Monday, August 14, 2006

Old Friend

I forewarned you about my crappy time of year before. Other than the morose mood I'm in remembering my departed ones, I thought that I had gotten by relatively unscathed without a crisis this year. Alas, that's one of the foibles of having an old dog coinciding with a crappy season and other planetary transits.

His name is Zebo. He is a 14 year old shepard mix with an unusually beautiful face, body and demeanor. Dapper, really. I call him my Handsome Fella. If he had been a human male, he would have worn a tailcoat, tophat and gloves, sported a monocle, and would have carried a cane. Debra Plant, a friend who teaches Africana Studies up at the University of South Florida said, "He has deer feet".

He does have deer feet. They are small and dainty and cream colored as he's aged with his handsome face becoming more grizzled as we've aged together. My son brought him home from a friend's home where he'd ended up after having spent almost a year of his life tied to a tree because he was too big a dog to handle for the gentle little girl he was a present for. Feeling sorry for him, my son brings in this bounding energy of a bundle who when let off the leash runs and runs and runs and runs all over the neighborhood to make up for lost days being tied to a tree.

We eventually got a fence built and he would run the yard. His ability to open the gate and tear off on a neighborhood run earned him the nickname of Houdini as well. We would have to start up the car, go down the road and open the door. See. He loves him a car ride as much as he loves a run. You don't have to drive him very far either - just down to the bridge and back is a big deal.

His other hobby was attacking any wildlife he could catch and he was pretty fast. I was forever grabbing him up by the haunches with coon or possum attached in his mouth to make him drop it before he killed it. I think he had such a hate for them because when he was tied to that tree for all that time, they would taunt him just out of reach of his chain. Time after time, a fellow of even temperment could be justified in going a little postal on the arrogant critters that dared to come into his domain and within his reach.

The last few years he's slowed down tremendously as he developed a raging case of arthritis in his spine, hips and back legs. He's become totally deaf. He can't hear a word or noise like the pounding of lightning that would send him shaking up under me wherever I was in his healthy days. He preferred my sewing machine back when he could hear the thunder and once ruined a beautiful old Bernina I've owned since 1976 by laying on the pedal and 'sewing' until it seized up.

If you give him a hot dog, he will hold it in his mouth like a cigar, make it disappear into his maw and then slide it back out. He thinks this is wonderfully funny. He has a great sense of humor and would even wink at you! I quit giving him hot dogs because I felt the nitrates couldn't possibly be helping him any.

So. I was really concerned when he started laying around and quit following me from room to room as he usually did. Where I went, he was. Right up under foot. Phyllis calls him River Zebo because it got to where you had to manuever your way over him to get anywhere in my house when she comes to visit or I needed to go to the kitchen. He just hates getting up. And getting up and laying down and moving of any sort was painful. You could hear him moan, sigh and yip with it. Then he got to where he couldn't go up the steps without help. Now. This is a huge and painful undertaking for me since I have the human penchant for back problems and he is a really big boy. He started to fall down the steps and needed help up the steps, me working the back end and him crawling up in with his front. So I took him to the vet last Wednesday.

Dr. Marks tells me that his arthritis has gotten really bad and is pinching on the nerves in his body, which explains why he was peeing and pooping on the floor and then coming to get me to go out. He gave him a shot of cortisone for the arthur and some tablets for me to give him. I don't like cortisone. It did a number on my daddy's bones and I think that it's really hard on the body. Tary Peace, who's also a nurse confirmed this for me when I talked to her Friday. He was getting really bad, was in a lot of pain and panting to prove it.

So Friday he fell in the frog pond and I had to drag him out. This has hurt his dignity because he was always very careful about his composure and deportment. Then he got really, really bad and couldn't get up and didn't seem to want to. I gave him ice cubes and his treats, but he wouldn't touch his oats and honey cereal with milk which is his most favorite treat. His pain was very evident. So I talked to him. Like I wrote to you in the post Talking To The Dead, I practiced what I preached. I told him to let me know if it was time when the pain and the indignity and the effort to put one deer foot in front of the other.

That's why we visited the vet Saturday. I stayed in the room with him and held his face and looked in his eyes and told him I loved him when the vet gave him the shot. He just let go. No more pain. No more accidents he couldn't help and felt embarrassed about. The techs wrapped him up in his car riding sheet for his last ride home. Alan, my nephew came over and helped me bury him. I wanted to put him next to where Molly and Sugar Bear were buried but have let it grow up so much, I couldn't get through it.

So he's next to the mulberry tree with the jasmine growing in it. My heart is broken. I have cried and caterwalled and moaned and hurt. I will get no more dogs. Or cats. As I've gotten older and lost family members, it gets unbearable for any loss of someone I love. Those of you who have an animal will understand this. For those of you that don't get it, I won't even try to explain.

Now this is for you my good old friend Zebo. This is for all the times you laid your head in my lap when I was feeling bad, wagged yourself silly when I got home because you were genuinely happy to see me then cussed me out with loud barks for not taking you along. This is for all the silly and funny things you did that made the house feel full even when there was no one but me in it. This is because I will miss your gold, soft ears and black saddle to stroke when I'm having a rough time sleeping. I will miss you, my old friend.


Martha Marshall said...

Dear one, I am so sorry for your loss of Zebo Boy. We will all miss him.

Everyone who has been owned by a dog understands that completely magical spiritual connection.

Twin Roses Designs said...

Oh, Dina! I am so very sorry for your loss. I know there's nothing I can say or do that will ease this time for you, but please know you are in my thoughts and that I understand completely. Peace be the journey to Zebo. Andrea