Thursday, May 29, 2008


Where the Red Fern Grows
by Wilson Rawls

This is a more personal post than usual. Our household is very sad today because we lost our beloved dog, Zeke, this morning. Zeke was 13 years old and had been my dog since early 1995. He went through all kinds of things with me - the most amazing being his instant love for both of our kids, from the moment we brought them home from the hospital. He appointed himself the boys' guardian and would look at me reproachfully if he thought I was lollygagging in meeting one of their needs. Zeke had been in declining health, but over the past few days he had a rapid deterioration. We had gone away on a short trip for Memorial Day, and something drastic happened while we were gone - on Tuesday morning he suddenly could not stand at all, and usually could not even sit up. Our vet suspects that Zeke had a stroke of some kind or maybe even a brain tumor. We could have spent thousands of dollars on diagnostic tests, but it seemed clear that Zeke was suffering and even with a firm diagnosis there was little we could do.

We brought Zeke home last night, hoping that being in his familiar surroundings might perk him up. We tried many times to get him to stand, to no avail. E. and I had to carry him in a towel (like a sling) to take him outside. He was clearly in a lot of pain and whimpered and yelped a lot. At about 5:00 AM this morning, E. and I decided to put an end to it. It just seemed like no way for a funny, zany dog like Zeke to live. We took Zeke back to the hospital at around 8:30 and the vet euthanized him while E. and I petted him and told him we love him and what a good dog he is. Zeke slipped away peacefully, I felt his heartbeat stop before all the anesthetic was even administered.

I've been thinking a lot today about Where the Red Fern Grows, a classic book by Oklahoma writer Wilson Rawls about a young boy who loses his two dogs. I remember it was the first book (AND the first movie) that ever made me cry. It was a story that expressed the painful loss we feel when one of our faithful four-legged friends dies. As an adult and a "dog person," I find the human relationship with animals even more amazing than I did as a child. In my adult life I have now had two dogs who have shown me what unconditional love is and who have embodied grace in my life. Maybe sometime I will be lucky enough to have another, but not for awhile, probably several years. This loss is so painful that we will just have to live with it for a time.

People have often asked me if I believe that we find our pets waiting for us in heaven or eternity or whatever we call the afterlife. I do. I cannot mentally picture a place or a state of being that does not include these creatures who love us in such a gloriously uncomplicated way. I do not claim to know how it all works, but I take comfort today in the vision of sometime having Zeke snoozing at my feet again.

Reverent Reader


At 5/29/08, 12:16 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We know what a big loss this is for you all. He was a sweet dog and amazing with children. Hang in there.

The Duffys

At 5/29/08, 7:04 PM , Anonymous Pam said...

Oh I'm so sorry to hear about Zeke! I know how much you loved him! I am thinking about you all sending you lots of love!

At 5/30/08, 10:09 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear that sis. Even though Zeke and I had our moments of headbutting back in the summer of 99, he was a good dog. He will be missed.

yer brother.

At 5/30/08, 11:36 AM , Blogger Reverent Reader said...

Yeah, Bro, I remember when he ate your wallet and your boxer shorts. Hee Hee.

At 5/31/08, 9:51 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been wondering how Zeke was doing, and feared the worst. My sympathies are with you, Ed, and the boys.


At 6/3/08, 9:53 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

..and my hat, the brand new polo shirt, a portion of my shoes, etc.

But hey, who is counting???

-yer brother

At 6/4/08, 10:29 AM , Anonymous Nancita said...

I'm so sorry to hear Zeke. After about 8 months I can finally talk about Max. I understand your sadness.

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