There was no bad day that wasn’t fixed by seeing Zelda’s wagging nub. There was no bad mood that wasn’t fixed by burying my face in Zelda’s fur. There was no sadness that wasn’t fixed by knowing how miraculously lucky we were to have found each other.
I take a bike ride around my town. I pass my favorite Italian restaurant where I can’t go anymore – it’s where I’d sit outside for al fresco dinners with Zelda and slip her garbanzo beans from my salad. I pass the waterfront park where I can’t go anymore – it’s where I’d share a blanket with Zelda listening to summer concerts and drink wine while she chewed bully sticks. I head toward the bridge over the canals, but can’t go there – it’s where I sat holding Zelda every sunset during her final days.
I go home. At the door, I am met with a sea of happy faces – Archie brings me squeaky toys, Bijou brings her favorite ball, Jessie barks and begs for ear scratches. But my house feels empty. My eyes are drawn against my will to the dogbed by the fireplace. It was Zelda’s bed. It’s where she’d wait for me. She’d keep a deadpan stare, but her tail nub would give her true feelings away, wagging so fast her whole body would shake. Her bed is empty. But I still see her there.
I lay on the couch and hope that watching TV will be a distraction. There was a bed for Zelda next to the couch even though her bed by the fireplace was only four feet away. The distance was too much for her to bear, being that far away from me, Even at the end, when her arthritis was crippling her, if I lay down on the couch, Zelda would struggle to her feet and stumble across the four foot abyss to lay down closer to me. My hand still instinctively drops down to scratch Zelda’s ears, but they’re not there.
Finding Zelda that day, starving and dying by the roadside, was the greatest moment of my life. And knowing her devotion and love during our years together was the greatest gift I ever received. I wonder what I ever did to deserve such a loyal friend. We shared a connection beyond that which I have ever known with any other person or creature, and I trust I will never feel again. Zelda is gone, but she is still everywhere.
A non-profit animal rescue has been established in memory of Zelda – Please visit ZeldaFoundation.org for more information