18/2/2001 - 24/7/2001

Elliot spent the first 10 years of his life in various animal shelters in Germany, waiting for adoption that never happened. After all that time he had become grossly overweight, badly arthritic, scarred from old battles, blind in one eye, missing most of his teeth and in general a very old and tired dog. However, in January 2001 a new animal shelter called Tierschutzverein Franziskushof www.tierschutzverein-franziskushof.de obtained him, and they decided to advertise him in a TV programme called Tiere zuchen ein Zuhause that is shown every Sunday in the German WDR channel. The programme with Elliot came out in 18 February 2001.

By that time, I had just moved to The Netherlands, and as it happens that Sunday was the first day I had a TV to watch. I was just surfing through the channels when I happened to get to the German WDR channel, and started watching the animal adoption programme just for fun. There were a lot of very nice and very adorable dogs there, but then in came this fat, blind old boy that could hardly move for all his arthritis (even his tail moved only about 2 cm each way although that didn't prevent him from wagging it all the time) and yet had the sweetest smile you can imagine a dog having. Basically I fell immediately madly in love with him! However, I reasoned I couldn't adopt him because I didn't have a proper place to stay yet - I was renting a small student room while searching for an apartment - and besides I already had two other dogs that were still staying with my parents in Finland until I would find a place where I could bring them. But still, I couldn't forget Elliot and kept thinking of him all the time

After about a week I finally broke down and had to write to the shelter where he was, sure that a) he had been already adopted and b) they wouldn't give him to me in another country anyway. But no, Elliot was still there, and they would be more than happy to give him to me. After another day or two of thinking I decided to drive all the way to the shelter in Germany (about 250 km one way) just to see him; not to adopt but just to see... Well, suffice it to say that when I arrived and saw how extremely pityful he was I just couldn't leave him there: I threw caution in the wind, signed the adoption papers and packed him in my car to go finally home.

That was the best decision I've ever done. Elliot really proved to be the dog of my life, although we were only to have four short months together before he had to go again. Elliot settled down in domestic life right after coming home, although I don't think he had ever had a home before. I put him into a diet and he lost very nicely weight. We started walking many, many short walks every day and he gained muscles where he previously had none. He learned to climb and descend stairs with my help and even jump into the car (he would happily jump upwards and totally trust on me catching him halfway and lifting all his 30+ kg the rest of way up because he didn't really have enough power in his legs to go all the way himself). As he was half blind and quite deaf, we had to find new ways for communication and I swear he could read my thoughts if I was intense enough. He loved to go for walks in the forest nearby, or spend a sunny afternoon lying on the grass in our nearby park while I was reading a book beside him.

He loved his food, and he loved his new life, and I loved him very, very much.

Elliot turned out to be a seriously funny personality: he had a great sense of humour and loved pulling his little jokes with me. At the same time, he had the most amazing dog sense I've ever seen; he was immediately the king of all dogs without having so much as to lift an eyebrow to others. He would have been a really great service dog if somebody had trained him from his youth, as he had iron nerves and a very calm temperament combined with a strong sense of loyalty and protectiveness of his human companion. But most of all, he trusted me 150% in everything and was always content with me no matter what.

Unfortunately, our time together was to be short, and after only four months, two weeks and two days I had to let Elliot go. He had hurt his leg while running in forest (this from a 13-14 year old previously immobile dog, by the way), and was put to Rimadyl while waiting for the operation to fix it. I only gave him four little pills, but that was enough to kill him: it turned out that Elliot had had a beginning renal disease and Rimadyl poisoned what was left of his kidneys.

Suddenly my cheerful, happy boy turned back into old, tired man but nobody knew what was going on. When the vets finally discovered what was really wrong with Elliot, it was too late and the only decision I could make was to set him free.

It is over a year after Elliot's death, but I still think of him every day. I carry a locket around my neck with his pictures and a small silver bottle in my pocket with a little of his fur in it. I have now three other dogs with me and love them very much, but Elliot will always be the Dog of my Life. He was just a very special gentleman, and I am honoured to have known him even just for a little while!

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