In a touching tribute posted on Facebook, the sheriff's department admitted they didn't know Ellie Mae's exact age—"We're not quite sure of her exact age"—but praised her understanding of gates and her work with children. From Facebook:
She could always sense when [children] were in her presence and took extra caution when they were around. Ellie had many riders in her lifetime, both inexperienced and veteran. She always seemed to know when a rider needed her to take charge and always took great care of anyone who was on her back. Ellie had a special ability concerning gates. There literally wasn't a gate made that she couldn't open!
Deputy Randy Garner owned Ellie Mae and worked with her on the Mounted Patrol for more than 25 years. Ellie retired this past April and moved to Kentucky, where she lived with Garner's daughter, Amanda, and her family. KFOR reports that Garner was with Ellie when she died peacefully on Tuesday.
[There was a video here]