Saturday, February 5, 2011




(Zeke – enjoying the sun at his favorite campsite.)

If you knew me personally or even spent some time near me, you would know that I am generally not regarded as a man of few words. Suffice it to say that my reputation is that I’m rarely at a loss for words. Sometimes, they are on target and others, regrettably, go far astray of their intended points. My siblings and I have lost both of our parents to cancer and, even at those times, I found that words had not abandoned me. The last time I recall begin truly unable to speak was at my wedding 28 years ago. Today is not such a day as I find myself…

…sitting in front of my blank laptop screen waiting for my cell phone to ring. The call will come from the veterinarian treating Zeke, our 10 1/2 year old Chocolate Labrador Retriever. The call will either grant me relief and hope or, as I mostly fear, the decision to usher my friend out of this world without pain and with as much compassion as I can muster. It isn’t a place I want to be at the moment yet it is part and parcel of sharing one’s life with other sentient beings. I fully realize that, in the great mix of all things, many people are facing much, much more serious situations than I at this moment. Still, it is my moment and the unsettling fear is real for me.

Zeke, the namesake of this blog, has been a member of my and the Navigator’s family since we brought him home as a 10 week old pup back in August of 1999. I can summon up images of him riding, well really sleeping, in the Navigator’s lap as we made the trip home from Hickory, NC to our residence in Bethel, NC. The little bundle of sweet smelling puppy breath and dark eyes would become “God’s gift to me” so that I might learn patience – a trait I still struggle with daily.

Those of you, who have been owned by a Lab, know that they have ways of getting into the most ridiculous situations through their immense energy and joy in life. As a youngster, I can recall this 50 lb. mass of movement running with such wild abandon that I thought he might injure himself at any moment or, at least, take out a small crowd of people if his “brakes” failed to stop his headlong dash for some object of desire. Such an eagerness to run and bring stuff back to me had been unknown to me with other breeds of dogs with whom I’ve been lucky enough to share oxygen.

I recall the great fun Zeke had when he carried off a carpenter’s reciprocating saw and then led him on a merry chase for 30 minutes or so until the carpenter finally gave up due to being mostly out of breath. Zeke has helped me understand instinct and simple the joy found in doing something when I’ve watched him get up and take a leisurely swim in a friend’s pond for no reason other than it was a warm summer day and swimming beckoned.

So, as I sit here waiting on the phone to ring, my thoughts are of the happier times and the moments shared. My hope is that I’ll soon hang up the phone with a sense of relief knowing that Zeke has some more time and, by extension, that we will have more time with him. My experience tells me this isn’t likely to be the outcome so my thoughts also turn to the “old man” that he has become – the gray bearded elder of the house.

Two different people at the Vet’s office this morning told me that he looked like he should be sitting on the deck enjoying the sun and watching things go by. He will – I’m just not sure whether I’ll get to share it with him again.

Thanks for listening (reading),

- Zeke

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