Wednesday, November 07, 2012


I never wanted a dog.

and surely Jeannie didn't really want a dog either? i mean..why?!

I don't like cleaning up poop, i don't like people at dog parks, i certainly don't like other dog owners at dog parks, i don't like obligations, i don't like walking dogs, i don't like dog license plates, i don't like dog hair, i don't like almost everything that goes into have a dog.

But there we were, deep in the suburbs of seattle, at a lure coursing event looking at basenji's and getting ready to meet up with a prospective dog..and not just a dog, a basenji. (For those of you not in the know, basenji's are hypoallergenic and Jeannie, being allergic to dog's, they fit the bill.)

They are also, very smart, snarky, non-barking, curly tailed, sneaky, mischievous,  and cuddly.

That day, we didn't find our dog, but we did learn about a basenji rescue organization, called BRAT. and no doubt, that title, is very appropriate....and they, thankfully, connected us with Bob.

A so...another saturday later, we find ourselves driving to federal way...another suburb to the south to meet the Bob and his whole family of basenji's. Of his litter, one basenji in particular had come back to Bob after the first family, ill equipped for the wild ways of a basenji puppy, returned him.

(Note: i still didn't want a dog.)

When we got to Bob's house...a small rushing heard of bronze and white barkless dogs surrounded us. it was overwhelming! and wonderful i must admit. and of that little herd, there was one dog that was aloof, a little indifferent, and a little curious too. he also came up and put his head on my knee.

Enter: Zack. 

Or, as he was originally known: "Morning Thunder."

(every dog in the litter was named after a type of celestial seasoning tea.)

Oh, Boy.

Here we go. 

However, we didn't take a dog that day...but we had agreed that perhaps, just perhaps, if we could try having him over for a night, perhaps THEN we could decide if we wanted a dog..and if a dog wanted us.

I will never forget Bob coming over and letting Zack loose in our apartment. With his long horse like legs he walked the boundaries of our apartment, inspecting every knook, every basket, every opening for as yet, unfound treats, napkins or bones. Those were yet to come.

After one night...we gave him back. 

Still unsure. Still not certain. Still wondering if we were ready..if we were equipped  could we do it. was he right? did we have the time? could we leave the house? what? if? maybe? 

We called bob..he response was "you guys are great! you'll do fine!"

Looks like we got a dog.

(Note: i still really didn't want a dog..but, someone...and that person would be Jeannie, really wanted a dog...and there was no way that i was going to deny her something that made her, clearly, so very happy.)

But, here i am. almost 8years later, shooting video on my phone of him as i walk my dog around the neighborhood with his front boots clomping on the side walk and his self-chewed-up orange fleece pullover flapping as he walks and weaves in and out of the grass sniffing for his next urine target. more than a few tears on this walk.

My last 8 years with him have been a personal and powerful instruction in responsibly, patience, and love. Before he came along i didn't really understand what it meant to put something ahead of your own needs. The number of weekends or evenings where Jeannie and I wanted to spontaneously take off for an overnight adventure on the coast or a trip to vancouver are countless...but so were the sleepy sunday morning where the soft curl of a living cinnamon bun warmed behind the crook of your knees as you questioned the need to ever get out from under the covers. He grounded us in all of the best ways.

No doubt...the 3am walks in winter seattle drizzle as he not-so-secretly deposited diarrhea on our neighbors lawn..and the unspoken look he and i shared when we quickly scooted back inside...those ground us all the same.

He has not been an easy dog.

He has chewed the toes out out of more smart woool socks than i can count...and Jeannie's jeans..well, i'll let her tell you about those.

His begging for food when we eat...his jumping and running around the house nipping at us when one of us leaves the house...scratches on my stomach from his claws when he stretches out across the bed in the middle of the night...all of those things, well, they're part of having a dog.

these are some of those other things that are part of having Zack as your dog...and i'm sure i'll add more as i remember them:
  • he was the fastest dog at the dog park, except when he found a sunny post, usually on higher ground, where he would sit, and just watch.
  • the sun was his closest friend
  • he sniff's stella's feet every morning
  • he responds to the phrase "where's jeannie" every coming to full alert, ears up, nose out, eyes on full scan.
  • he can smell rain and will not go outside
  • to get him to come into the water at the dog park, both jeannie and i had to wade out into the lake first..and then, and only then would he tentatively walk out until the water almost touch his belly. he hated it.
  • we once thought he ate a bag of shallots...took him to the vet...they gave him charcoal to eat..he had to wear a diaper and was so drugged up that he'd walk across the floor and stop to sit every few feet to re-evaluate
  • he makes a wooof sound everytime i've been gone for more than 8 hours.
  • he has to spin around 3 times before he will sit down
  • he moves pillows to nest
  • i've had the same picture of him in a santa outfit on my phone for 5 years. even after Stella. he holds that spot.
  • he can fart like no other animal
  • he knows i'm making chicken before i've even turned on the oven
  • we've fed him more different types of food that you'd think was possible for a dog to have
  • i once took him on the ferry to orcas, and since he couldn't come in the cabin, and we were on foot, i had to hold him under my coat while he shivered the entire time. we bonded.
  • he loves jeannie more than me
  • he loves me more than jeannie
  • he'll nip at you if you pick him up when he's cuddle on the couch. best to get a treat and distract him.
  • we used to run back and forth through the house chasing each other until one of us got bored....almost always him. 
  • he chews the eyes out of his stuff toy first. always..the..eyes...first..

And then, last winter, he started to limp. limping a serious way. in way that made us notice.

Finding out that the limping in his front right leg was permanent..and that it would never get better...and that his left leg was going to go the same way as his right...that was a hard day.

But we overcame! we whipped out our credit card and bought the best orthotic three thousand dollar custom molded boots you could buy for a dog. and they helped. for a long time. and they still help, but they're not enough. he needs surgery to help correct, but not heal his legs.

And now, well now, we have a baby. a very cute and very wonderful and very magical little creature that also poops, and cuddles, and if i could get her to poop in the yard, well, i'd do that too.

So we find ourselves a place where we know that Zack...Zack...Zack...needs more care than we can provide, more money than we can procure, and more attention than we can give.

He needs a new home and thankfully, we have found that new home for him, via a friend, where he will get all of the attention in the world, the care that he needs, a warm fireplace in the winter, and plenty of sunlight in the summer.

and it breaks my heart hard to love a dog so much, that i never wanted.


Charlie said...

I am so so so so sad to hear this. But I totally understand.

Zack is an amazing dog. I've never met one like him. Those few days I spent caring for him when it snowed and you were gone for the holidays are ingrained in my memory. He alternated between being the best, most loving, cuddly, warming companion I could ask for in the midst of a Seattle snowmageddon (Alexis notwithstanding) and being the most stubborn, obnoxious jerkface when it was time for him to go for a walk in the snow(!). When I did finally get him out there I'm pretty sure he made us walk for as long as possible before he let anything go. Just to show me what misery he was experiencing.

But he is a wonderful little guy. And I am honored to have been cuddled with by him.

Good luck Zack! I hope you find a home with a covered backyard and filled with treats!

karencronacher said...

This story broke my heart. All dogs are healing dogs. I am so sorry you cannot keep him.

Diane said...

That is the most precious and sad story ever! I hope that you can visit Zack as I cannot imagine he understands why he has a new family. I'm sure it was difficult to come to this decision...letting our children (and pet) go off without us is really hard...but sometime exactly what they need.