The Biggest Dog I’ve Ever Known

It has been two weeks since Mom and Dad’s Poodle Ernie Nelson passed away.

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Ernie was Mom’s friend.

This was the beginning and end of Ernie’s Purpose in Life.

If he had been Mom’s friend and no more, he would have lived better than almost any creature on earth.

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Ernie was Dad’s friend too.

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Everyone who knew Ernie loved him.

Ernie was entertaining.

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One year, Ernie and his friend, our lab mix Ebony dressed up as fancy Poodles for Halloween.

Ernie was  a preschool student. He had his own rug that was rolled out for him when it was time to do his work – usually chewing a chewy, while the children worked at their rugs and tables around him.

Ernie was a preschool teacher. For half of Mom’s career in Montessori education, Ernie taught alongside her, and even the now grown three, four and five year olds who shared a classroom with Ernie remember learning from him and with him. Children loved him. Their siblings loved him. Parents and teachers loved him.

Ernie believed in his family and never gave up on them. When my daughter Amanda (now 13) was an infant, Ernie started bringing her his ladybug toy in her bouncy seat. He continued bringing Amanda his ladybug toy until she was a toddler, old enough to be able to throw it for him.

Ernie was a singer. When Mom played the piano or we sang “Happy Birthday” Ernie would join in.

Ernie was the favorite Nelson kid. My brothers and I were okay with it. We loved him too.

Ernie was inspiring.

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Ernie was a picture book star.

Ernie was a Christmas ornament.

Ernie was my muse.

Ernie Dog is Happy on Riley and James – the story of when Ernie ran out of treats and a kind person at Hill’s Pet Nutrition came through for him

Ernie Dog on Omaha.net – the story of Ernie’s neurological crisis four years ago

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Ernie made everyone feel good.

Just a few days ago I received an email from Dr. McGill, veterinary pathologist. He asked to put an email I had sent him about his kindness in assisting with a case in which Ernie had a benign mass on the ARUP website. I said yes, of course. Dr. McGill said every time he reads that email, he is proud of the work they do.

Ernie made me a better veterinarian.

He needed his first dental cleaning under anesthesia at two years of age.

He developed an awful bacterial ear infection at ten years of age. It took the summer, but Ernie healed.

He had a difficult dental extraction just this year. Dr. Kanne helped me plan the extraction and even enlisted the help of a veterinary dental specialist.

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Ernie Recovering

Ernie needed me on his very last day, and I have never had a more difficult end of life visit ever. Later, in some years, I will be proud. Right now, I am only overwhelmingly sad.

Ernie was super cute.

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Ernie was sassy.

Ernie wore a black spiked collar.

Ernie loved ladybugs as much as Mom does.

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Ernie was at every party and gathering Mom and Dad had, including the joint party to celebrate Dad’s 70th birthday and Mom’s retirement a few weeks ago.

Ernie was a heartbreaker.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I would rather have a broken heart now than never have known you at all.

We all would buddy.

You were the biggest dog I’ve ever known.

Ernie Nelson, I am so lucky to have known you and to have called you my friend.

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10 Responses to “The Biggest Dog I’ve Ever Known”

  1. Sandy Wray says:

    Shawn, What a wonderful tribute for sweet Ernie. He touched so many lives and we are all better for knowing him. I am so thankful that I got to know him when I could doggie sit with him. Ernie loved his pillow cuddled up next to me. He always made sure that I had six treats lined up for him. I know that he is pain free, running, playing and waiting for when we can cuddle him again. My deepest sympathy to all of Ernies family and friends. Hugs and Love to all the Nelson’s. Sandy

    • Oh thank you Sandy! It was so good for Ernie to be able to stay home with you and with Aunt Becky. You are right – we are all better for knowing him. How could I forget – Ernie counted. What a great little dog! (((hugs)))

  2. Robyn Colgan says:

    Ernie was a very special part of my son Cade’s school experience! HE is 15 and in high school now but will always fondly remember Ernie. He loved having him lay on his rug while he worked and sing along with them at line time! Having Ernie in his preschool classroom was a calming force for Cade and something that made him look forward to school each day. He helped him get past some separation anxiety and enjoy school. Ernie was a good school counselor too! So glad to have our little Harley who looks so much like Ernie! Thanks Ernie Nelson! You will be missed!

  3. Liz Eckermann says:

    Ernie was by far one of my most favorite overnight guests at the petshotel. I loved getting him out and taking him with me to do chores. He was a good little helper when it was time to pass out dinners or check water bowls. If I could’ve taken him home with me instead of keeping him at the hotel I would’ve. It’s amazing how those little fur kids have such an impact on our lives! Rest in peace little Ernie dog! You will be missed :-)

    • Aw he loved being with you and everyone at the PetsHotel Liz! I love that he got the big suite with the cot and the Disney movies. And that his tiny feet hardly touched the floor cuz you were spoiling him <3

  4. bob nelson says:

    In my lifetime, I never thought I would own a poodle. Then along came Ernie…and I was right, I didn’t own him…Mom did. They were inseparable and it was perfect. They knew everything about each other and comforted each other always. He always acknowledged my presence because I lived with Betsy…but there was no doubt where Ernie wanted to be…anywhere Betsy was. All that has been said and written about Ernie is true. He was a great companion, teacher, teacher’s pet, cheerleader, playmate and hero. He was so much bigger than his 4 pounds…but he was comfortable with who he was. We are so fortunate to have enjoyed his companionship for as long as we did. But, without hurting my feelings, he made it clear that he was Betsy’s soul mate…and I am so happy he was. Love, dad

  5. Well said Dad! I think Ernie loved you more than he wanted to say out loud :)

  6. Raven says:

    It’s rare to have such an amazing companion in life (human or otherwise). Ernie was obviously a very special soul and you’re all fortunate to have shared your lives. You wrote a wonderful tribute to him.

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