“My mouth’s bleeding, Bert! My mouth’s bleed…Zuzu’s petals, Zuzu’s…There they are!”
A line from my all time favorite Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. Both my husband and I have loved this movie for as long as we can remember. It only made sense that our first baby, a Shepard mix, would be named Zuzu. It was definitely a lot better than her previous names, Princess (her name when leaving Anti-cruelty) and Sherry (her name when leaving the firehouse). I have to admit, I was a little hesitant in taking her in, when my husband was told she had to leave the firehouse. The house already had one dog and the chief didn’t want two. I always wanted a puppy and she was at least a year and a half and pretty excitable. Seeing the bond my husband had formed with her, it was clear that she was going to be our dog. It just had to wait until we moved out of our rental and into our home. Or did it?
It was about two weeks before we were going to move. She got out of the firehouse parking lot, ran right onto Chicago Ave. and was hit by a car. Luckily she only suffered a dislocated leg. We wanted to make sure she was taken care of, so she came home with us (October 2003) and has been with us ever since.
It wasn’t long before Chris’ dog, became my baby. I was the one walking her, feeding her, giving her treats, and spending the most time with her. Not that Chris didn’t want to, but his schedule was crazy busy. Every third day, it was just me and Zuzu. To say the least, we became very close.
It would be two years before we added another family member. Zuzu welcomed every one of the kids home from the hospital. I’m sure hoping it would be the last one. So many little feet running around are hard to avoid. Even though a growl has warned the kids on numerous occasions, there is no doubt she loves them all.
It didn’t take me long to include Zuzu into our photo shoots. Any occasion you could think of, she went along with the shenanigans. More times than not she behaved better than the kids.
Halloween was probably my favorite holiday. Every year since Riley was born, I would pick a theme. Morgan’s first Halloween was our last time for coordinating costumes. It was an end to an era.
Even though she has a severe case of alpha female complex and making friends has never been her strong suit, she has always gotten along with her cousins (our sisters’ dogs). They just needed to know who was boss and everything was fine. As my sister once told her Golden Retriever (who spends a lot of time at our home), “You’re in Big Momma’s house. Stay out of her way.”
It’s difficult to describe to those who haven’t had a pet, that they become a member of the family. The companionship, the sense of security, the unconditional love that Zuzu gives to us, is something that I am thankful for on a daily basis.
As she approaches her 12th birthday (though not really sure how old she is, having come from the shelter), it has come quite clear that her time with us is coming to an end. The stairs have become very difficult for her and living in a two-flat makes it even harder. The hesitation she makes before making the climb up, tells me she dreads it. Four months ago she stopped coming up stairs to our bedroom. She always slept at the foot of our bed. The thought of her downstairs by herself, makes me sad.
I promised myself that I would not dedicate a blog post in memory of Zuzu. I wanted to write about her in the present tense. I felt an urgency in writing this today, because tomorrow I will have to call the veterinarian. Zuzu hasn’t eaten anything in three days and I’m fearing the worst. The thought of losing her, brings me to tears.
The thought of not having her at my feet wherever I go, not having to clean the mound of hair off the living room couch, not being able to hear her howl for a treat, not adding her name to every card we sign as a family, not being able to give her a huge hug and give her a kiss on her muzzle, breaks my heart.
When the time comes, I will be by her side. Even though my husband believes there is no way I could handle it, how could I not be there, to say goodbye. I was unable to do that for my childhood dog, Rufus. I vowed never to make that mistake again.
She will always have a special place in my heart. I love you, Zuzu! You have made this family complete.