I’ve lost pets before and I felt sad. But I wasn’t prepared for the chest constricting sorrow of losing our beautiful black Lab Zeke. Still sailing on the high of launch night for my novel All That Glitters I returned home and opened the garage door. Zeke, the faithful greeter and sniffer of all who entered our home, stumbled up and struggled to cross the floor. His hips and tail looked malformed yet they’d been perfectly normal earlier in the day. Lately, he’d taken to making torso sized holes in the chain link fence. He would pull himself through and go swimming with the ducks in the pond across the street. I assumed he must have dislocated his back end in today’s hole which was too small for his large frame. I called a vet friend and Matt and Zeke popped over so she could take a look.
The friend thought it was a tumour and we should bring him by the clinic the next day. How could it be cancer? Three days before he’d romped through the woods as we walked with friends. We hadn’t noticed anything unusual until tonight. Zeke struggled to get into my car the next morning. At the clinic, I shared my dislocation theory with the girls behind the counter. With a quick glance at one another, they informed me my vet friend had already prepared them for Zeke’s arrival. I was still convinced a snappy chiropractic move would set everything aright.
X-rays confirmed cancer. A fast growing tumour had wrapped around the end of his spine and solidified several vertebrae. By the end of the day he couldn’t walk, and we chose to let him go peacefully.
He leaves behind more than a collection of holes in our fence. He leaves behind a hole in our hearts. No more soft whumps against the wall with a black tail to greet us in the morning. No more utter and complete jubilation when we return home, even if we were only gone for a few minutes. And no more shiny black companion to roam the paths and trails through the woods.
“Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth?” (Ecc. 3:21 ESV)
We miss you, Zeke, lots.
Zeke after he decided to go swimming in his tux at our daughter's wedding.