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Ellie, the Love Bug

 

The other day, when I was driving home from the drug store, the front of my left foot started to cramp out of nowhere. It didn’t impact my driving, but stretching my toes didn’t help, and even the walk back up to the apartment didn’t make it go away completely. The pain was just annoying enough to make me wonder what I might have done to cause my foot to cramp. Was I doing ballet in my sleep? Have I been pointing and flexing my toes without realizing it?

As soon as I got inside, the dogs were desperate to get outside, so Mom and I leashed them up and followed them out the door. I wasn’t watching the dogs closely, because I was too preoccupied with my own thoughts, about ballet and such, but then Mom pointed out that Ellie was limping and I looked up in time to see Ellie hopping around and then flexing her leg back into an arabesque – her left rear leg. The same foot that was bothering me.

I picked her up and touched her paw, to see if she had something caught between the pads (because Butterfly used to get pieces of kibble stuck in her paw on a regular basis), but there was nothing obvious there. Ellie gave a little shriek when I touched her toes, though, and pulled her foot away. I put her back down on the ground and she proceeded to run, hop, stretch, run, and jump in quick succession. She stretched her left leg back in the arabesque position a few more times but then she put her foot down with her full weight on it. She wasn’t crying as she walked on it, so I left her to finish her dancing and peeing and then led both dogs back into the apartment.

Once inside I figured I could get a better look at her foot if I was sitting down on the couch. Thank God it wasn’t Cricket, because she would have ripped off my hand before letting me touch her foot. Ellie is much more trusting, or at least tolerant. I held Ellie in my lap and picked up her left rear paw to examine it more closely, and that’s when I saw the blood. Some of the blood had rubbed off on the top of her right rear paw, but the wound was clearly localized on the left paw. Mom brought out a damp wash cloth to dab the blood away so I could see what might have caused the injury. I worried that one of her paw pads had gotten cut, or that she had glass in her paw, and I started to catastrophize and plan ahead to calling the vet for an emergency appointment and… Mom calmed me down and continued to dab the paw until I could see more clearly. There was no obvious cut, and I couldn’t see any foreign objects, no glass, or pebbles, or needles, or anything else. Mom found a piece of sterile gauze in the medicine cabinet and managed to wrap it around the top of Ellie’s foot and tie a little knot. Then she suggested that we wait and see if the wound was still bothering Ellie after an hour or two, because Ellie wouldn’t thank me for dragging her to the vet just for a scratch that could easily heal on its own.

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“Can I have my paw back, please?”

And mom was right: the bandage came off quickly, and the bleeding stopped even quicker than that. Within an hour, Ellie was back to her usual cheerful self, with no sign of an injury. I kept an eye out for the rest of the day for any possible delayed reactions – severed ligaments, swollen ankles, blood, tumors, etc. – but she was fine.

Which left me time to contemplate the weirdness: why did I have that random pain in my foot right before Ellie had an injury in the same freaking foot? Is this some new form of ESP that psychics forgot to mention? Am I the dog mommy of the year – literally able to feel my baby’s pain? Or was it just a silly coincidence that I should ignore, and maybe make sure to do my foot and leg stretches more regularly?

I have no idea. I prefer the magical explanation (for everything), so I tend to over-compensate and be very skeptical of magical explanations, and try hard to find a rational explanation instead. And there’s always a rational explanation available. But…

I think we are all connected, and I think love connects us on an even deeper, more unfathomable level. And I think, maybe, that this was a sign that Ellie and I have found our wavelength, not just because I happened to be lucky enough to be on a call list when Ellie needed a home; not just because she’s cute and lovable in a generic way; but because we’ve done the work to get to know each other.

me and the girls

Cricket has her very own wavelength.

Ellie has become more and more of her own self over time, sleeping flat on her back with her legs in the air, speaking with her own voice (louder and louder as time passes), and running with her own unimaginable joy as she tries to chase the mourning doves as they escape up into the trees. She is a love bug, burying her head under my chin, leaping up for scratches and hugs when we’re out on a walk, following me everywhere (but especially to the kitchen). She loves me, she loves her Grandma, and she even loves Cricket, who sort of, maybe, tolerates her in return.

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This doesn’t look comfortable to me, but Ellie loves it.

I’m not saying that I want this connection to continue to express itself in foot pain, in fact, I’d rather it find a nicer vocabulary in the future. But it means something, at least to me.

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“We don’t believe in this…stuff.”

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Amazon page and consider ordering the Kindle or Paperback version (or both!) of Yeshiva Girl. And if you feel called to write a review of the book on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish girl on Long Island named Izzy. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes is true. Izzy’s father decides to send her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, as if she’s the one who needs to be fixed. Izzy, in pain and looking for people she can trust, finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?

 

 

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

84 responses »

  1. I don’t know Rachel, but I think Ellie would suggest more running, hopping, stretching and jumping to relieve the pain. I do love the coincidence of you both having left foot/paw pain. There is a connection somewhere, Dog Mom of the Year! Yes, you are….

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  2. Definitely, dog mom of the year… long before the foot pain. I’m so glad that Ellie’s better. One of our dogs slept the same way. He also broke his pelvis,which took weeks to heal. It’s so hard to see them suffer. Especially with how much they love us unconditionally. Hugs to Ellie and Cricket!

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  3. hard having
    a body!
    may they get
    well stretched 🙂

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  4. Not unusual at all. My left knee ached the day Laila had surgery.

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  5. I’m going with psychic dog mommy!

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  6. As long as you don’t start looking like your dog, you’re OK.

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  7. I prefer the magical explanation,too 🙂

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  8. We’ve encountered those foot problems with our dogs. It turned out many times to be cactus thorns. You should check for that, there’s the Lon Gisland prickly pear.

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  9. I believe in this “stuff” and I think you and Ellie have an amazing connection. And this whole post made my heart smile, except for the parts about blood and pain, that is. I think I seriously love Ellie (and Cricket – well, I had a dog named Cricket when I was a kid, and she was the best)

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  10. Connected, yes, definitely ! Ellie’s on a secret mission to make you happy that’s for sure, so you’d better listen to what she has to say. Really enjoyed reading this on a rainy Sunday morning. Thank you Rachel 😃

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  11. I love how you write about Ellie. She’s in your heart now.

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  12. My new word for the day is ‘catastrophize’. Thanks, Rachel!

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  13. ESP or not, you are clearly a good dog Mom! ❤

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  14. I have never experienced ‘sympathetic’ pains because of Ollie. But I never cease to be amazed how he knows when I am unwell, or have the tiniest scratch or injury. When he detects something like that, he refuses to leave my side.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  15. There is definitely a connection between you and Ellie which will deepen even more as time passes. So, is there such a thing as coincidence? BTW, have you checked her toenails? Lexi limped and shook her foot for a couple of days before I realized she had torn it back at the quick.

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  16. Sure hope her paw heals soon. What animal likes the vet?

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  17. So lovely Rachel. Definitely on each other’s wavelength.
    Maggie yelps for no reason sometimes, but we think it’s because as her muscles relax, she develops twinges like we do with arthritis and pinches a nerve.
    Ellie and Cricket are both so lovely.

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  18. Sounds like sympathetic pain to me.

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  19. Keep an eye on the paw. Sometimes dogs lick or chew at their feet, out of nervousness or anxiety. I was dog sitting my neighbor’s chihuahua, and he literally chewed his paw raw before his people came to pick him up. This was when Huny, his very good friend, was alive, too; so it wasn’t anxiety from the boys who tend to overwhelm him. His mistress said that Taco has a habit of nibbling at his feet and the vet said it’s just a personality tic. And it sounds like Ellie is relaxed and comfortable (the sleeping on her back with belly exposed means she trusts her environment and people around her). But a bloody paw is concerning. As to YOUR own foot pain, hey! It’s not out of the realm of possibility that you picked up on Ellie’s pain before consciously you saw it.

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  20. My husband took the dog’s arthritis medicine one morning, though I don’t think it was because they were connected! Fortunately it had no effect, not even barking. My therapist’s dog does that flat on the back all feet in the air to reassure me that it is very very safe in the room. I appreciate that she tunes into me.

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  21. My granddaughter is also named Ellie, so I feel the tug of your love. I am also “Momma” to two young dogs who feel so much like our babies. Ellie and you are so lucky to have each other!!!

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  22. I’m glad Ellie is well.

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  23. I think dogs are easier to read than cats. You might try your psychic power on a feline.

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  24. I vote for dog mommy of the year!!

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  25. We are definitely connected to our pets! I know someone who went to a massage therapist at their home. The woman’s cat would lie on the part of the client’s body that needed attention!

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  26. Definitely Dog Mom of the Year ♥ Possibly the same wavelength too 🙂

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  27. I’m glad your sweet Ellie is ok. That picture of her on her back is so cute! She’s looks about as relaxed as a dog can get. She’s a happy, well loved girl… As it should be. 🙂

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  28. Just in time for Mother’s Day from the fur girls! Happy Mother’s Day- you are the BEST!🐕🐕🐕

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  29. Aww poor little thing, I’m glad it didn’t seem to be anything serious. Hope her paw continues to heal. You’re right, a very strange ‘coincidence’ with your own foot, but hey, the universe works in mysterious ways…!! xx

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  30. Glad the fur baby os okay..My Buster is same way, he hates his back feet being touched.

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  31. That is so strange. I wonder what she did to get cut? I’m glad her foot (and yours) is doing better!

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  32. Ellie and Cricket are such cuties! I hope you and Ellie are both feeling better now.

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  33. I’ve heard stories like this countless times, it’s usually the animal picking up on the human pain though! Guess you’re beautifully connected to those pooches of yours! ❤ (And I always go for the magic!!)

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  34. She is adorable. I’m so glad she’s ok! And I do believe when you’re really linked with another soul you love–you can be enough of an empath to anticipate something about to happen.

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  35. Sweet story. I’m glad it wasn’t anything serious. I will check your book out on Amazon. I love to read as well as write too. 🌻

    Reply
  36. May you and Ellie have no more foot pain… though as you say, the connection is sweet.

    Reply

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