04 July 2015

The Legend of Zelda

 My whole life I wanted a dog to call my own. But I grew up in apartment buildings until I was in high school and was never allowed to have one of my own. I had other pets (birds and hamsters), but never a dog. Then ten years ago we moved into our very first house and a handful of months later my husband and I found ourselves on a Sunday afternoon visiting the Oregon Humane Society, "just to look."

We wandered through the sanitized tiled hallways and chain metal gates, peeking in at the dogs held within. We noticed immediately there seemed to be two kinds of dogs. There were the kind who hid in the very back, quiet and somewhat scared, and the kind who ran right up to the door, demanding your attention. We saw plenty of nice looking dogs, but there wasn't one that called to us until we saw a third kind.

Zelda (or "Brandy" as she was previously named) was sitting towards the back of the kennel until we walked up. She looked at us, stood up, and slowly made her way to where we were standing. We held out our hands. She smelled them and then sat down, leaning into us. (Those who know Zelda know this to be a thing that she did, the leaning against you while she sat beside you.)

This was a dog we wanted to meet. Arrangements were made to bring the three of us into a meet-and-greet space where we could interact. There is supposed to be a person from the Humane Society who waits there with you, but ours left, saying she'd be right back. She never came back. We played with Zelda for a really long time. She was sweet, kind, chill, patient, and listened. All good things. Erik and I decided we wanted to see about adopting her.

We took her home that day and she became a part of our family, fitting in as if she was the last piece of a puzzle we'd been working on for a really long time. 

The day we brought her home.
It's been nearly three weeks since we lost our Zelda. As anyone who has loved a dog with their whole heart knows, it's been a really tough time. I've been at a complete loss for words. (Which is why, unless you've brought Zelda up in a recent conversation, it is unlikely that you've heard about her passing.) Even now, it's hard to write these words, to tell this story, without watering eyes and a lump in my throat.

At the end of April, I took Zelda in for her annual exam and the vet noticed a lump on her skull and told us it was likely an osteosarcoma. She told me it was hard to predict how it would progress and that there was very little that could be done to treat it. I went home and cried and then went to work.

And then I went on to cherish every walk, every snuggle, every kiss, every chin scratch, and every play bow. I appreciated the time I spent with her in a whole new way. I gave her all the love I could and then a little bit more.

Six and a half weeks later, she was gone. We took her to Dove Lewis when she wouldn't eat or get out of bed. They found tumors in her lungs, spleen, and probably other organs as well. It was time to let her go. She was in pain and there weren't options to make her better.

It was one of the toughest choices I've ever had to make and I am so grateful for Erik that I didn't have to make it alone.

I miss her every day in a thousand different ways. I miss her nose on the side of the bed after she's heard me stirring in the morning, silently begging for me to get up and start the day. I miss the sound of a tortilla chip in her mouth after I've "accidentally" dropped it on the floor. I miss snuggling with her after a tough day. I miss afternoons spent reading/sleeping in the sunshine. I miss the wagging tail, welcoming me home. I miss her persistent stare when she has deemed it is time for food/walking. I miss the sound of her heavy sighs and the sounds she'd make while she was sleeping.

Zelda was an awesome dog and I feel so lucky for the ten years we spent together. Some day I know we'll find another dog who will bring us great joy, but Zelda will always be my first, best dog, and will always hold that special place in my heart. 

Favorite bench for summertime naps.

Snow day!

Sometimes it's nice to hold paws.

I'm ready.

A tiny ball in the sun.

That nose!

Favorite toy. A gift from Uncle Ben.
What do you mean I'm not supposed to be here?

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