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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Good Bye to You, Zoe

The best and worst part of being a dog owner is making the decision, towards the end, to be the best dog owner, the best companion, the best friend you can be. That decision comes with consequence but only you feel the aftermath, for she will be sleeping soundly, comfortably, easily for the rest of whatever existence she has.

We’ve had Zoe now for 15 years. She came to us as a 6 week old fluff ball of goodness. She slept in the nook of my neck until she got too big; she worked by my dad’s side, worked harder and smarter than any other dog we’ve seen; she was an instant celebrity when she visited me in Austin and once we moved to Salida, we were front page material as soon as we arrived.
Last March she lost the use of her back legs after years of accidents and consequential rehabilitation. She made her way around like a seal out of water until July, then, when I came home, with all of my issues, all of my tears, all of my regrets and the heartache that they caused in my life (namely the end of my engagement to Ryan O’Brien), she was there, needing my help, offering her assistance as only a dog can. I’d lay on the floor with her and cry, weep, sleep, and she’d just lick my tears and put her head on my shoulder. We got her a set of back wheels, not unlike a doggie wheelchair, and we set off everyday for two walks, one in the morning and one at night. With determination and massive consumption of dog treats, she mastered the wheels, she mastered trails and hills and pot holes like a cyclist. She goes up and down wheelchair ramps without direction, as if they were literally made just for her. She plowed through snow and made her way into the grand Arkansas River many a time to cool off.
Without her in my life upon my rocky return from Mali, without someone needing me, truly giving me a purpose, a reason to get out of bed, to get down stairs, to get outside by 6am every morning, I truly don’t know if I would be here. If a dog can do anything, it’s to give you purpose, to give you reason and legitimacy and absolute unconditional love. We have reached Zoe’s last leg (no pun intended) and this week, on a good day, we’re going to put her down, after 15 years of loyalty, friendship, companionship and absolute love.

It is my duty and my honor to help her find that simple sleep that will relieve her of all of her physical woes. It is my duty and my honor to be the best friend to her that she has been to me. To lay with her on the table while she drifts off is not only my worst fear but my biggest honor. She deserves peace and comfort and it is her time now.

I will always love this dog, Zoe. To my parents and brother and friends and family and all of those dedicated to the cause of Zoe, the goodness in her face, the sweetness in her step, thank you for your unequivocal dedication and support through this.

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