Ellie had to sit out the Christmas party because she was in full season, and that makes life rough for even the noblest of her male friends. Ellie's friends are mostly working dogs with careers to attend to.
Fortunately for Ellie's friends, the fact that Ellie is on the sidelines doesn't mean that she isn't still on the job, operating from behind the scenes. What she does is to continually check things out, making sure no one is getting into any trouble. At that December obedience demonstration, for example, there was one child who became momentarily frightened, and his lower lip was starting to tremble, because he thought he was lost. Ellie said, "Oops!" and attracted the child's attention. He came over to Ellie, got a lick and a pet from Ellie, and giggled because the beautiful dog had made friends with him. That meant that Mama and Papa didn't have to console an upset child, and that in turn meant that they were free to keep their attention on the stars of the show, who were educating the public about the extraordinary abilities of dogs.
Ellie is opinionated about dog behavior; she's a mother and has had to raise some unruly sons. That's why she ended up refusing to allow Bobbe Morris, her owner, to let Morris' house guest, 2-year-old Fallon, play with a new toy dog. Fallon had just been given one of those toy dogs that bark and run around when you clap your hands, and then stop barking and stand still when you clap again. To the Morris family members and their friends, the dog was a delightful toy, but to Ellie it was just more nuisance barking. Since Bobbe Morris is a volunteer animal control officer, Ellie goes "Oops!" when she hears nuisance barking, because she knows that dogs who are ignorant enough to do nuisance barking can end up in the pound. She learned to turn the toy dog off by barking at it.