Jet, Champ, Hercules and Clyde

Dear Mark,
I am a loyal listener and a loyal dog-owner and dog-lover. We currently have 4 dogs, 3 labradors (Jet, Champ and Clyde) and a havanese (Hercules), who thinks he is a labrador…he is the boss!

But I wanted to tell you about our first lab, Zeus because whenever you speak about Sprite, I think of Zeus. He died 8 years ago after a valiant struggle against a pernicious cancer.

My husband and I got Zeus when we moved from NYC to the suburbs. we had been dealing with infertility problems and miscarriages. Zeus was our “firstborn.” he was born on the duedate for the first pregnancy that I lost. He was more like a person than a dog. He was very sensitive of our moods and even our thoughts.

Zeus saw me through recovery from neck surgery and through a very difficult history-making but at times life-threatening pregnancy. He learned to throw up in the toilet by watching me do it all day for over 3 months. I was hospitalized 6 times during the pregnancy and bed ridden when I was home. Zeus was my constant companion.

when the twins were born and came home from the hospital zeus accepted them unconditionally. there was never a limit to his capacity to love anyone. he even won over my mother-in-law who feared dogs all her life.

as the babies grew and began to crawl, they would be on the floor, zeus would run through the room and never touch them. when the twins were toddlers and it snowed, they would be standing in the snow bundled up like penguis. zeus would run past them and as he passed he would steal a mitten, but never touch a finger on their hands! they would wail and he would bring it back.

Zeus loved to swim and every year we would take him to the Adirondacks so that he could swim. he also came to Colorado with us for 2 weeks every year. He hated the flight but loved being there with us. when the hotel we stayed in changed their policy regarding dogs, they told us Zeus was “grandfathered in.” He was always welcome there.

when zeus was 10, he developed a rare but aggressive cancer, malignant histiocytosis. we tried everything available to us that conventional and holistic medicine could offer. the vets gave us little hope but he lived an additional 9 months with good quality of life as a result of the chemo and the holistic meds, and the homemade diet I cooked for him. It got to the point wher i was cooking for zeus and bringing take-out for the family. No one minded. zeus had tremendous will to live and i had a tremendous will to keep him alive. we had a very strong bond. when chewing became difficult, i pureed his food and fed him by hand. he ate because he loved me. I took hiim for a swim every day. It brought him pure joy, You could see how he loved it. he would somehow find the energy to walk down to the pool, swim a littlle circle and sit on the steps (and then a good roll in the grass before going in). On his last day, I took him for our ususal swim. I could see he was not himself, that he did not feel well. he swam his circle then he stood on the steps of the pool and just looked around 360 degrees. I knew that he thought was seeing the pool, the gardens the house for the last time. i also knew that he was suffering that day. I called my husband to come home asap. It was July 8, 1999. the twins were at sleep-away camp and our youngest was spending the night with a cousin.
when my husband got home, he carried zeus outside into the garden because he hdid not have the strength to walk down the stairs and go out himself. i was inside calling a vet who would come to our home to euthanise him. I did not want to do it because I had had to euthanise my horse as a teenager and was still traumatized by that experience, but I could not let zeus suffer either. while I was on the phone, zeus died in my husband’s arms in the garden he loved. We buried him in the garden and after 8 years I still miss him and cry when i think of that moment. i so regret not being able to be there to say good-by, and to tell him I loved him when he died. i have 4 other dogs now. I love them all, but you get one very special dog in your life and Zeus was it. we were so lucky to know him and to have him in our family.

I have ordered your book and look forward to reading it. I heard you say on the radio that some of the profits of the booksales would be going to animal shelters. I am the chairman of a committee (Shelter Our strays or SOS) in our town to build a new animal shelter for the town. we have been at this for over 8 years. we finally got the town’s approval 2 years ago if we raise the money privately. We have been actively fundraising for about 1 1/2 years. we have raised $641,000 of the $750,000 that we need from 817 gifts. a large part of our success is due to an “angel” who is matching every gift we have received since june, 2007 dollar for dollar. the shelter we are replacing was built 50 years ago. It is decrepit. it is full of asbestos, has inadequate heat, when it works, no air conditioning and very primitive prison-like conditions. i would be happy to discuss this with you further and to give you a tour of the old shelter and show you our plans for the new one, if you would consider making a gift to Shelter Our Strays (SOS). and it will have double the impact! We are so close to raising the rest of the money we need. if we can raise it this winter, the town will break ground in the spring on the new shelter. thank you very much for your consideration!

best regards,
leora from CT

One Response

  1. S Benoit Says:

    Your story broke my heart!