Zeke died today. He was my mother’s dog for nearly 17 years.
Let me back up just a little…
During my 16th summer our Beagle, Chester, passed away. My brother Larry was on vacation with his buddies at the time and always used to like to say that we killed his dog while he was gone. Although he despised that dog (for the most part) and Chester was really old and had doggie cancer. It was his time. We missed him but where glad he was no longer suffering.
A few months later I declared it “Puppy Search Weekend” and poured over the Austin American Statesman classefieds to find puppies for sale. We found a breeder with toy Fox Terriers and decided that would be a good dog for our family, which at this point comprised of me and my parents, with Larry around only a little and my other brothers out of the house.
We drove 45 minutes out to the country to choose our dog and I held him on my lap the entire car ride home. He was so tiny that he fit inside both of my hands, cupped together. I instantly fell in love.
But then how could you not? I mean look at that face!
That evening we proposed a million names or so and nothing seemed to stick. That morning my mother got up and said that my Dad had decided on “Zeke” and we all agreed it was perfect. I always imagined that name for a MUCH larger dog but then I think he imagined himself much larger so it worked just fine. : )
Zeke was a pretty awesome puppy. I don’t have a lot of memory of his “potty training” or feeding since I probably wasn’t really responsible for those aspects of his life, but I do remember what a feisty little man he was. He had one of those chew ropes that he would grab with his teeth and I used to pull on it so hard that I could drag his whole little body around while his mouth was still attached!
I loved to chase him around the imaginary circle that went around our furniture arrangement in our living room. I think he chased me sometimes too. And I SO did not mind his “kisses.” I gave him “people” food, even though I knew it wasn’t the best idea.
Two years later I left for college. After that he became my mother’s dog and neither of them ever looked back. He basically became her 5th child. The dog loved milk and when my mom was done with her breakfast cereal she would empty the rest of her milk into his bowl. Cereal milk, now that is love.
When she called yesterday to tell me that he was most certainly dying she recalled how excited he would get before I returned for one of my weekend or holiday visits home. He knew me as “sister” and would run around like a crazy dog before I entered the door. I was always so happy to see him too and to get my doggie fix.
After several years he and my mother were pretty much inseperrable unless she was cooking in the kitchen or out of the house. He became her lap dog and if she was sitting down he was there, under a blanket, asleep. If you attempted to hug my mother while she was seated and did not know that Zeke was there you were in for it. He snapped at me and others quite a few times over his lap territory.
As the years went on he got a little less spry and little more ornery, every time I stepped back into my parent’s house. First with my boyfriend then my husband and then my child and so on. He was still pretty fun though when Tim and I were dating and first married and Tim loved to take him outside and get him all riled up to chase after the squirrels. I mean you just said the word “squirrel” and he went nuts! (HA!)
Later, when we would arrive at night with our sleeping baby in tow he would bark really loudly as we entered the door and I would give him the evil eye. We had to start calling my parents when we were close so they could take him in the backyard before we got there. But in the last year or so he wouldn’t even bat an eye when we came in and was completely dependent on my mother to be his eyes and ears. During our last visit at Easter I did feel that it might be the last time we saw him since he was so skinny and and quite lifeless.
When I spoke to my mother on Thursday she said he hadn’t eaten in two days and I knew it was the end. When she called this morning to say he had gone I was just so glad he wasn’t suffering anymore.
Zeke brought a lot of love and joy to my family and when I really ponder it, it is amazing to me how such a small creature can mean so much in people’s lives. No words ever said, just pure unconditional love.
My mother claims she will not get another dog and I believe her. I know that Zeke will always hold a special place in her heart and that today is a REALLY hard day for her. Her life and routine will now change and she will no longer have to play nursemaid to her 6 pound best friend. But she also no longer has her little best friend with her.
Our next visit to their house will be quite strange and I am sure that The B Man will be looking for him, although we’ve already mentioned that he as gone on to doggy heaven.
So… here’s to Zeke, the best result of a “Puppy Search Weekend” ever. We loved you little man and thank you for being a good dog, friend and protector ; ) May you find yourself before a bottomless bowl of cereal milk with renewed sight and energy. I can see you chasing the squirrels now.