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Zuzu is God's Way of Saying "Sweet"

She woke me up in the middle of the night.

She needed me. . .

Oh, get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking about my dog. She had to do a poo.

She is very sick.

That dog had the same urgency to go as I did to start typing when it hit me that I had some memories worth saving. When I started writing this she was outside in the damp yard. Usually she would bark sooner - but she has grown tired in the past few months.

Cancer has infected her utterly. Her liver is like a slice of Swiss cheese.

I got her when she was two and a half. It was 2007 and I was rounding out my first year of law school. I told my wife that I need to get a dog or I was going to go crazy. The wife didn’t want a dog, but I wasn’t going to give up. I found a dog I loved and I pursued her until the wife caved.

She was a shelter dog - a “drop off.” No further information was available, but the County said she was a Husky/Chow (I now say Husky/Samoyed but that’s just a guess). I saw her at the shelter - she would press her chin against the kennel door and slowly slide to the ground as the softness of her fluff overcame all friction imposed by the smooth concrete floor. I asked the staff if I could take her to the outdoor play area. We got out there and she COMPLETELY ignored me. She couldn’t be bothered with toys or play. She just stood and stared through the chain-link - begging to continue into the adventure beyond. But when I turned to leave, she followed.

That day was a microcosm of our entire relationship. She would need me so bad until she got what she wanted. Then she would go on, loving but aloof - interested in little but the next adventure. If we weren’t going for a ride or taking a hike, she was bored.

We used to walk almost every day and hike every weekend - for miles on end. She loved to get dirty. If there was a muddy puddle, she would find it. If we passed a stinky pond, she would lay down in it to cool off. And almost every walk, some child would be heard to shout “Dad! That’s a wolf!” Or, “look at the fox, Mom!” And moms would start to take their kids to the other side of the street while I’d say, “it’s OK! She’s friendly.”

Except sometimes not with other dogs...

She would get in fights at the dog park. She had a sass that brought everyone around her. The other dogs - large groups of them - would chase her round and round the park. But they would always stop when she told them she was done playing. However, sometimes another dog wanted to be as special as Zuzu and it would challenge her for the title “Queen Bitch.” And then I would have to step in and handle the dogs so they didn’t kill each other - while the other owner looked on, frozen in horror. Usually I was pulling her 45 pounds off dogs twice her size. I never saw her start a fight - but I’d wager she finished a few.

Other animals hardly stood a chance with her. One day, I once watched her swallow a bird. A robin. It landed too close to her and she snatched it up before it knew what happened. I tried to stop her. I grabbed her mouth and was able to get a wing - but only a wing. She gulped it down in one swallow. Then she ran victory laps around the yard like she had just won the dog lottery! Meanwhile - after cleaning bird blood off my hands - I was on the phone with the vet to make sure the bones wouldn’t shred her intestines. Rabbits, squirrels, mice - she ate them all.

But she was always sweet with her cats. She has known many cats in her life. And while she might try to chase the outdoor cats, she always knew that indoor cats were different - and she respected that difference. I don’t think a cat ever understood her dog play - but she loved them just the same. And if she thought you might try to hurt an indoor cat, she would protect it like her own child.

I too protected her like my child. I claimed her as mine in a sad divorce. I gave up the most precious things to have her - furniture, an heirloom clock, stuff. It was so bittersweet - but I knew I was getting the best part of the deal, no matter what I was giving up. I was getting the sweetest dog I know.

And now, she is dying.

She came back in from the rain. As i was typing, I heard her quiet but brave cries come in through the window. She wasn’t loud yet. She was just whining. And it was a hard night for her. It was 77 degrees Fahrenheit here in southwest Ohio on February 24, 2017 but a major storm and cold-front moved in. The temperature dropped 30 degrees in a few hours and we witnessed an incredible thunder storm as the cool storm air battled the unseasonable warmth. She never did well with lightning (or fire). She used to try to dig a hole in the shower every time we lit a match.

The thunder and lightning had frightened her yet again. I wasn’t there and she needed me. I opened the door and she ran inside and quickly laid by my feet for protection.

Inside that independent, fiery, fluff-ball is a sweet little girl who is desperate to be loved.

She is the wild child - the leader of the pack. And at the same time, the sweetest dog ever.

That’s my dog. She is so sweet. And God - I don’t want to let her go.

And despite all her imperfections, her independence, temper, and more, I would do just about anything to protect her.

I’m struck by just how much my God has done for me - when I have been so much less faithful than even my dog is to me. Despite my temper, pride, and selfish desires - He keeps opening the door to me. Despite my sin - He still loves me.

I know you’re listening, Father. You know me. And you know my dog. She’s my dog - my Fuzzbutt - Zuzy-Q - Snooze-Zoo - Zoozapalooza! That’s my dog. She is my Zuzu.

Father I know that word: Zuzu. That word is from you. It means “sweet” in Hebrew. And my dog is sweet.

I know I will lose her soon, and I pray it isn’t too painful - for her or for me. But I know it isn’t going to be easy. Still, I will always cherish the memory of my beloved friend.

Thank you, Father, for my sweet dog.

Thank you for my Zuzu.

Brushing is always interesting.

I remarried this lovely lady. She loves Zuzu too.

Playing "doctor" after a bad day at the dog park.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Cheese? No thanks!

Someone found something stinky to roll in.

Please don't leave.


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