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My Zu Zu

by Ron Holdraker
July 30, 2022

A dozen years ago she came into my life. I saw a Cavalier King Charles dog and immediately fell in love with the breed.

Zu Zu, named after the little girl in the Movie “It’s A Wonderful Life” soon became attached to my side.

Time goes on and the girl was obviously aging. Grey fur  began replacing the red and white face. Nightly calls to brush her and her two fellow, younger dogs’ teeth were being met with more resistance.

The only thing that actually activated her declining senses were the words squirrel or biscuit. Her outside time was chiefly for peeing and pooping, but wandering  throughout the yard became little more than nonsense.

Oh sure, she would join the boys Scout (named after a character in the movie To Kill a Mockingbird), or Checkers (a rescue Cavalier King Charles) in an occasional bark, but it was really a dog afterthought.

Lately, she has been slow to move and harder to wake up, all signs of declining health. Three weeks ago she had a middle of the night seizure and I sat on the floor just holding, talking, reassuring her. She perked back up and life went on.

Three days ago she jumped into my lap in the famous “Daddy Recliner”, a place she always kept warm when I was away, but a place she moved from as soon as I arrived home. She snuggled right up to my face in an annoying,  but loving manner. 

On Monday, she and the two boys were scheduled for their monthly wash and nail trims,. Just mention the word “ride” ad Zu Zu was on her feet.

A few hours after we dropped the dogs off, we received a call from the groomer. Zu Zu had fallen over in the cage and was bleeding. 

We rushed over to the groomer and she brought Zu Zu out, wrapped in a towel. As she was laid in my lap in the back seat of our vehicle, I knew immediately all was lost. The sparkle in her eyes, the wag of the tail was gone. She was still warm, but no pulse remained. I had missed her last moment of life, something I said would never happen.

Her lifeless body was transferred to the awaiting animal tech. I stayed in the car for moments, wiping back the tears. I joined Wife Patti and the doctor in a hug as my friend laid motionless on the table. “I want her cremated,” is all could get out. Her ashes and box will be returned.

Once back home I looked up to the large wall picture of a much younger dog and recalled all the love, good times, laughs. Yes, this tough writing man  would weep for an hour, remembering, just remembering. I so wanted her to see me holding her at the moment she passed, but it just didn’t work out that way.

Wife Patti searched though all the dogs’ adoption papers. Checkers is seven years old, Scout in nine. 

She refused to even consider another dog. “We are old, would it be fair to us, to a new puppy. Would you have the patience?,” she queried.

I don’t want a replacement for my love of Zu Zu. But  do I have the time, the energy of the same man from 12 years ago? That’s the funny thing about life and loss. Time is always the challenge.

Today, I mourn the loss of a friend. It will be far from  the only loss I have had or will have over the coming years. I would like to think there will always be room for more, more friendships, more love and perhaps a dog that will bring a smile. I just feel so uncertain. Perhaps in a few days, few weeks...perhaps never.

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