Her name was Ellie Mae. She had a black face with two tan eyebrows that moved with her every expression. Ellie rode shotgun in my truck each day of her life.

I was at a wedding last week. There was a small reception with cocktail weenies, cheese plates, and an ice sculpture.

Instead of a DJ, there was a band from a local high school. They had long hair and various chains on their body parts. Their music was a cross between 80’s progressive punk, and a nitroglycerine truck colliding against a 747 taxiing on the tarmac.

In the middle of the evening came my favorite portion of any wedding reception: when the tipsy brother-of-the-bride gains control over the microphone.

Others took the stage after him and began sharing memories, offering toasts.

One gentleman picked up the mic and delivered a memory about being a college roommate of the groom. Four hours later, he finally got around to his toast.

Next, a young woman took the stage and read a speech that was written on a stack of notes the size of a term paper.

Then, the father of the bride told a story about when the bride was a girl. It was a sweet memory. He talked especially about a beloved member of the family, a deceased Redbone Coonhound named “Turkey.”

The man talked about this dog as though it were a blood relative, he covered the highpoints of their lives with the dog.

He talked about all the times that Turkey begged at the table, or when Turkey learned how to “load up” in the truck, leaping into the passenger seat.

The times spent walking through the woods with Turkey beside them. And the day Turkey died.

I listened, but I wasn’t thinking about Turkey. I was remembering a black-and-tan bloodhound I once loved.

Her name was Ellie Mae. She had a black face with two tan eyebrows that moved with her every expression. Ellie rode shotgun in my truck each day of her life.

When I went to the store, she went to the store. When I went to work, she went to work. When I camped, so did she. When I ate a hamburger for supper, she ate the burger and fries, I ate the ketchup packets.

And every night after dinner, I would wrestle with her. She loved to wrestle. Her mouth was so big, she could fit my entire forearm in it.

That eighty-pound girl could’ve torn off my arm if she’d wanted, but she would’ve never done that. She would only place a gentle mouth over my arm and pretend.

That dog went to work with me in the daytime. At night, she waited in the truck when I played music at saloons and sports bars with various bands that played very loud music.

And on breaks, restaurant employees fed her. A dishwasher, a cook, or some dog-loving waitress would visit my truck and give Ellie a to-go box of pulled pork.

The dog was the mascot of my entire life. And still is.

She was the first face I saw in the morning, and the last goodnight lick I received. Not a moment goes by that I don’t remember how courageously she hobbled into the veterinary clinic to meet her end.

She knew why she was there, but she was not afraid. Even though her owner bawled, she was calm.

I wish I could be half as brave as that dog.

The man with the microphone wished the young couple well. Then he raised a glass and proposed a toast to the late Turkey.

The whole room held champagne flutes high.

I raised my aluminum can as high as it would go.

And it was during this moment, the old man on stage motioned to the back of the room. Two boys came forward with a box, wrapped in shiny paper, a ribbon around it, and air holes in the sides.

The father said to the bride: “We took the liberty of getting you and your husband a housewarming gift.”

The bride opened the box to reveal a pair of redbone-colored ears, and a slender hound face. The woman in the dress lifted the little puppy into her arms.

Applause filled the room.

The dog’s name isn’t official, but there was a strong petition for the name “Wishbone.”

People passed Wishbone around the room, and I waited until it was my turn to hold her.

When I got my arms on the dog, I kissed her, and I remembered the way I once held a bloodhound I knew. I remember the smell of dander, and the gentle mouth clasped on my arm during the throes of wrestling. I remember too much.

“That’s a real sweet pup,” said one man beside me, shouting over the music.

I looked into Wishbone’s little eyes. I could swear I saw the eyes of an old friend.

“Ain’t she pretty?” said the man.

Well, if you ask me a dog is more than pretty.

A dog is proof that God loves us.

43 comments

  1. Janet Mary Lee - January 19, 2019 7:33 am

    Okay, so I am sobbing and remembering some pretty special 4 legged loves of my own. This was one of my absolute favorites!! Bless Ellie Mae, I know she is looking down at you…her best loved human. Love never never dies!!! And neither do they.

    Reply
  2. Sherry - January 19, 2019 12:17 pm

    Dogs sometimes are the only thing that makes life worth living….

    Reply
    • chesterthedumpdog - January 19, 2019 6:24 pm

      Sherry, you are so right. During my life I have loved a dog when I couldn’t love people.

      Reply
  3. Jean - January 19, 2019 12:20 pm

    Ellie Mae hopefully will be waiting in heaven with all your loved ones and as for me, I hope my long gone fur babies will be there too…especially one named jeannie.

    Reply
  4. Jill - January 19, 2019 1:01 pm

    Could never be more proof.

    Reply
  5. Barbara Bray - January 19, 2019 1:10 pm

    Eyes burning again…you sure know how to jerk the heart , Sean.

    Reply
  6. Martha Owens - January 19, 2019 1:13 pm

    So much truth in your message! My special four legged canine companion of 14 years passed away in November .The days that followed were sad and empty. Several weeks ago, I came across another four legged companion, who has added purpose and happy times again. She’s not at all like her predecessor, but so special in her own right. Life is full of ups and downs, but so much better with our canine family members!

    Reply
  7. Connie Havard Ryland - January 19, 2019 1:34 pm

    Sweet and true. As the tears pour, I sit here with my two little rescue babies asleep in my lap. We may have given them a home, but they fill our little house with love and laughs. We are the winners.

    Reply
  8. Sheila - January 19, 2019 1:40 pm

    “A dog is proof that God loves us.”. I’m sharing that quote on Facebook. Giving you the credit of course. We love our dogs don’t we! Bless you Sean

    Reply
  9. Alice - January 19, 2019 1:44 pm

    What a wonderful story and I had to get out the Kleenex out! thank you Sean and God bless you love you and your stories

    Reply
  10. Polly Spence - January 19, 2019 2:21 pm

    I also had an Ellie, but my g’boy’s name was Cook. Not long ago I was meandering an antique shop filled with lots of beautiful, highly polished pieces of furniture but what caught my eye was an old piece of wood hiding in a corner that had a quote scribbled in red sharpie by what looked like the hand of an old man that had once had a Turkey. The quote reads: ‘God said “I need someone strong enough to pull sleds and find bombs, yet gentle enough to love babies and lead the blind. Somebody that will spend all day on the couch with a resting head and supporting eyes to lift the spirits of a broken heart.” So God made a dog.’

    That ol’ piece of wood now hangs on my back porch where Cook spent most of his time, doing most of just that.

    Reply
  11. Liz Watkins - January 19, 2019 2:21 pm

    Love your stories about Ellie Mae! I had a Lillie Belle! Now I have crazy Mazie!! I love dogs!
    Great story!!
    Go Saints🖤💛🖤💛🖤💛

    Reply
  12. Terri C Boykin - January 19, 2019 2:30 pm

    Love you much Sean.

    Reply
  13. Karen - January 19, 2019 2:35 pm

    ❤️😢

    Reply
  14. Peggy Savage - January 19, 2019 2:59 pm

    Amen and amen…

    Reply
  15. Edna B. - January 19, 2019 3:18 pm

    You’re absolutely right, Sean. My little Pogo is my joy! I’m not sure who rescued who, but I’m sure glad God sent him my way. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  16. muthahun - January 19, 2019 3:18 pm

    well damn… and that’s just the God’s honest truth, Sean. (and the music being “a cross between 80’s progressive punk, and a nitroglycerine truck colliding against a 747 taxiing on the tarmac” is pretty spot-on, too!)

    Reply
  17. Courtney Roberts - January 19, 2019 3:41 pm

    great post—i miss my dog too—he was happy ALL the time and he taught me a lot about how i should treat others….

    Reply
  18. Chuck Gerlach - January 19, 2019 4:00 pm

    Sean said: “A dog is proof that God loves us”. And I say: AMEN ! AMEN! and AMEN !!!!!!!

    Reply
  19. Anne Greaves - January 19, 2019 4:05 pm

    Angels in fur coats 🐶❤️

    Reply
  20. Linda Chipman - January 19, 2019 5:38 pm

    I still remember my Collie named Mike I had as a little girl and all the others since then. Over 60 years’ worth. Each and every one was special in their own way and truly proof that God loves us.

    Reply
  21. Sandra Smith - January 19, 2019 6:16 pm

    God’s TRUTH !!!
    💝💝💝

    Reply
  22. Minnie Bourque - January 19, 2019 7:15 pm

    Amen,Sean! From one devout dog lover to another! What a fabulous wedding gift!

    Reply
  23. Diana Sarafin - January 19, 2019 7:23 pm

    Doggonit Sean you did it again, made me cry remembering all my furkids whom I loved so much. You’re a good man Sean, a very good man.

    “Well, if you ask me a dog is more than pretty.

    A dog is proof that God loves us.”

    Reply
  24. Cathi - January 19, 2019 8:08 pm

    If they’re not the first thing to meet me at the Pearly Gates, there’s gonna need to be some ‘splainin! I have loved so many dogs in this life, I can’t imagine they won’t be there. And I know Ellie is waiting on you too. The ugly cry, AGAIN!

    Reply
    • Minnie Tate Bourque - January 19, 2019 9:05 pm

      Oh, Cathi, we are kindred souls. I had the ‘ugly cry’ while reading Sean’s piece; then I had to cry as I thought of all my precious 4-footeds who would be awaiting my arrival. Happy Days!!

      Reply
  25. Johnny - January 19, 2019 8:10 pm

    AMEN AND AMEN!

    Reply
  26. Shelton A. - January 19, 2019 8:56 pm

    You try to love all your dogs the same, but one always stands out as your best dog. Mine was Gabriel. I know how you feel, Sean, believe me, I know.

    Reply
  27. Debbie Britt - January 19, 2019 9:08 pm

    ❤️

    Reply
  28. Jacque - January 20, 2019 2:41 am

    You have had me in tears. Such a beautiful story about the wedding, Turkey and your Ellie Mae. One day I hope to meet all my furbabies who have crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I am blessed to still have 5 wonderful dogs in my home and life at the moment and I cherish every minute they are with me. .

    Reply
  29. Judy Broussard - January 20, 2019 2:49 am

    Amen

    Reply
  30. dogsdolls - January 20, 2019 3:48 am

    I love your last line…dogs are proof that God loves us. I said good bye to my beloved boy August 1. Not a day goes by that I do not think of him. Thanks for feeling the same.

    Reply
  31. Helen - January 20, 2019 4:39 am

    This post made me cry. I cried earlier today when I heard that Boo the Pomeranian had passed away.
    Wish our sweet fur babies could live forever.

    Reply
  32. Heidi - January 21, 2019 12:41 am

    Bawling once again over your memories of Elli Mae and my Gracie Lou. Even though we have new fur babies we still grieve for the old. We have been so fortunate to be loved by such as them.

    Reply
  33. Mary Ellen Hall - January 21, 2019 1:17 am

    I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this story Sean!! NOTHING BETTER than getting a puppy on your Wedding Day!!
    I LOVE that her Daddy remembered their BELOVED Turkey n his speech!! Evidently Turkey was a HUGE part of their lives!! I can understand how Turkey reminded u of your BEAUTIFUL Ellie Mae!! Such a HEARTBREAK for u!!!
    Also reminds me of us having to put down our BEAUTIFUL Chocolate Lab.-Sundae!! We MISS HER EVERYDAY!!
    But; we now have A BEAUTIFUL, ACTIVE Chocolate Lab, named Nestle, who we LOVE DEARLY!!!
    THANK YOU AGAIN Sean for your SWEET, AMAZING story!💙❤

    Reply
  34. Bob Hubbard, Sr. - January 21, 2019 2:29 am

    And I am firmly convinced that my Cassie will meet me when I cross over the river Styxx at the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.Despite what many preachers say that dogs don’t go to heaven. ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN, leading me to worry about some preachers…..

    Bob Hubbard, Sr.
    Perry GA

    Reply
  35. Patricia Gibson - January 21, 2019 8:14 pm

    You are so right! Dogs are God’s blessing!

    Reply
  36. Janie F. - February 19, 2019 7:57 pm

    Your Ellie Mae was such a blessing. I cried like I knew her reading this story.

    Reply
  37. Kathryn - February 19, 2019 8:31 pm

    I lost my little 4-pound toy poodle, Sassy, 3 weeks ago. I only had her for five years, but it only took five minutes for her to wedge her little self into my heart. You see, Sassy was originally my Mama’s dog until my Mama passed away 5 years ago, extracting a promise from me to “take care of Sassy.” And I did just that, but have realized in the last few weeks how much Sassy took care of me.

    I agree, dogs are proof that God loves us, because sometimes humans really don’t deserve them. Dogs’ lives are just too short, their only fault in my eyes. Now, I need to find the Kleenex.

    Reply
  38. turtlekid - February 19, 2019 8:38 pm

    👏👏👏😢😢😢💚💛💙💜🧡❤️

    Reply
  39. Alice - February 19, 2019 11:36 pm

    As usual Sean you managed to touch my heart and make me cry❤️Love your stories love you God Bless you❤️

    Reply
  40. Melaney - February 20, 2019 12:09 am

    A little Scottie puppy named Belinda simply saved my life❤️ I believe

    Reply
  41. Grace - February 20, 2019 12:52 am

    Oh Sean I recently had to put down my sweet Sammy almost 16 years, a cat. He was so smart and boy there isn’t enough hours in the day to tell you how he was loved and all the stories about him except he thought he was human , but than we raised him up to be one. Miss him so much . I would love to have one more day of him walking me to the door when I left and greeted me when I came iin at the door . Can’t go on I’m crying too hard.

    Reply

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