In Susie’s memory

— File photo by sketch by Ray Ellis

To the Editor:

In August of 2009, a yellow lab who was estimated to be about nine years old was brought into the newly formed Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard. She had been a service dog, had been retired at seven, and was brought to the Island to live with a family. Her name was Susie, and she was in very bad condition with hardly any fur, infected flea bites, and tumors.

Because the shelter was just starting out and funds were limited, the then acting director, Lisa Hayes (now the permanent director), put a small article in the local papers appealing for money for Susie’s rehabilitation. Some $5,000 was raised, and the Susie Fund at the shelter was off and running. Since we had read the article and made a contribution, we stopped by one day to meet Susie. We fell in love and continued to visit her.

By October, her fur had begun to grow back, the fleas were gone, thyroid problems had been remedied, and the tumors, which were benign, had been removed. She was ready for adoption, and we were going to be her lucky parents.

From the day she came to live with us, she never did anything wrong. She couldn’t bark due to paralysis of the larynx; she didn’t drink out of the toilet or get into the cat’s litter box; and due to her service-dog training, our parrot could walk right in front of her, as could squirrels, rabbits, and birds in the yard, and she never moved. She was a steady, sweet, and very loving presence in our lives for three and a half years.

It was obvious to us over the past few weeks that she was just wearing out. Her dignity was being compromised, and numerous hot spots were not healing and were painful. We made the difficult decision to put her to sleep on March 13. Her old friend Lisa Hayes was with us bearing yellow tulips for our yellow girl, and all the staff at Animal Health Care who had been so good to her over these last years came in to say goodbye to her. She passed away very peacefully, but for us the void is enormous.

Lisa reminded us, though, that her legacy lives on in the Susie Fund at the shelter and her appearances on behalf of the fund at the Edgartown Christmas parades. Money that is donated to it will be used to rehabilitate other animals who are brought in needing expensive medical care. Please consider donating any amount in Susie’s memory to the Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard, P. O. Box 1829, Edgartown, MA 02539. The shelter cannot exist without our help. Thank you.

Ray and Teddie Ellis