Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Remembering my girl

Tomorrow will be the second anniversary of Zorra's death. I've been thinking about the little things I miss: how she would sing along with the train whistle; how her cold nose would touch mine if I fell asleep on the couch, startling me awake; the coziness of her lying under the dining table while we ate; the sound of her tail hitting the washer, boom boom boom, whenever we entered the house through the laundry room (hence the nickname Tympani Tail). She loved us, treats, catching Frisbees, and lying in the sun. She was terrified of fireworks, and suspicious of all other dogs, men in hats, and any other people she did not know.

I found Zorra, sick and starving, near the rural residential treatment center where I was working in 1997, and brought her home. As she settled down on an old blanket on my back porch, she gave a sigh of exhaustion and relief that broke my heart. She was about two years old, and had obviously had an unhappy life. She blossomed into a beautiful and often very sweet dog, but we never were able to conquer the demons that haunted her. Her fear and aggression could be triggered by any little thing, and we often did not know what. We took her to a behavioral veterinarian at Texas A & M, had her on Prozac for a while, did all kinds of elaborate behavioral protocols, and she improved but was still very unpredictable. We had to board her in order to have a party, or to have workmen at the house. The sound of the doorbell or the sight of a UPS truck parked on our street would make her berserk, hurling herself at the window or even pulling down the sheer curtains next to the door.

She bit both the Scientist and me on several occasions. We thought she would mellow out as she got older, but instead she grew more reactive. Shortly before she died we found out that she had a very bad hip. She could still run fast, never limped, and hid her pain from us, so I was stunned when I saw the X-ray. Surely that was why she had grown more irritable over time. Shortly after that, she turned on the Scientist as he tried to haul her away from attacking a neighbor's dog, and she bit his hands severely. On that day we finally were in agreement that we could not go on like that. The next day, our hearts aching, we had her euthanized. We held her and told her we loved her as she took her last breath.

How can I explain what a complex mixture of love and brokenness this precious dog was? We had so many good times with her, and we have such wonderful memories of how she grinned, how she ran, how she would cuddle with us (when she wanted to!), how her beautiful coat shone in the sun. About eighty-five per cent of the time she was a dear, playful, loving friend. But the other fifteen per cent was finally too much for all of us.

I know that if she had died out in that field before I found her, she would never have known what it meant to be loved and to have a real home, and I know that she did know that despite her fears. For that, and the good times, I am grateful.

Rest in peace, my sweet brown-eyed girl. I will always love you.

15 comments:

Presbyterian Gal said...

This brought tears to my face.

Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

Oh sweetie I am bawling over here. What a life you must have given to her.

Kievas said...

She was a lucky dog to have shared her life with you (and you will always have memories of the good times).

Quotidian Grace said...

What a beautiful tribute to Zorra. It's also a tribute to the love and patience you and the Scientist put into her care. I'm glad you were so amply rewarded in return.

Preacher Mom said...

The sweetness and the sadness of this make me cry.

God bless Zorra. And you, too!

DogBlogger said...

Crying here, too, even though you'd already told me the story. I can't imagine how hard the decision was for you. What a lovable girl she was. Remember and rejoice...

Mary Beth said...

What a lovely sweet girl! I know she was blessed by you as you were by her.

SpookyRach said...

gorgeous rememberance.

Jan said...

I'm glad to know, rather belatedly, where the name "Zorra" comes from. I'm glad you wrote about Zorra; we need to remember those we loved over and over again. When we share, we share them with our friends. Thank you.

Singing Owl said...

Oh oh oh...crying here too. That was SO well written. Poor dear little dog--and poor you and the scientist for having to make that difficult decision.

(((((hugs)))))

Deb said...

:sniff:

I miss a couple of our furry angels, too...

d

zorra said...

Everybody, thank you.

mompriest said...

Oh gosh. You wrote this weeks ago...but I just found it. Reminds me of my first dog. Found her and she was so much like yours, traumatized and unpredictable and sweet and loving. I give thanks that we were able to love her for the 8 years we had her. But she too got cranky and mean as she aged and we have to put her down. Cried my eyes out...as we loved her into that place of eternal rest...what ever dog "heaven" might be...

Diane said...

oh, ((((zorra)))) I didn't know. You really did do so well with her. I love what you wrote. Scout bit me once, too... we're doing much better on her possessiveness, but my heart goes out to you, reading this.

Aghaveagh said...

Ah, yes,

I can understand this. For ten years we have showered Grendel with love, and still he is fearful. I have no idea why happened to him before he came to us, (as you so aptly phrased it) what demons haunted him. I am only sorry that he will never be able to trust a human being fully. Sure, there are moments in which he seems like a real dog, but they are few and far between. It is heartbreaking to take him for a walk and have to tell the little children who flock to him, that they cannot pet him because "he is not a nice dog."

How comforting it must be to know you gave this dog love and comfort, and changed her life! God bless you for your kindness, and I am sure that Zorra will be waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge, no longer fearful, no longer tormented, but whole and fully at peace at last.