In memory of Zeke

A story about the death of a very dear dog.

This is a guest post coming up today. A reflection on what any dog lover feels when their beloved dog dies. (I don’t even want to think about the end of Pharaoh that can’t be too many weeks off!) But as has been said before it is one the key lessons that we learn from our dogs.

Not too many days ago I received an email from Liz Nelson.

I wanted to submit a synopsis of how our fur babies have dealt with the loss of a friend and the addition of another one to see if you wanted to use it as a guest post.

There was no question that I wanted to publish Liz’s synopsis so it could be shared with you. Here it is.

ooOOoo

The death of Zeke

See footnote for details of this photograph.

A little over a year ago we lost our precious Rottweiler, Zeke, to bone cancer.

Zeke, a rescue who still had remnants of buckshot in his torso from his days living in the woods of Mississippi, was with our family for about 8 years. A gentler giant there never was. He and our cat were friends and Zeke frequently bathed the cat’s head and ears. Zeke and our Chow-mix (Fiona) were also very close. We joked he was in love with her because he let her collect all the toys and win at tug-a-war, despite the size difference.

Losing Zeke was a tremendous blow for our household. Both dogs and our 2 cats were visibly impacted by Zeke’s loss. Fiona took it the hardest. She became listless, fatigued, and generally out of sorts. She wasn’t interested in playing and she became an even pickier eater. She would skip several meals in a row and then eat everybody’s food at one time (including the cats’). She and the other animals refused to touch the dog bed in the living room that Zeke had used. She also refused to chew on a large rawhide we found that had once been Zeke’s. It felt like she was saving his things for when he came back to claim them. We noticed the hair under her eyes starting to go gray. She started to show and act all 9 of her years (she’s a rescue and special needs dog so we’re amazed we’ve had 9 years with her).

The vet said we could explore antidepressants but I wanted to see if we could let her try to work through it without medication. Though they remain an option if needed.

In January, my husband said he was ready to think about getting a puppy and several weeks later we adopted an adorable rescue named Pierce. The rescue told us he was part Husky and part Lab. Now that he’s older we think there’s a hefty dose of hound in there. After a few days of wariness and some growling, the older dogs decided to accept the puppy as part of the household. Fiona regained her energy and she was often seen in the yard with the puppy, teaching Pierce how to play fight or stalk birds. She would chase the puppy until they were both exhausted (which we were grateful for). Sometimes she got annoyed with the puppy but for the most part she took on a big sister role.

Fast forward a few months and the puppy is now the biggest dog in the house. While he really is a good dog, he’s still a puppy. Now when he is too energetic there is a lot more of him bouncing around a room. Fiona spends much of her time reinforcing her dominance by taking his toys and putting them under her chin where Pierce is afraid to attempt to retrieve them. She’s stopped running around the yard to play with him. Perhaps because it hurts when you collide with 45 lbs of speeding, clumsy puppy (just ask my husband)? She has gone back to spending most of her time looking pitiful. She will let me pet her though she acts as if it is an imposition.

We’re hoping that when the puppy matures a little more Fiona will regain interest in playing with him. Or at least his behavior won’t annoy her as much. I know that the puppy can never replace Zeke’s place in the family but I really hope Fiona doesn’t spend the rest of her dog life mourning Zeke and ignoring the new dog!

Liz Nelson

Footnote (re the photo above):

I have a great picture of our family with Zeke and Fiona in it (and my third dog). It’s one of our engagement photos and I’m so glad we included the pups. As you can see Zeke was super cuddly! It’s one of my favorite pictures. You can use any of the information in my about section for an introduction. I don’t have it very detailed (I only started this blog this week) so if there is any additional info you want to include please let me know. I looked around for a more recent photo of myself but all of my recent ones are from Halloweens and involve costumes. Not really an everyday look!

So I guess let’s stick with the family photo. Thank you Paul!

ooOOoo

Liz’s website is Supervising With Social Anxiety. Her About page opens with:

I am a supervisor at a small non-profit agency. I’m also in school part-time working on a doctorate. I’m a social worker so I’ve been working in non-profit agencies since I got my master’s degree around 8 years ago. I’ve been in management for around 5 years. I have had to deal with pretty intense social anxiety for as long as I can remember.

Another great connection if you ask me!!

18 thoughts on “In memory of Zeke

  1. What a hopeful story that Liz has told. Fiona will warm up to him. Maybe if Pierce recognizes her as an alpha that might work. It is good everyone has a companion again. It helps to ease the pain.
    Great share, Paul!

      1. I was gently teasing you! Because you are such a regular commenter I wondered if yesterday’s post had been too morbid, too political (with a small ‘p’), and something you wanted to stay away from.

        (And don’t feel under any obligation to reply!)

  2. Thank you Liz for your sensitively written article. As great dog ( and animal) lovers we can identify with your feelings. We worry about our pets in the same way that we do about our children. Hopefully Fiona’s grief will lessen with time and she will be a happy dog once again.

    1. As Jean knows more than most!

      But Pharaoh will be 14 on June 3rd. and the deterioration in his rear hips is now significant. Our local vet, Jim Goodbrod, a good friend of this place, and a great neighbour, says that Pharaoh will make it clear when he has lost the will to carry on.

      Inevitably, Pharaoh now poops and pees in the house as he struggles to make it to the front door but his mental sharpness is little diminished. Often my feelings are unclear. I hate to see him struggle so much in getting around yet I can’t even imagine my feelings when it’s time for him.

  3. Losing our fur-kids is never easy and it’s especially heartbreaking when their ‘brothers and sisters’ try to process the loss as well. Digital hugs to Liz and her family of fur. Thank you for sharing a tear jerker of a story.💔

  4. What a great impact Zeke had on the whole family.. I hope Fiona soon gets her mo-jo back to her former self of finding joy in playing around again.. Grief even for our four legged friends takes it toll.. Many thanks for sharing Liz’s story Paul…

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