I slept in the lazyboy the last two weeks of his life. He liked to raise his head and see me there , it comforted him. The least I could do for the love of my life, my Zac, a 15 year old Dingo-Heeler.

The first time we met , Zac was only about 3 hours old. I hated crawling under that family\’s house up on cinder blocks. It was dark, wet, cobwebs everywhere. I crawled in mud, all the way to the center. The mother dog was nursing her babies like every proud mama. I never knew how they got a full bloodied Dingo dog here in the states but she was, they had papers to prove it. I shined my light over to a mud puddle when I heard a whimper. There he was, a shivering white mess, caked with mud. I immediately crawled to him and picked him up without even looking at the other pups. I gently carried him because the owners yelled up under there that I should let nature take it\’s course , that the mother had dropped him giving birth and had damaged his hips. She was going to let him starve to death, it was instinct. How could I have left him? How would I have slept? After much protest I got in my car and put him on my lap. One of his eyes was opened, don\’t know what happened there. I named him \”Zak\” immediately because it means \”God has remembered\”. I stopped at the grocery store , not knowing what to do or how to feed a newborn. So I did what I knew to do with my own daughter. Bought a baby bottle and baby formula. It was late. I washed him in warm water, handling him as gingerly as I could. The next day at the vet\’s office the news was grim. Zak had fractured hips, Parvo, heart worms. He said that even if he lived through those diseases , he would be crippled and never walk. Other than God, I don\’t know what drove me , I just did not listen. I could not look into those blue eyes and end his life when Zak was so determined to live on love alone. I poured my whole paychecks into this puppy. Arsenic for the heart worms, IV for the Parvo , around the clock, that I administered myself. I moved my mattress onto the floor and gave Zak his own pillow. He slept well next to me and I did not want him to feel distant. And even though tears are welling up in my eyes right now, I have to say that even though his eyes were not all the way opened he crawled, dragging his legs to hit the paper when he had to potty. He wanted to please his new mom so much. The baby formula was too strong so I and the vet created our own. The doctor got attached to Zak along with everyone that he met. He never had the chance to go through that puppy stage, frolicking , playing. He was an old soul in a puppy body. He just seem to touch everyone he met.

Several months later, I landed a great job as the animal warden in the county I lived. Every step seemed destined by God. I had to crawl under houses , make up formulas for babies, and run the animal shelter. Zak had given me a crash course of this pre-destined career. I was able to take him to work with me every day. He rode next to me like he was on duty, head up , looking straight ahead. He had kicked the parvo and heart worms, which the vet marveled about. He called Zak \”miracle\” every time he saw him. Because of Zak, the vet even volunteered his time at the shelter once a month. He gave discounted rabies shots to all who showed up with their pets and a free exam.

When Zak was about 4 months old he was walking slowly, limping but getting around pretty well. Nothing prepared me for that particular day at work when I witnessed yet another miracle. We received a call on the radio about a large bull running down Highway 6. On the way to that site I found out that this bull had been running for about 20 miles and that four law enforcement agencies were trying to steer him off before an accident happened. He was stubborn , however, running right down the center stripe. When I arrived I saw two police cars from different towns there, the sheriff\’s office and the DPS. They surrounded the bull, driving slowly like it was a parade. I just came up behind the bull because I did not know what else to do. Our windows were down half way because of the slowness of the ride. It was hot outside. Before I knew it , Zak jumped out of the window and went after that bull….he bit at his heels as the bull kicked at his head. I was frantically calling his name but he was on a mission. I didn\’t even think,  at the time, about the fact that he ran! He guided that bull off the highway…an officer ran ahead of the bull to open a farmer\’s gate to herd him inside. Zak accomplished what no one else could and he ran too! All the officers started praising and patting Zak. A couple of men wanted to buy him for their law agencies but my law enforcement agency said \”No way,  Zak is our police dog.\”  They even started training him to sniff out drugs. The local McDonald\’s deemed Zak a local hero when the story broke. He received his favorite for free every time we pulled in there. A large order of fries.

When I decided that I needed to move back home, here to North Texas, I came to the folks house while searching for my own apartment. When I did find one , it did not allow dogs. Zak had settled pretty well here, on this 7 acres. Mom fed him eggs and bacon for breakfast…she knew from the moment she laid eyes on him that he was special. It was hard to not sleep with him every night but I was still just a few miles away. I was with him often. When I finally got a back yard , I knew that I could not take him from my parents. He was home. Through the years he helped both parents through bouts of cancer. We have so many funny stories about him. Dad was bedridden for the past two years of his life. That coupled with the fact that Mom was battling cancer for the second (and then the third) time in her life, that all made me decide to move back home. I was divorced. My daughter was married and living in Germany. It was a great opportunity to bond like never before with my parents. And to reconcile with my Zak. One day, we were trying to get Dad to eat something. He had lost a lot of weight off of his 6 foot frame and we were preparing anything that sounded good to eat. At Dad\’s request, Mom and I made late night runs to find snails and sushi. We had a feeling that Zak was getting all of these meals. He would eat absolutely anything and never got used to dog food. We finally caught Dad red handed. He had asked for a tuna sandwich, he hated tuna, but we brought him one anyway. I went in to retrieve the plate that only had crumbs on it. He said that the sandwich was really good. I said \”Are you sure that you did not feed it to Zak?\” \”Oh, no\”, he replied. Zak slept on dad\’s side of the bed. Dad was very weak and Zak seemed to sense that. He steadied Dad as we sat him up to take care of his personal needs. Zak hardly left Dad\’s side but when he came out that evening to go to the bathroom there was mayonnaise all over his mouth! Dad was busted!

Zak became a rabbit hunter and just flew around with the folks other dog. It was bizarre to see them hunt rabbits, that is not a Dingo trait. But he lived life to the fullest and never ever was a disobedient dog. He would turn on a dime if we called his name and be by our side in record time.

Zak\’s health started to wane after Dad passed away and then  after our 18 year old Fancy dog died and our 17 year old cat died. His family pack mentality was obvious.

He started having leg problems due to arthritis so his nightly sleeping next to mom\’s bed every night gave way to him sleeping alone in the living room. It was closer to the front door to go out and do his business. Easter Sunday, very early at sunrise, we both heard a click, click , click down the hallway from each of our bedrooms. There was Zak standing next to Mom\’s bed. Our last miracle. He died three weeks later with Mom and I by his side at 2:30 AM. I had prayed that even though I had personally put down animals , I just couldn\’t with Zak. I asked God to take him naturally. He was on pain pills so he was not hurting. God granted that prayer.

The pain and grief comes in waves. After all, it is still so fresh. We had Zak buried next to the clothesline in the back yard. He accompanied mom with her wet clothes every day , warding off those big , bad, birds. He is next to the rose of sharon bush that he liked to lay under. Zak has left a mark that no one can erase from our hearts.

I want to thank Mark for this forum. It is medicinal and healing. I listen to you every day Mark. You keep me sane. And Shhhh! I will not tell a soul…your heart is bigger than anyone could imagine!

Patrice from TX