Friday, February 27, 2009

Mourning and Thanksgiving

I want to begin my thanking all of you who sent condolences for our family's loss.
They are more comforting and helpful than you may realize, and I am grateful to all of you!

Zoey died peacefully on my lap under the cottonwood trees in the garden of the animal hospital in Tijeras. Her pain is ended, and we knew when her body relaxed that we had done the right thing.

On Monday, she had a difficult day and that evening, I had to hand feed her and force the pain meds on her. Tuesday morning, I called the vet and made the appointment for that afternoon. The Boychick stayed home from school and the Chem Geek Princess came up mid-morning to spend time with Zoey. When the Engineering Geek came home at noon, we took her for the longest walk she'd had in the month. She perked up out in the meadow, sniffing at the rodent holes, and lifting her nose to the breeze. Then she rested on the front porch, where the Engineering Geek fed her a whole Hershey Milk Chocolate Bar.

You see, Zoey loved chocolate. And after we were married in 2002, she once stole a very large Hershey Bar from the dresser. Bruce discovered it, called the vet, and spent several worried hours with her. She did not get sick. Her liver function was fine until the day she died. But we learned to keep chocolate away from our girl. So Tuesday, during the last hour of her life, she got a whole chocolate bar to herself. And I must say, it was the only thing she had shown interest in eating in a long time.

The trip to the vet was unreal, short as it was. When we walked in the door, I broke down, and the EG had to handle the paperwork and arrangements. He was the one who asked if we could take Zoey outside to the garden, where she would not be nervous about any medical procedures. She died with all of us around her, talking to her, telling her what a good life we'd had with her and what a good dog she was.
When it was all over, and she lay still on my lap, I felt a great sense of peace about it all. We had done what we could for her medically, but it was clearly time for her to go the Happy Hunting Grounds. Zoey, I hope there are rabbits there that can be caught, just for you!

In the past few days, our house has felt very empty. Zoey was a big, big presence. Bigger than we had realized while she was with us. Poor Lily wakes up each morning, and goes looking for her, and she waits by the door, puzzled at night. But she is gradually taking her place as the dog in the family.

On Wednesday, I cried as I washed out Zoey's food container, picked up her dishes, and her placemat. I put out food for the birds, so that they could carry the message of Zoey's death into the forest and the sky.

But we do a lot of smiling through our tears, as we remember Zoey and count the blessings of her life with us. She was a confident dog, a princess and a queen. She loved chocolate and standing out in the driveway, just out of reach, looking for all the world as if she were saying, "No, I don't want to come closer just now, but you are allowed to come pet me." She raised our two cats, and she taught Lily how to be a dog in a human world. She loved us, plain and simple, and greeted us with a happy dance every time we came in the door. She followed me around the house, and I am told that when I left, she'd stand at the window looking sad for a while. She was always at the window again, upon my return.

So we are sad, we feel the empty spaces in our hearts, and yet we are thankful for the true love and loyalty that Zoey gave us, every day that she lived with us. Zoey came to us by serendipity, under cottonwood trees in a park in January 2000, on a warm, sunny winter's day. And she left us in a garden under the cottonwood trees, on a warm, sunny winter's day. And every day of her life with us, she taught us to rise in the morning asking the Eternal to make us the people that she, our dog, thought we were.

Now, she is gone, but her legacy lives, and already friends are looking for another dog, one that needs a home, one that could benefit from what Zoey taught us about the bonds between a dog and her humans.


Frankie said...

This made me cry. Zoey has touched many lives. Reminds me of my Jerry Lee--so thankul he was a part of my life. I smile now remebering him, but I still miss him terribly.

Melora said...

I love that you gave her a chocolate bar! I am so sorry for your loss, but no one could ask for a better last day than you gave Zoey.

Lisa said...

I am so sorry for your loss, your post caused me tears. It is so hard to lose a beloved and loyal family member. She was beautiful and was lucky to have such a beautiful life under the cottonwood trees. Take care.

Amie said...

Oh, I'm sorry! Your post was so touching.

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Thank-you for sharing this. I am also smiling over you thinking to give her a chocolate bar.

Our condolences on a sad, sad, loss.

Unknown said...

I am so sorry. We lost our Presley not a week before you lost Zoey. It's unbelievable how hard it is.