Monday, July 14

Adios, Big Guy... Rest in Peace.

My sister just called me to tell me her gigantic dog, Zeus, died. He was a big, gentle, Great Pyrenees who I admit, always got in my way because he was immense, about 100 pounds. I always joke that he should have a saddle. But regardless, he was a nice, calm dog and my sister loved him to pieces-- he was a stray when she found him about 5 years ago. At 11:30 tonight the vet called her to go to say goodbye. Zeus gave her his paw to hold as the vet injected him to put him to sleep, her choice so that he didn't have to suffer what probably would only have been hours anyway. So needless to say she is distraught beyond words. And I know what she is going through and it feels terrible.

So we were on the phone talking and I got emotional thinking about my own dog, Zorro, who I got from the Humane Society in 2002, where he had been taken in as a stray. He was a pomeranian mix and had been very neglected, his teeth were broken and was a little mangy-looking, but hokey as it may sound, he connected with me during our visits. I remember how angry I got when they told me he hadn't been neutered--they estimated he was around 8 years old, which means some cheapskate never bothered to get him fixed in all the years he owned him. The day I went to pick him up one of the workers there thanked me for choosing him-- he was on death row and scheduled to be put down that week. He had been there so long and nobody wanted him. I felt special, like there was a reason I connected with that particular dog. Turned out that dog loved me- followed me everywhere and when I took a shower he waited for me on my bathmat. When I scrapbooked in the basement, he parked himself next to me on the lineolum floor. In fact, it was Holy Thursday when I went to buy him a piece of carpet to lay on so he wouldn't be on the cold floor in my scrapbooking area. When I came home he had gotten sick and had an accident. When I scolded him he just looked at me. I picked him up and he snuggled into my lap and I called my husband down and told him "Zorro is dying." I just knew. He took him to the hospital and I took my daughter to Holy Thursday Mass and when we got home, Zorro was gone forever.

So I know my sister's pain. I know crying for three hours, bawling into my pillow at how unfair it was that I only had him for 6 months. How unfair that I didn't get to say goodbye. I know the pain that feels like you are losing a human being- a family member. And lucky for me, everyone close to me at that time understood what that felt like, because almost everyone I know has a dog. And when I woke up the next morning, unable to open my eyes from all the crying I had done, and I realized that my Zorro was still gone, it hurt all over again.

People who don't have pets have no idea what it is like to consider a pet as a family member. You feel helpless when they are sick, you are nervous for them when they get their shots, you worry if they dash across the street if they will get hit by a car, and sometimes, you worry someone will want to steal them. You buy the best food to keep them healthy and supply them with toys and their choice of sleeping area, you brush them and dress them up in Eagles jerseys. (Ok, that may just be me.) But you love and care for them like a child, and you get back from them what you get from a friend. Their love is unconditional- they just need some food and water but they will love you if you forget. They love to be pet and stroked, but they will be there for you anyway if you don't pet them. They will alert you and protect you, comfort you and entertain you. They love it when you come home and are sad when you leave. So how can you not feel like a member of the family has died when your pet leaves this earth?

You can't.

So, may Zeus not have been in pain in his last hours.
May Zorro know that I loved him, even though I didn't get to say goodbye.
May they know each other in heaven and become friends.

We used to get Zorro. It searches the SPCA's and rescues to find you a dog. We also got our Zorro look-alike, Sammy, from a shelter- he was a Katrina rescue who still had no home 7 months after the hurricane had hit Mississippi. Please don't rule out the great pets you can get from rescues and SPCA's and give a dog another chance.

We have three dogs now- Sammy from Mississippi, Rico, who had been adopted after being abused, and Rosie, from a breeder. They drive me crazy with all of their noise but I love all of them.

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