Grief is sneaky. You believe that you’re doing ok with the loss of your pet and then BAM, out of nowhere you see his toy, have a memory of something silly he did or walk by his favorite chair and you are in pieces all over again. It is a cruel constant reminder that your buddy is gone. Then you start reliving his last days and restart the entire process of questioning if you did the right thing.
But I do know I did the right thing. Diabetes was tough on Zack’s 12 pound, 14-year-old body. He died almost exactly 2 years since he was diagnosed. Other than the insulin shots he received twice a day, which he hated, and a treacherous bout of pancreatitis last summer, he was still a happy, silly dog who begged for treats and attention. Out vet at Detroit Dover Animal Hospital did a great job of helping me and my family help Zack through the last two years and I will forever be grateful.
On January 10, 2017, Zack was no longer himself. He declined quickly since the day before and kept vomiting and was incredibly weak. He no longer responded to me, but scarier, he wouldn’t eat chicken, his favorite thing in the world! My boyfriend Dave and I took him to the vet and we knew it was time. Out vet confirmed our fears and warned he would not make it through the night. His organs were shutting down and while he was not in pain, the inevitable was coming.
I held my boy and told him how much he was loved and that I was so sorry. Dave told him he was a good boy as Zack slipped away. No preparation can prepare anyone for the wave of grief that slams you like a hurricane when you lose your friend. We spent more time with him and struggled to leave him there on the table. Wrapped in blankets and resting. Gone.
Zack and Zoe came into my life 14 years ago at 8-weeks-old. I was divorced for a year and just purchased a condo. The next obvious step was to get a dog, or two. I lived in Akron and worked in Cleveland so two dogs that could keep each other company seemed appropriate. Through a series of fortunate events, I found someone with a litter of Yorkie-poo’s. I had first pick of the litter and was going to get two females and name them Thelma and Louise!
I love telling the story of how one little male pup would not leave me alone. He was cute and bouncy, but I wanted to look at the females. He wasn’t having it. His persistence made me open my mind and before I knew it, he and I were picking which sibling would be coming home with us. One female kept crawling into my lap – Zoe still does that now.
They went on to become Z&Z and made my quiet home so much more fun. They moved to Manhattan with me, then Hoboken, then back to Ohio, then into my boyfriend’s house with him and his four kids. I cannot believe how adaptable Z&Z have been to every change I’ve thrown at them. New York was the biggest adjustment for all three of us. But Zack made friends everywhere he went. Zack ignored that unwritten rule that when walking down the sidewalk in New York, stay out of everyone’s way. When someone was walking towards us, Zack would get right in their path, stop, stare up at them, wag his stub tail as if to say “Hi, I’m Zack!” Even the most curmudgeon New Yorker couldn’t help but smile every time.
All about Zack:
In his younger days, he licked the air, constantly.
He loved to roll in goose poop.
He would pretend to pee in order to get treats, and yes, I enabled him.
When his sister would try to fight him, he would just try to get away, he never fought back.
When I would stay up late and everyone else went to bed, Zack would stay up with me.
He loved his toys when he was younger, especially a worm that he would always destroy. I still have a small inventory of them.
He loved to run outside.
He didn’t like the cold. If he got too cold outside, he would just fall over in the snow and wait to be rescued.
A priest who had been watching me play with Z&Z at an NYC park came over and blessed Zack. I had to ask him to bless Zoe too. I didn’t raise them catholic but we appreciated the gesture.
He let me dress him up, as anything.
He was a professional snuggler.
Other dogs always seemed to pick on him for some reason. But Zack was a lover, not a fighter.
He had several names: Zachariah Mufasa, Wacky Zacky, Zackadoodledoo, Burt Zackawack, The Zackinator, the list goes on.
When Dave cooked, Zack was always at his side.
He hogged the bed.
His farts were brutal. It was almost impressive that such a little body could create that level of stench!
All these habits and idiosyncrasies made up the best little guy in the world. Everyone thinks their dog is great, but as I always told him, “Of all the Zack’s in the world, you’re the best one!”
I’m so grateful that he picked me and that I had 14 great years with him. Zoe, and I and Dave and his kids are going to have to move into a new normal that doesn’t include Zack constantly begging for treats and insisting on sitting next to you on the couch to snuggle, which we gladly obliged. For now, I will try to combat the grief and its stealth surprises by loving Zoe and knowing that Zack will live on through everyone who met him.
Run free sweet boy.
PS – Last night I stayed up late by myself and Zoe got out of bed to be with me.