We will never know exactly how long Rescue Dog, Painter, Comedian and Cancer Conqueror, Elsie brightened our world. We do not know her true birthday, but we know she was reborn in 2006 when she was adopted by devoted dog mom, Tanya Turgeon. With that in mind, Tanya fittingly tailored her memorial Facebook post to her beloved companion around the dates June 19, 2006 and March 8, 2016 – the day they first met and the day they said their final goodbye.
With her signature brand of optimism and wit, Tanya chronicled Elsie’s joyous exploits and medical woes in a way that made dog lovers smile rather than weep. She focused on the positive aspects of each and every adventure they shared together.
When Elsie was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer, they embarked on a bucket list adventure any dog would drool over. The white muzzled Pibble enthusiastically shredded a piece of paper scrawled with the word “Cancer” in black Sharpie. She tried hotdogs and visited the beach. She met fans as she rode to and from her treatments in her cozy stroller.
When her appetite began to wane in her final days, Tanya posted an adorable snap of Elsie with yogurt on her nose captioned “What? There’s something on my face? Where? She will have the last laugh. Always.” No matter what came their way, Tanya and Elsie faced it together with positivity and joy.
Elsie began her life as a breeding dog before finding herself on the streets of New York City, alone and ill. She was rescued by Manhattan Animal Care and Control, then saved from death row by a volunteer. Three years after meeting Tanya, Elsie was diagnosed with mammary (breast) cancer. Thanks to some help from the Humane Society of NYC, Elsie beat the odds and survived.
Grateful for Elsie’s extraordinary life, Tanya found a creative way to give back to the facility that performed the life saving surgeries on her cherished pup. Knowing that she loved to carry items in her mouth, Tanya handed Elsie a paintbrush dipped in pink paint – the signature color of the fight against breast cancer
In 2011, at the age of 57-dog-years, Elsie began her career as a professional painter. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of her work was donated to the hospital at the Humane Society of New York. Elsie was a progressive artist. She used her tail, paws and nose to create her masterpieces along with her brush. You can see Elsie in action in the trailer for the upcoming documentary, Becoming Elsie about her life and times.
Tanya and Elsie didn’t stop their campaign of gratitude with painting, though. In 2012 she delighted the children of the Big Apple Circus’ After School Program in East Harlem with her impressive tricks and stunts. The following year Elsie appeared with Broadway star, Nellie McKay in an Animal Care and Control ad to advocate for the adoption of rescue dogs, especially in regards to misunderstood pups like Pit Bulls.
More than 3,000 Facebook followers shared in the laughter, hope, pain and struggles of Tanya and Elsie’s final journey together. Now that she has passed, we remember her with fondness and appreciation for the lessons she has taught us. Thanks to Tanya and Elsie we will all squeeze our pups a little tighter today. We will all give thanks for each day of health we experience. And, hopefully, we will all continue to work for the good of all pups, inspired by Elsie’s legacy.
Tanya’s tribute post says it best:
Featured Image via Something Elsie/Facebook