The last post that I did like this, I wrote that I had a feeling that I would be doing many more of these before my time on this world was up. There are days when I hate being right. Zoe was a good friend to me. She wasn’t the kind of friend who comes over and brings you a cold drink when you need it. She wasn’t the kind of friend who you could nerd out with your newest games with. She was just a friend who put her head on your lap and looked up at you, just glad to see that you were there. Zoe, Shield Maiden of the Homestead, was my dog.
Confused about the name? Well, Zoe is a pure-bred lab. Pure-bred dogs have to have titles. Since neither of the parentals were good at thinking one up, they put the task to me. Same with her puppy, Riley. I had just watched the Lord of the Rings movies, so I thought of a name that was regal and whatnot. She was a gift to the family after I had surgery. Cervical fusion. C1-C3. The most unpleasant operation of my life, following an accident that has defined my outlook on life, forevermore. She was such an excitable puppy. She had a bit of a problem of peeing on the floor whenever people came home. She just got so happy. We trained that problem out of her by adulthood. She wanted to be everybody’s friend. Much to the chagrin of my cat and confidant – Lizzy. Lizzy brutalized that puppy, to the point that even as an adult, who could bite her in half, she was afraid of her. A trait that carried over to her puppy, Riley, when he tried to be her friend.
If there was a more friendly dog, I can’t think of one. She was everybody’s friend the moment that she met them. Hitler and Stalin could come in and she would try and be their best friends too. I loved that quality. Since the parents live out in the country, long walks around the woods were a favorite activity of hers. Sometimes, she had a bit of trouble coming back when called. The adventures were just too fun.
Now, while I say that she was given to me, the truth is that she wasn’t my dog. Very quickly, it was the father-unit, Dave, who she bonded with. Make no mistake, she was HIS animal. Went absolutely everywhere with him. Working in the garage, she was there. Working outside, she was there. In the plow truck clearing the road in the middle of winter, she was there. She went absolutely everywhere with him. He would complain, but the truth is, I think he liked having a little helper go everywhere with him. One of my fondest memories from the old house is how I knew who everybody was by how they walk. Since the basement was my favorite place to hang out, I could hear everybody walking around upstairs. Sally (the mother-unit) had a slow and monotonous walk. Not in a hurry to get anywhere. The Sister had an angry walk. For real, even her walk sounded pissed off. I refuse to believe that she has arches on her feet. But with the old man, everywhere he went, there was the clickety-click of doggie feet behind him. For a while, it was Zoe, but then there was Riley.
Riley is her puppy. He has been such a momma’s boy. He doesn’t appear all sad, but then, dogs process death different than people. I envy that about them sometimes. Everywhere that Zoe went, he wasn’t far behind. If she got attention, he had to have some. There was a constant competition to see who got the old man’s lap while he would watch the news or TV at night. But the neatest thing to me was when, even though he was so much bigger than her, when Zoe got pissed at him, she could run him down and throw him over, showing that he may be bigger, but she was top dog. Given how large he got, that was so neat to see.
I got a call a couple months ago that it was confirmed that Zoe had cancer. In her lymph nodes. Not a good way to go. She was having a hard time breathing. When I got home from college for the summer, I got to hear how labored it was myself. That was hard. Her death was nowhere near easy. She still seemed happy, but she’s a dog. Dogs always seem happy, if people are being nice to them. And we were. By the end, her sense of smell was gone, her eyesight was getting really bad and her breathing was like the bellows. We knew that it was time to put her to sleep.
I couldn’t be there when it was done. I had to be at work. We all have to earn money, right? Been thinking about it all day. I get home, hearing that it was done. Part of me is glad that I wasn’t there to see it. Too cruel a thing, for me.
When I was a kid, I used to think that animals all had a kind of sacred place that they go when they die. Some kind of place that only they can find. Since the parents used to say that none of the cats that they owned died at home, I figured that when they got old, they went off to find that sacred place. The final resting place of their kind. I don’t believe in God or anything, but part of me still wishes that I believed that. And that maybe, someday, I will go to that place, and find my friend again. If there is an afterlife, I have a feeling that there is a ton of nature to explore.
That’s all I have to say, really. I lose one more friend. A friend who I’ll never get back. Lately, I feel so alone here. Alone, forevermore.
Normally, I close these things out with a quote from the person who passed, but this was a friend, and I don’t have a quote by them. So, I will use a quote about the species. Goodbye, my friend. I hope that you are in a better place, even if I don’t believe that.
Until next time, a quote,
“Happiness is a warm puppy.” -Charles M. Schultz