all the landlord nonsense and find a place of our own. Now we don’t have to deal with ignorance determining where we can live.”

Helia did her thesis about the importance of quality photos of shelter animals to increase their odds for adoption. Here’s the presentation she shared at the Massachusetts Animal Coalition meeting last year.

Does your J.P. Dog have any funny quirks, odd behaviors, or defining characteristics?

Her signature lounge position is on her back with her legs sticking straight up in the air. I’m convinced she’s just not 100% dog…maybe part cat, part lamb, part muppet.

Ellie’s nighttime ritual is also bit ridiculous – I kinda kick myself now for ever letting her sleep on the bed with me. As I write this, I’m thinking of how much I would discourage any pet parent from giving in to a dog that behaves this way and judge myself for spoiling her, but it’s easy to give your own fur-children a pass. Ellie will whimper and paw at the covers until I lift them up for her to crawl under and burrow herself in the middle of the bed. Yes, she needs to sleep under the covers. If I don’t do this, neither of us will sleep because of her persistent protests. Eventually I’m able to fall asleep after contorting myself around her to get comfortable. And every night, I’ll wake up sometime between 2 and 5 am with absolutely no room because Ellie has slowly inched herself closer and closer to me, and of course in my sleep I keep moving over to give her more space. Suffice it to say I haven’t slept well in 5 years, but I’m too used to her being beside me to change things now!  

What do you love most about your J.P. Dog?

I don’t know how to summarize what this dog means to me. Because of Ellie, I got involved in rescue work back home in Virginia, started a photography business focused on helping homeless dogs get adopted, and moved to Boston for grad school and hopes of a career in animal welfare advocacy. I didn’t know these possibilities existed, and while it’s been a really bumpy ride with many detours, Ellie changed the course of my life. What’s not to love?

Your J.P. Dog’s favorite outdoor spots in J.P.?

She loves romping in the pond when it’s warm out and recently discovered Peter’s Hill at the Arboretum… so many yummy things to roll in and tarnish that pristine white coat.

Anything else you’d like to share about your J.P. Dog?

I will forever be grateful for the infinite ways Ellie has changed my life. She’s now an ambassador for one of the most misunderstood, neglected, and discriminated breeds in recent history.

Photography: Ellie’s human, with exception of one photo by Kaylee Greer of Dog Breath Photography 1610851_1485425108386692_9207807231530641003_n

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