Traveling through Life Together

The Adventures of Ellie, the Golden and Andrea, the Person

Ellie and I do almost everything together; we are rarely apart. So much so that when she’s not with me, people ask, “Where’s Ellie?” I love having her with me; when she isn’t, I miss her energy. We are getting older together, too. So far we’ve been lucky health wise. 

Ellie attracts attention wherever we are — waiting in line, sitting at a restaurant, walking in the park, shopping, in an airport. Wherever and whenever, people are drawn to her, and she to them. I have to add that she is beautiful, and I’ve learned that beautiful people and things actually attract a certain kind of attention. I’ve gotten used to it. 

Ellie has an equally big personality, and is very smart. She is an experienced traveler, accompanying me on frequent trips between Portland and the Bay Area, sometimes by air, sometimes on the road. Ellie moves expertly through airports, and is a pro at being a well-behaved passenger — people hardly know she’s there. She always knows where we are — recognizing the people, the parks, every rest stop, and all our routes. She has developed habits, routines, and places she likes every place we go. It amazes me how she remembers.   

She loves to walk on the Google campus, especially on weekends when we have the place to ourselves. We run around, jump in the ponds, and hang out on the colorful tables and chairs. Sometimes we watch as tourists pose for pictures in front of the Google signs. I want to take pictures of them taking pictures. 

While I mentioned we are both healthy, I do have one glitch: I’ve had one form of breast cancer or another for 25 years. I have been treated at UCSF, and regardless of where I live, have stayed with my medical team. There is no rhyme or reason why I’m still alive — they say I’m a bit of a medical anomaly.  

Ellie has been part of my cancer experience every step of the way and has always been amazing during rough treatments. She’s always given me reason to get up and out to walk with her. Her needs don’t change, and that’s been good for me. 

A year ago I was diagnosed Stage 4, which changed my plans a little. I had to think about what would happen to Ellie if I died first — something I’d never considered. I had never doubted my survival before, no matter how tough things got. This time I had to. It’s weird. I finally asked a dear friend who is crazy about Ellie if she and her family would care for her if I died. Of course, she said, yes. I knew Ellie would be loved and safe, and I was relieved. 

We visit the beach at Chrissy Field at Golden Gate Park after my monthly medical appointments. Being in that open space together is fun and a terrific counterpoint to the doctors and medical centers. If I didn’t have Ellie in my life, I wouldn’t have the same compelling reason to go to the beach and play. Ellie’s joy, chasing the ball in the ocean, is infectious and makes me happy. Her personality and character give me so much life, and I know I make her happy too. We are safe together, traveling through life whatever it throws our way. 

Oh, and I’m happy to say: I’m doing really well — we both are. 

Andrea is crazy about Ellie. In one of her former lives she opened the pearlretriever dog shop in the Pearl in 2004, and the dog-loving social network in 2007 (now owned by Spot). Andrea and Ellie live in Portland.