A Tribute To Zeke


December 25, 2003 – November 8, 2014

zeke 1Zeke, you’ve inspired so many stories, you deserve one more.  If feels so odd to not have you at my feet.  But you aren’t here anymore.  In fact, there is a fresh mound of dirt I can see out my window, you are there now.  What an awful day this has been, truly one of my worst.  I did not find you gone, I had to make a decision that even now, I wish I could undo.  But that is selfish on my part.  You are now at peace, I am the one suffering.  All the pain you have endured now seems to be in my heart.  Crazy, I know.  But isn’t that what love truly is, suffering the pain for another?

I love you Zeke.  From the first time I saw you.  You were eight weeks old, the runt of the litter.  We were getting a puppy for Carson and Chase, and for me.   I had experienced a year of loss; a baby born without life, a grandfather’s sad passing, an aunt who left this earth too soon.  I was tired of pain, of loss, and I wanted a new life to love.  And what better to love, to bring joy to a family then a cute little puppy.

We didn’t pick you first, we had your brother all picked out.  Then I looked over, and I saw your eyes and you tugged at my heart and I was yours.  Ten minutes later, you were in the car with us, lying between the boys, excited for your new adventure.

And since the boys were too little, 5 and 6, I was the one who took care of you.  And even though I wanted you to sleep with them, each night, I found you with me, curled up at the foot of my bed.  And I loved it.  I loved you.

zeke 2

You learned pretty quickly that the house wasn’t your toilet and down the steps you would trot, so very cute.   I think because you were so little, I tried extra hard to make you grow, and grow you did!    You ended up at 120 pounds, a far cry from the little 8 pound runt we brought home that day.

And oh how you loved to play ball.  You were born to fetch.  You would play as long as I threw the ball.  Again and again and again, I just could not wear you out, as much as I tried.  Because you were such a handful, my goodness Zeke!

You not only loved balls, but you loved shoes.  Nice leather shoes! I don’t know how many pairs you went through.  Too many before I learned to never leave my closet door open, nor leave a shoe in the living room.  And how many times I tried to hide the shoe of Bobby’s that you chewed, because I knew he would be angry with you.  I remember one time I had to go to Bible Study wearing two different shoes.  Thank you for chewing up one left one, and one right one, so I still had a pair.  Boy did the girls laugh that night.  And so did I.  Cause no matter how many shoes you destroyed, you were my boy, and I loved you.  And I always forgave you.

And you loved me.  So much!  You were so faithful to me.  You would follow me everywhere I went.  You never left my side, if I was at home.  And if I shut a door, without you with me, you would sit and bark at me until I let you in.  You loved me so much; you never wanted to share me with anyone.  If the phone rang, you would bark and bark and bark until I went outside and threw balls for you while I talked.  I never had a normal phone conversation in eleven years Zeke; they always occurred while I was sitting on the stairs, throwing balls for you.

And you would always fetch them and bring them back to me.  Always.

I remember when you were ten months old and you started getting very sick.  Nothing stayed in and you lost weight and when I took you to the vet, they discovered that you had eaten something that stuck in your intestines and was blocking you up.  And I spent $2500 getting it out of you.  And I didn’t care, I wanted you well.  And you came home and you didn’t even have your stitches out and you ran out the front door one day when Chase opened it.   And you loved running so much, you ran straight into the road and right before my eyes, a big truck hit you, square in the head.  And you did flip flops and then you jumped up and ran to the house.  And the guy in the truck cursed me out for letting you run free.  He didn’t know you had a mind of your own.  And I thought you were dead, but you weren’t.  It was late and I knew either you would live or not, so I sat with you all night, praying for God to save you, and He did.  And in the morning, I took you to the vet, he pumped you full of medicine and two days later, you were playing fetch with me.  Nothing could not keep you down.

Dogs are not to eat chocolate, it is dangerous, but you didn’t know that.  You ate so many of my chocolate cakes.  I lost count.  You loved chocolate as much as I did!  And it never fazed you.  Nothing stopped you.  You ate so many sandwiches, loaves of bread, cookies.  All I had to do was look out the window, and I would see the wrapper or the container in the yard where you would take your booty to enjoy!  Ah Zeke, I just couldn’t ever get upset, not truly upset with you.  No matter what food you would eat.  I just learned to not leave things out.  But just last week you found that stick of butter, and it was yours!

I don’t know how many times we would come home and the trash can would be all over the kitchen.  So we would put it on the counter, but then you figured out a way to get it down from there.  So then Bobby began the battle of the trash can with you.  And boy, was that something.  He tried everything, and you would always get to that can.  Carpet nails on the lid, strong spring action lid, Tobasco on the wood, nothing deterred you.  You were like Houdini, but instead of breaking out, you always broke in.  And trash would end up all over the floor.

But I never hit you, I never got angry.  Oh, I would yell at you.  And you were always sorry.  You always had that look on your face when you knew you did wrong.  You always knew, yet you continued … sounds like me Zeke.  Sounds like a lot of people I know.  We know we should stop, we are sorry when we get caught, but let me just do it one more time.  Your one more time was always innocent; unfortunately, sometimes our one more time ends in a lot worse scenario then trash on the kitchen floor.

We spent a lot of time at the vet, you and I.  I remember the time the boys were practicing casting their fishing lines in the driveway, and then Carson took them into Bobby’s shop to untangle them.  And I thought it would be a great family bonding time, so I brought you down too and in about a minute you had that fish hook caught in your tongue.  And then what a mess!   Me lying on top of you, holding your mouth open while Carson tried to pull it out.   And you trying not to bite me, and blood everywhere and Chase crying, oh what a disaster Bobby came home to that day.  And he couldn’t retrieve it either and off to the vet you went, once again.

And then it was time for you to be neutered and the first night home you chewed up all your stitches and what a mess I woke up to that morning.  Oh man and back to the vet we went and you had to wear that silly lampshade for a week until you healed.

Ahhhhh Zeke … you just constantly got into trouble.  Yet, your heart was so pure. So full of love.  We are so much alike, you and I.

I remember one night we came home and you were nowhere to be found, someone had left the gate opened and you wandered off.  I still remember the panic in my heart of looking for you, and the boys praying for your safe return and then when you were found, Carson saying, ‘See Mommy, God knew where Zeke was.’  Oh the lessons Zeke.

chase and zeke

And you loved to go on walks, and at first you would drag me to the canal and back, but eventually you learned how to stay with me and you loved those nightly walks.  How many nights … oh my, who will walk with me now?

And the night the pit bull came running out of that house at us, and me so scared you would get hurt protecting me.  Thank you Zeke for wanting to protect me.

And you learned to listen and obey so well, yes you did, that I didn’t need a leash any longer, you would walk with me.  I loved that you listened to me, that you obeyed me.  Just one word from me and you would come right back, never wandering off the sidewalk, always with me.  I know that is how God feels when I listen to Him.  When I obey, the first time.

I remember the night you started having seizures.  It was one of Carson’s Epic Birthday Parties, when he and his friends would play their version of hide and seek, in the dark, Manhunt.  And one of the boys kicked you in the head accidentally, and the next thing we knew, you were down and shaking and we thought you were dying and we didn’t know what to do.  And Bobby gave you CPR and I sat by you and cried and prayed for God to help you.  And He did.  And then the seizures came more frequently and it would take twenty, thirty, sometimes sixty minutes until, you were okay.

And I tried to give you medicine, but you didn’t like it and it made you sleepy and so we just asked God to heal you.  He didn’t take away the seizures completely, but you always got through them and they were further and further apart.  God answers our prayers in so many different ways, doesn’t he?  We always want instant healing, but Zeke, you were happy for the moment.  As soon as that seizure would pass, your tail would wag and up you’d go and back at it

And every single night, you would greet me at the door, so happy that I was home. And you would bark and bark and bark until we played.  Oh how you loved to play.

And no one could track a ball in the dark like you.  After all, you are a lab and labs retrieve.  And I would be in awe of watching you find a ball in the dark.  You would run a pattern until you found that ball. You would never give up. Sometimes it took you awhile; I’d even give up and go in the house.  But not you, you never came in until you found that ball.  What a lesson in perseverance.  You just didn’t give up.

And you didn’t give up on life … even with a skin infection that caused you so much pain; you would bite your legs until they were blood. You would scratch yourself raw, over and over.  And I would try this ointment and I would try that shampoo, and I would google and I would research and we would go to the vet, and nothing would help.  Or it would help for a bit, but then the infection would be back again. You were on antibiotics a very long time, hoping that maybe just maybe this batch would be it.  And as miserable as I know you were, you just didn’t complain.  You loved life, you loved food, and you loved Jack Jack.  And you loved me.

Zeke would still be here, fighting through the infection that would even run out his eyes, but his hips went on him.  A few weeks ago, he woke me up, barking.  When I went to find him, he was at the foot of the stairs, nothing was stopping him from coming up, but he couldn’t do it.  And I knew he was hurting.  If that big ole stinky dog couldn’t come up the steps to be with me, something was drastically wrong.

So, I made him a bed and brought him water, but he wasn’t happy.  And he would try and try and try and some days he made it up and some days he didn’t.  And Bobby tried to help him, but he was just too heavy.  And I knew, I had a decision to make.  Zeke had been miserable for a long time.  I would hear him night after night, long after everyone was asleep, biting and chewing and getting up and getting down and going in and going out.  He was trying to find peace.

Today, he found it.

I really don’t know if dogs go to heaven.  I was asking God that today, because I really want Zeke to be happy.  He deserves it.  Zeke and God have taught me so many lessons about love.  About unconditional love.  How to receive it.  How to give it.
Thank you Zeke for the lessons … thank you for the love.