Ancient History

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She lived 11 years, 11 months–how seamless and poetically perfect, meant-to-be in so many ways…

Zelda was born on October 30, 1992, according to the pet shop at the mall. Early December 1992 I was strolling the halls of our small-town mall, flush with tip money from my waitressing job at River City–I had delivered many burritos and beers and breezy small-talk for my wad of cash. I was taking a semester off from college, living at home. And what our home needed was this particular puppy. She was hopelessly tiny, with honey-floppy ears and big brown eyes. I couldn’t take a dog home…what would my mom and dad think? I had matured enough to realized that permission ought to be granted.

Silent and a few vocal prayers flew and permission was granted. She was meant to come home with me–how odd, how wild! She was my first dog, and I was convinced (and still am) that she was a gift from God. Somehow I had managed to live 21 years without being called “dog-owner”. I drove back to the mall, hoping she was still there. She was waiting for me. I paid $129 cash for her, which some contended was a ridiculous amount for a mixed-breed mystery dog.

On the trip home, she curled herself into my lap and shivered. My Subaru hatchback was brittle on the warmest of days, and that December night had a bite I won’t forget. As I drove my groaning car, I thought of names for the bundle in my lap. It was a time in my life when I had a passion for all things 1920’s–flappers and Fitzgerald, Louise Brooks, bobbed hair, grandma-as-a-girl-gone-wild. The name Zelda seemed perfect–F. Scott Fitzgerald’s crazy Southern Belle ex-expatriate wife was Zelda.

Her first trip to the vet revealed a poor pup that had been removed from her mother’s milk too soon. She hadn’t been eating or drinking and I was instructed to feed the horrors of Gerber’s pureed chicken to her on a tongue depressor and water in a syringe. Those days and nights of her early puppy-hood were my first taste of parenthood. I didn’t know it though. The patience I had for her, the love and wonder as she grew into a bounding healthy dog, whip-smart and loyal. She had bee-stings, upsets tummies, tantrums, and those moments when she would simply come to me when I needed a friend, staying by my side. My mom, my dad, my brother, who was still in high school, fell in love with her too.

I met the man who was to become my husband. He passed Zelda’s test. She was a part of our courtship, going with us on walks by the Colorado riverfront trail. When we got married, I had to leave Zelda behind at my parent’s. Our apartment did not allow pets. I made dogugal visits.

Soon–very soon–our first baby arrived, then our second baby, then we moved 250 miles away. Zelda remained with my mom and dad. She was now theirs, without denial, without regret. Zelda filled a very special place in the household. She was a companion, a buddy, a source of entertainment. She was a clock, each morning stationed at her post by the back fence to bark hello to the neighborhood kids walking to the school bus. She traveled with them. It was quite a threesome.

So it was with much sadness and worry when Zelda began to decline this past summer. Rapidly. She was grumpy, sleepy, and not herself. Zelda was fading and it was hard to hear about it on the phone, so far away. I can’t imagine how hard it was for my mom to watch her “Zelda-girl” change and age and suffer. Yesterday, September 30th, Zelda was let go.

I mourn for the old days when she was mine and I was hers and she allowed me to sleep on my full-sized bed and not the floor. Such a generous dog! Her nips when I tried to wrangle more room at night were not too mean. I mourn for one more lick, one more pat, one more tummy rub.

I brought the dog home, but my mom and dad gave her the home when I could not. She gave more back to them than I ever would imagine, and they miss her and they are hurting. I am sorry Mom and Dad, for the sadness you are feeling today. The quiet house.

Thank you for saying yes when I said “there’s this puppy at the mall…she’s so cute…can I have her?”

3 comments to Zelda

  • bro-de-mopsy

    Here I sit…at work…tears streaming down my face. Zelda will surely be missed.

  • Kim

    I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. I too bought a dog to have it stay at my parent’s when I got married and moved out (no one would let me take him!). My heart goes out to you all.

  • Momofmopsy

    Thank you for the very fitting tribute to our Zelda. It is much too quiet around here.

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