Ella: In Memoriam
Ella, the proud, gentle, irrepressibly curious Harrier hound, died yesterday. She was closing in on 12 years old. Many of you lived with Ella at some time or another, or cared for her, or cared about her. Many of you asked after her recently. Many of you who knew her, loved her, or knew that we did.
Ella was a gift. Literally. She came to Paul, all floppy ears and loose limbs, the day he passed his oral "qualifying exams." It was a preposterously imbalanced exchange – a classic something for nothing – up there with the Louisiana Purchase. She was actually born – or, as Helen has always liked to say, "that bitch was whelped" – in Ukiah, California on September 14, 1994. She lived in Oakland and Berkeley most of her life and summered in Santa Barbara. She came to Hollywood in 2001 and was a star along canyon trails and the flatlands of the Miracle Mile. The farthest east she ever made it was the Tehachapi Mountains, high above the Mojave Desert, where she barked at a motionless tractor and got chased by ducks and chickens, and where, one icy Thanksgiving eve, she cartoonishly chattered her teeth and slept in the bed with mom and dad for the first and only time in her long life.
In her younger years, Ella fancied a stuffed dinosaur, a peculiar homemade sock toy, pig ears and – especially – her own poo. She liked to sleep on her back, arms aloft, legs spread wide. She was scared of balloons. She was fond of cheese, especially English Cheddar. Not the swimmer her younger sister Daphne already is, she nonetheless loved to be near the water. Her happiest times were on the low bluffs above the San Francisco Bay, or the beach in Santa Barbara, wind whipping her ears back, an impossibly wide grin, running. In recent years, she slowed down a bit, though only a little, trotting from room to room, bed to bed, sighing.
Ella was named after Ella Fitzgerald, a seemingly odd choice for anyone who ever heard her atonal whining. But that voice, like that of her namesake, was full of life, of expectation and wonder and joy, and in that way was beautiful, too. It, and she, will be deeply missed.