Sunday, March 18, 2012

Zuma Lucille-Rest in Peace

Zuma Lucille, you lie upstairs in Kim's studio all clean and swaddled in silk cloth, given to me by Dorothy Caldwell. I sit by the fire next to your bed, just hours ago you nestled here. This morning, the family came over to kiss you, stroke you and say goodbye. Your Auntie Rose and Artie here early this morning and late last night. You went so peacefully with the drugs. 

We loved you as best, as hard and as soft as we could. We loved you as much as you let us. You were always your own original true self. True to your nature which was maybe about shyness and control.

I remember taking you to your first obedience class at the SPCA. When it was time to take leashes off for play and social time, you ran to the corner of the yard and hid under a table top. I thought you might outgrow that behavior, but funny how really you never did.

You definitely had your favorites. Tommy and Rosemary always got the mega-greetings with the waggiest of tales. Melody had a special place in your heart. And after many years, Carol was gifted with your big love and heart. You always adored Megan from the get-go, which never ended.

The things I will miss more than anything are the facials you gave me when I would return home from traveling. How you would follow me to the couch and jump on my chest, pin me down, and lick my face till my skin was raw. Sleeping with you in bed under the covers was simply the best. How you were able to breathe under there and not suffocate was always a mystery. How you would let me spoon you right in the curves of my body always made sleep precious. Spending time with you on Whidbey Island, especially Double Bluff and Maxwelton beaches where you'd hunt for and find all kinds of disgusting fish heads and other delicacies to eat. Playing stick with you, how you'd jump and leap to catch the stick. How you would run to fetch but almost never fetch. There would be no labrador or golden tendencies for you. With your back to me, you would know the exact moment when I would pick up a new stick. You would dart back to me, jump up and beg me to throw yet another stick. Your leaps and acrobatics were truly Cirque du Soleil ready!

I wondered if you were happy, truly happy, your spirit always had a frosty guarded side, or a certain reserve that was hard to penetrate. Was it simply your Zuma nature? Was it because you were the runt? I remember picking you up and out of the litter. You were you so tiny and delicate and had this white triangle on your back. Yes, this is my dog, the one for me. Ahh, the puppy breath. You fit in the pocket of my army jacket, or was that Lola, our first rat terrier, and one helluvah great dog, who left us long ago. It has been a run of 19 years of rat terriers, and you Zuma, are our  last terrier. Thus ends The Terrier Republic.

There will be so much to miss about you Zuma dear, your sleekness and beauty, and the super protection you provided for us. How you would warn us about the scary and mean mailman, UPS and FedX persons, and even our friends. We won't have to pick you up when we open our front door, to protect the ankles of visitors, or break up fights you pick with Django. We won't have to guard his food, protect strangers or worry about your skin, your allergies, your thyroid, your morning cough, your walking or not walking.

Right now it feels good to sit by the fire and remember all the ways in which you touched our lives: the good the bad, and the facials. The rain has cleared up a bit, so we will decide on the place to dig your grave. We want bury you along with Lola's ashes, in the front yard, protecting us from all the harm, perceived or real, right between the apple and pear trees.

Your mom and I dig your grave, side by side, shovel to shovel, something we have never done before. It starts to rain and hail, Django nearby digging for gophers and so all the family is involved. We hope to settle you into your new ground before nightfall.

The memories flood in, the photos we looked at of you and Lola last night. We think of the tricks Lola taught you, which you have now passed on to Django, especially standing on the door of the dishwasher, performing the doggie pre-rinse. You have each taught the other new tricks which will continue as long as we have dogs for pets. Something that will never end at our house.

And yes, I miss the sight, sounds and smell of you. The sight of your black and whiteness traveling about the house, the sounds of your doggie "purrs" as you scratch your muzzle on the bathroom mat, and the smell of you buttered popcorn toes.

Django runs downstairs after his shower with Kim and sits next to me and leans in. He has been Kim's dog but has always shared the wealth. I wonder how he is feeling and what goes on in his little doggie brain. Will he be depressed? Will he be happy that he is the one and only dog? He is pliable, social and has no reservations about being loved and giving love.

As I see the two dog beds in front of the fireplace,  I wonder which hurts more, seeing two side by side, or removing hers and seeing only one. I know to be gentle now. The grief monster hasn't visited me for years. I know it can strike unpredictably at a moment's notice, and that I must honor its invitation to simply let the tears flow.
Funny, going through the photos of you, I found this one of us, snowed in on Whidbey Island in December several years ago. I used this in my new book, on page 134, as a project called distorted image. Your pointy ears visible on several shred layers! So you live on, dear Z, even in the encaustic world!

Kim and I carry your body down to its grave. We scatter Lola's ashes at the base and all around the grave and gingerly place you inside. We thank you both for all the wonderful years you have given us. We are happy to have you so close to us, right there in the front yard. We cover you up and spread zinnia and pansy seeds at the top of your grave, and place the Lola's concrete plaque on the top. Soon I will cast a plaque for you, and place it alongside hers.

As the day ends, I wonder if the apples and pears on our trees will turn out in black and white this year.


Kim Tyler said...

You wrote this so beautifully, and with such heartfelt love and honesty. No wonder I love you so much!

Loralei said...

Oh, the tears are in my eyes; I know too well the pain of losing such a dear friend and companion. I'm sorry to hear of your loss; my heart goes out to you in this time..

Linda said...

It's at once heart-warming and heart-wrenching.

Anonymous said...

Thank you DD for this Zuma "tribute".

I'll miss you, Zum-zum.


Stephanie Clayton said...

this is a lovely tribute to your dear canine companion. i know that pain, too, and am moved by your words.

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It is so heart-warming and heart-wrenching, i like it...

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