Last Friday, August 23rd 2019, Alex and I said goodbye to Zola.
I got her when I was 21 and in no position to care for such a dominant and willful dog. Honestly, I couldn’t really even care for myself. I remember doing the math. “If she lives 10-12 years then I’ll be 31 to 33 years old by then!” An impossible thing to imagine. A different me in a different life.
Who knew just how spot on that would be.
Anyone who knows me IRL knows I am a self-isolating Alone Person who must be hounded in order to show up for social engagements and who disappears for months or years at a time– but I’m not sure anyone ever truly knew the extent to which I kept myself apart from other people. For so many years, Zola was the only consistent presence in my life. With her around, I was never truly alone.
This loss is so strange because it’s more than just missing her physical presence– to talk to, head pat, over-treat– it’s missing the part of me that only ever existed for her. I’m not sure what to do with all this Zola-tailored love. If I transitioned it over to Alex then I’d be riding him piggy back, constantly caressing his neck, and slipping an endless supply of chocolate covered cashews into his mouth.
Believe me or don’t believe me, but I’m pretty sure Zola was a magical creature.
Anytime I took her for a walk, right up until the very end, other dogs would literally bow down in submission. I think, secretly, she was ZOLA QUEEN OF DOGS and I only ended up having her through some strange karmic juju. Because she came into my life when it was shite and she stayed with me until she knew I’d gotten through to the other side.
What a gift.
The evening before Goodbye, I lay on the floor next to her and told her her life story. I’m sure she was like ALL THE TIME WITH THE TALKING, HUMAN but it felt important to remember all the different houses we lived in and the people we lived with. Or that semester I took four Perspectives on the Environment courses and she ended up living on organic delivered-to-the-door-because-that-somehow-saved-the-planet dog food, only to transition to cheap ass Ol’ Roy when I remembered I was poor (Sorry, Earth).
Then Alex came along. We moved to Denver. On the long drive, she sat in the backseat on her bed and rested her head against the armrest the entire time. She didn’t seem phased by two days of driving, she just snored away and made everything easier because I didn’t feel like I was doing it on my own. She was with me.
(Meanwhile Alex was in the moving van, which is his own story of suffering to tell…)
Zola + Death = a running theme of the last twelve years. I can’t tell you how many times I thought she was going to die. She got heartworm when she was two. She had tumors. Cancer. Cancer again. Salmon poisoning. Pounds of stolen chocolate. Supposedly a bladder tumor. Each time I was preemptively devastated and each time she would be perfectly fine, smiling at me like GOTCHA![Read more…]
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