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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Remembering Elli

Regular readers of this blog know that our Elli was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure at the end of January 2011. She did very well on medication, but 5 weeks ago she developed inguinal hernia, which had to be corrected surgically. It was a high risk procedure because of Elli's heart problem, but she survived the surgery and for a while was doing well.

In the last week, however, she started to decline. On Thursday night she was in a bad shape - she was having problems with breathing and was becoming progressively weaker. There was no additional treatment available, and on Friday we decided to let her go and took her on the last trip to a vet.

I miss Elli terribly. In the last year she was my shadow, and I am not used yet to not having her around me. She was the only dog that slept on my bed. Many tears have been shed and my heart is broken, though it certainly helps to have her family around us - her sire Asko, half-sister Gilda, sons Billy and Bernie, granddaughter Keena, great granddaughter Paika and great-great grandoffspring Sky and Summer. So as some pointed out, it is very true that Elli is not gone - not gone from our hearts, and not even gone physically as we will see glimpses of her in her descendants.

I spent most of Saturday going over her pictures and videos, and I chose some to include here as they have a special meaning for me. 

It all goes back to "Kuba" (FC Zuzelek's Globetrotter SW 1991-2005), the dog I bred and loved like no other. He was not without his faults, and we used him for breeding only once. On January 18, 2000 Branie vom Dornenfeld produced 4 puppies sired by Kuba: Agata, Amos, Arko and Albrecht, and we decided to keep Agata for ourselves.

Agata v Moosbach-Zuzelek SW at the age of 4 months
All this was happening around the time when John and I were starting the North American Teckel Club, and we were trying to reduce the size of our dogs. While Kuba was a very handsome dog with correct proportions, he was also a big dog, and in his middle age his weight was around 27 lbs. Agata, even when young, looked like she was following his steps.

Then on May 12, 2000, a friend of ours, Duane Bush from Erie, PA, brought his friends Mike, Kathy and Michelle Vincent to our place as they were interested in a getting a puppy for tracking. The only pup left from our "B" litter (Skyder x Sabina) did not appeal to them as he growled too much at the end of an artificial blood line while defending a piece of deer hide. On the other hand, they liked Agata very much. A plan was developed to let the Vincent family have Agata on a co-ownership agreement until her first litter. We retained the right to choose a sire for Agata's first litter and we would get two pups. After that we would transfer Agata's ownership to the Vincents.

Agata went to live with Mike, Kathy and Michelle, and it looked like it was a right match. Deep down I had this ache that the only daughter of Kuba was not ours any longer. But I reminded myself that when you are a breeder you can't let you heart make breeding decisions. This is something that I still think about often.

For Agata's first litter we chose Asko von der Drachenburg, who was imported in 1999 from Germany. Asko is on a small size, under 20 lbs, and it looked to us like he was a really good match for Agata. Eight puppies were born on May 13, 2001, and Elli was one of them. When I went to McKean, PA to evaluate the pups, they were very young, just 8 weeks old. I could not decide which ones to take and decided to take one female (Elli) and two males (Elton and Erik).

July 9, 2001 - Michelle Vincent (left) and I (right) are holding three pups that traveled with me to Berne, NY on that day: Elli, Elton and Erik

Elli on her first day at her new home with us. What appealed to us about Elli's conformation were her long legs as our dachshunds tended to be too low to the ground. 

The three pups together: Erik, Elli and Elton, at the age of two months

Elton and Elli at the age of four months
In the end we decided to keep Elli and let Elton and Erik go to tracking homes. And the Vincents have kept Elli's sister Kirsche.

Elli matured nicely. On August 24, 2002 she was shown at the NATC Zuchtschau under Judge Wördemann, and her conformation was rated as "excellent". Her weight was around 20 lbs. She was a calm and relaxed dog, and her type was described as "elegant and strong". Her gait was ground covering. We loved her disposition, but her temperament could be described as somewhat soft. This changed subsequently when she matured fully and claimed her position as a leader of our pack.

Elli proved to be a talented tracker and excellent field trial dog. She finished her AKC field championship on May 8, 2003 (after her first litter of pups). We liked her responsiveness in the field and her working style. She would come back to the point of loss and had perseverance and determination to work out difficult checks. Her strong voice on rabbits was her hallmark. Elli's field trial career really started after her last litter and she was #3 field trial dachshund in the country in 2007 and #8 in 2006. She won three Absolutes, and earned 483 DCA Field Trial Merit Points.

She proved herself as a blood tracker with several difficult finds of wounded deer.

John with Arlo (elli's son), Jolanta with Elli
One unusual thing about Elli was the long interval between her heats. The first one came when she was 10.5 months old. When her second estrus came on January 2, 2003 we decided to breed her to Alfi von der Hardt-Höhe, a tough-as-nails, multititled male we imported from Germany. We ran this breeding three times, and altogether Elli and Alfi produced 26 puppies. She was an exceptional brood bitch and a super mom to all her puppies. 
  • 1st litter born on March 11, 2003: Archer, Attila (Bear), Asta (Emma), Augden (Auggie), Arlo, Acorn (Zora), Amy, Anja (Dixie), Ariel
  • 2nd litter was born on February 08, 2004: Baldur (Blitz), Bastian (KC), Billy, Bodie, Boss (Daryl), Brix (Toby) and Bonny
  • 3rd litter was born on October 15, 2005: Darin (Bernie), Dylan, Danica (Dita), Danka (Maggie), Dee (Blaze), Demi (Cretchen), Diestel, (Anna), Drossel (Della) and Dyani

Of the 26 pups, 25 went to blood tracking homes. Eight were field trialed and became AKC Field Champions. Some have been very successful in other performance events; good exmples are Sherry Ruggieri's Auggie (two times winner of the Buckeye dachshund Club Invitational trial) and Dixie. We could probably write a book about Elli and Alfi's offspring. Five of them have been used for breeding and subsequently have passed "a piece" of Elli to next generations.

She raised not only her own puppies but was good with other females' pups too. She could put a stop to puppies' foolishness and pushiness with one stare or quick gentle nip. They would get a message right away.
Elli has aged with grace. Her favorite spot was on the top of the old picnic table in our dog yard, and from this place she was monitoring the situation while basking in the sun. Her favorite dogs were her son Billy and Joeri, for whom she had a special affection. To the very end she loved running rabbits in our field, and our last outing took place on December 31.

I will miss Elli's soulful eyes as they followed me everywhere.
I will remember Elli mostly as my personal companion. We had together such a good time: Our walks in the field, her almost constant presence at my feet when I was working, her routine of putting me to bed - licking my face before I turned the light off.

Good night Elli, sleep tight.

PS. After Elli's death we received  numerous letters and notes from our friends and people who knew Elli. There are too many to post them here so I will just include several.

1. From Sherry Ruggieri

Your post on Elli was wonderful and it is difficult for me to type through the tears, I can only imagine the pain you are suffering. I am so deeply sorry. As you know, I was especially fond of Elli – she will always have a special place in my heart. She not only produced the dog that I love beyond words, Auggie (I love Dixie too), she reminds me of what a wonderful dog should be. I am proud to say that in many ways Dixie is so much like Elli, wonderful temperament and in looks too – with that beautiful face and soulful eyes. I have many wonderful memories of Elli – especially the time when I was visiting and she “claimed” me – she was such a loving dog. I also got to watch her in the field and saw (and heard) some beautiful runs! I remember too when I was visiting and you took me to the beagle club there – she ran with Auggie – she took one rabbit all over – it was lovely! I also remember her outrunning both Auggie & Dixie at field trials – they could never match their mom!
I wish there were words to say to take away the pain you must be feeling and the loss. I know the deeper the love, the deeper the loss and that it why it is so heartbreaking. I will always remember Elli and she will live on through her legacy and our memories – it’s just a shame they can’t live longer than they do. My heart goes out to you.

2. From Mike Martien

Just a quick note to let you know that your loss has been on my mind… My deepest sympathy on the loss of Elli. I was saddened to hear the news. I found the following, and refer to it from time to time. I guess the quote (unknown) is about as real and true as it gets…
There are things that we don't want to happen but have to accept, things we don't want to know but have to learn, and lives we can't live without but have to let go. Death is unavoidable and a given, however, love and relationships create memories that death or no other can ever steal.” R.I.P. Elli…
Take care and may God speed the healing process and fill the void.

3. From John Merriman

I'm so sorry to hear about dear Ellie's passing; she was an amazing dog and I will always remember the great runs she had--especially with Buzz. I bet they are having a great time with rabbits in Heaven right now, with God finally yelling "pick them up" when they are happily exhausted from hunting!
Please let me know if there is anything I can do ... You and John will be in my prayers and Adam sends his best.

4. From Michael Polavin

Jolanta & John, so very sad to hear about Elli. You mentioned "an amazing legacy" Elli has left. As you know my dog Maggie is one of those 26 puppies that make up Elli's legacy. Maggie is in a working home and has most definitely changed this owners life. The absolute joy I see on hunters faces when she recovers a deer that they couldn't find. I too consider Maggie a great hunter, however it's so many of the other personality traits that Elli passed on to Maggie that makes her such a true companion and part of the family.

Thank you Elli.
5. From Henry Holt
I'm very sorry to hear about Elli Jolanta. She produced some great dogs including the one sitting in my lap.

We have a beautiful spot on our farm where we bury our dogs that we visit often. There's a bench there and in the spring there are daffodils and a grove of redbud trees I started from seed. I hope you have a place like that for you dogs too.
May she chase rabbits forever in her dreams.


Jules said...

I'm very sorry to hear about the loss of your lovely girl Elli, but thank you for sharing the wonderful story of her life.
Basel, CH

Jolanta Jeanneney said...

Thank you Julie for reading and writing. I can't believe that Elli's story reached Basel.

Anonymous said...

The Ocetniks feel your loss! Such a nice description of Elli and your journey together.

Teddy said...

The best ones hurt the most to lose. Sorry to hear about Elli.

MTWaggin said...

What a lovely girl and such a heart felt tribute. What a blessing to have such a wonderful heart dog.

Samantha said...

I am very sorry to hear of the loss of your Elli. She was such a beautiful dog. I cannot imagine the pain of loosing such a great friend, may her memories comfort you. I am sure she now wears a set of wings that were earned over her years with you!

Anonymous said...

Deepest sympathies to you and John.

Karen, Bob, and Elli's granddaughter, Nadina

Brian said...

Sorry to hear about your friend Elli. Thanks for sharing her story.

Anonymous said...


Sorry about Elli. I know how much Gerti means to me. She's always within arm's reach. I can only imagine your pain right now. We'll be thinking about you.

Chris and Gerti.

Claire said...

Only the most loved can hurt us so when they leave. I am so sorry for your loss. She looks like she was a big happy part of your lives.

Lindsjö taxar said...

I´m very sad to hear about Elli. A tear fell on my cheek. Thinking of my Nova.
Some dogs are very special to you and you feel a bid loss. But now she´s tracking white deers at the Rainbow bridge

David B. said...

I'm sorry about your loss. If it wasn't for Eli alot of good dogs wouldn't exist, including my Quella, a great granddaughter like your Paika. I'm very greatful for what you, John and your breedings have done

Jolanta Jeanneney said...

John and I thank you all for your sympathy and support. We miss Elli and it will be a long time before things go back to "normal". Thank you so much!

Mike said...

I'm so sorry about your Elli. What a beautiful dog.

mirjam said...

and her story reached me in Zurich Switzerland aswell.
i am so sorry the hear about your loss, she will be waiting for you on the other side of the rainbow bridge.

Jolanta Jeanneney said...

Thank you Mirjam. It would be wonderful to meet with our loved ones on the other side of the bridge, wouldn't it be?

mirjam said...

yes, Jolanta, it would make the loss of a loved animal much much easier. death would be just a temporary good bye...