Monday, September 3, 2012

Zeke (for Hannah Zarr)

            Zeke has been gathered to his fathers.  He was a great dog.  He brightened my life.  Chesterton, I think, said that together a man and a dog span one of the biggest gaps in the universe.  I'm glad that Zeke and I spanned that gap.  We were the best of friends.  He taught me the meaning of loyalty and the transcending power of innocence.  He was happier blind and toothless than most people are when their dreams come true.  Though he died at age 20, he was old for only a few weeks.  Zeke lived so long that the vet said he was one in five thousand.  I'd have said one in a million.
            When he was younger, Zeke was pliable and accommodating.  You could do with him whatever you wanted, and he loved it.  After he lost his eyesight, he became more independent, more focused.  He got his own plan.  He became a self, an even more beautiful self.
            I remember how, after he lost his eyesight, Zeke would read the air, back and forth, with his nose, like a speed-reader's finger going across and down the page.
            I sometimes think he died twice.  Once, late at night, he fell into a seizure.  He stiffened, and then went limp.  His breathing stopped.  I crouched down next to him and put my arms around his curled body, as if to hold his spirit in.  I cried.  I prayed.  A few seconds later, his breath returned, and his head lifted.
            I'm heartened to think that when I open the door that separates this world from the next that I can call his name again and that he'll come running like he has so many times before -- head down, ears back, tail wagging, jumping and spinning in circles, as brim full of natural joy as an animal can be.
            Zeke was my friend, and I am better for it.

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