Friday, December 15, 2017

A Fond Farewell to our Loyal and Beloved Friend, Zak

On Tuesday, we lost our beloved dog, Zak. He gave us ten joyous years of love, loyalty, and play, while the eleventh year was fraught with emotion, and at times harrowing as we saw him go through four major surgeries, one amputation, rehabilitation, and finally, loss.

Zak was an absolutely unworldly ball of energy finally done in by the limitations of his physical body. He simply couldn't be contained within his aging body. His high-level play did in his back legs.

He will be sorely missed. He is missed. This is the hardest blog post I've ever written.

But I don't want to mourn, but rather celebrate Zak's wonderful life.
Zak was a rescue dog. At six months old, we found him rummaging through trash cans, love at first sight! The first night we brought him home on a trial-basis, I found myself sitting on the kitchen floor, laughing hysterically as he licked me with wild abandon.

I said to my wife, "I really, really like him."

"Yeah," she answered, "we're keeping him."

And we were off! What an adventure we had...

Alas, because of Zak's breed--half pit-bull terrier (the other half never determined and it didn't matter to us one bit)--he faced a life-time of prejudice. My mom, brother, a good friend, even strangers on the street when I walked Zak, were terrified of our dog. We had to be extra careful with him.

Not that we needed to. Zak was the best-natured dog we'd ever met. The only threat from him came from loving you to death, smothering you in kisses. Everywhere Zak went--doggie daycare, the vet, the nail clipper gals at Petco, physical therapy--he received lots of compliments and made fans. Everyone fell in love with him, his good nature, his loyalty, his temperament. Even my mom finally came around (and she NEVER comes around on anything), proclaiming him, "such a sweet, good dog."

In his years of life, Zak only bit two people (not bad odds for any dog): one, a mower in the next yard, who definitely deserved it for taunting Zak; and two, a cable guy who I wanted to bite. Hey, Zak was just doing his job. Loyalty like his couldn't be bought. He took his protection duties very seriously. Just ask the mailman. Dunno what it was about the mailman, but it was pretty much the only person Zak never liked. Even on our walks, Zak could spot the blue uniform several blocks away and wanted to assure the postman stayed far away from invading our turf.
Zak shared with everyone a universal desire to be loved. And we did; we loved him so much that this has been a very painful farewell. Clearly Zak returned that love in bunches. Once, while I sat on the deck, he ran up to me, something draping from his mouth...two rabbit legs. He dropped the half-carcass at my feet. Wiggled his tail, golden eyes full of hope for kudos at his gift to me. A gift presented out of love. Unfortunately, I responded with girlish shrieks. But I understood the intent. It was the kind of dog Zak was. Very giving in many ways. Whenever my wife screamed at seeing a spider, Zak beat me to her rescue.

Oddly enough, Zak was never very food-oriented. Playing was his bag. And play he did, hard and fast and furious. When he was younger, he ran whip-fast, crazy-eights in the backyard. He'd actually pounce--pounce!--on his hind legs like a kangaroo. The first time I ever saw him "play" with another dog, I was horrified; it looked as if he wanted to tear the other dog apart, all growls, nips, rough and tumble worse than a no-holds barred Black Friday shopping spree. But I also noticed Zak never bit the other dogs. Even in the unrestrained passion of play, he withheld himself. When the other dog would take a bite, Zak would just back-off, tail wagging. He loved dogs, never met a dog he didn't like. Except for maybe my daughter's brat of a beagle. Which is weird, because they started as friends (my daughter insists it stems from an unseen backyard bone incident).
In his older age, Zak still maintained his energy and that's what ultimately did his back legs in. Both of them, one by one. We tried to repay Zak's unflagging loyalty. We did everything we could to save him. But my wife saw he was hurting. And the remaining back leg had developed another bone infection, one that antibiotics couldn't stop.
 Seeing that wonderful, loving, playful, force of great-natured energy stilled on the vet's table was hard. So very heart-rending.

Over the last six years, I'd spent nearly every minute of my life with my friend, Zak. As a full-time writer, I wrote 18 novels with him at my feet. 

I'll miss him greatly. My friend. My companion. My dear loyal, furry love.

Here's to you, Zak. *Tink* I hope you're happily chasing stupid angelic rabbits and mailmen with wings.


  1. My condolences. Zak sounds like he was an amazing dog.

    1. Thank you very much, Lydia. This is tough. Much more than a dog, he was a major part of my life.

  2. Awwwww. That makes me really sad, particularly since I've been following his story for the past year. But you did the best you could. I think dogs are truly the best creatures on the face of the earth.

    1. Thanks much, Suzanne. It was indeed a tough, year-long battle that the three of us finally lost.

  3. So sorry you lost your bestie. Pitties are one of the most maligned breeds but I haven't met one yet that I haven't fallen in love with. They are extraordinary dogs and it's great that you loved Zak so.

  4. What a beautiful tribute. I hate dog discrimination and sorry Zak had to experience any but glad he taught everyone how wrong they could be. Zak sounds like truly one of a kind and I know I would have loved him as well - heck, I kind of already do.