The little dog died. Zenna. We put her down last Thursday, right there stretched out next to Ann in the bed. She was Ann’s dog, half chihuahua, half Italian greyhound—a perfect balance of character. The greyhound mellowed out the chihuahua and the chihuahua lit a fire under the greyhound. She might have had meerkat in her too, because when she wanted your attention, she’d sit up on her hind legs with her front legs folded over her chest. She was often very serious, but just as often she made people laugh. She ran like a greyhound, fast and banking on the corners. She’d greet me by racing up and down the hallway of Ann’s house, over and over, riding the throw rugs like surfboards until she was exhausted. She did this up until the last month or two of her too-short life. She was only ten when she died—middle-aged for a small dog. No one could tell us why she was dying, what she was dying of. For some reason that hurt my heart the most. It seemed unfair (as if fairness came into it) that we should lose her to something unnamed.
Zenna loved a lap, which is why so many of my photographs are taken from behind her head, behind those long expressive ears of hers. I was always trying to see what she saw, trying to gain her point of view. She was such a kind dog. That kindness extended to Ann always, but especially at the end. I’m certain she lived beyond the time when she needed to die, and would have continued to, for Ann’s sake, if Ann hadn’t returned Z’s gift of love with a gift of her own: letting her go.
Often there are no words for these creatures who don’t pursue us with language, but with their big eyes and hearts. These images are my farewell to Zenna, and my wordless thanks. Two hawks and an osprey (an osprey!) circled Ann’s home in the desert as we carried Z’s body out to the vet’s car. The night before, an owl hooted from an ironwood tree close to the house. Zenna was enjoying some cheesecake at that moment, but she cocked her ears, then went back to licking the plate. My guess is that when the birds come for you, the promise of flight is not frightening, but a promise of freedom, release and return.
11/27/2020 10:44:14 am
Margie, this is such a beautiful eulogy to our dearly beloved Zenna bear. Thank you for bringing voice to the love that was her life. She will be dearly missed.
11/27/2020 10:45:58 am
A lovely tribute to a sweet soul. Her life was too short, but it must have been so happy with Ann's love and adventures with you. Did Ann give her remains to veterinary science in case Zenna could shed some light on what ailed her?
11/27/2020 02:53:58 pm
I never met Zenna -- but I have now. Thank you for bringing her to life as she passed through death. I'm sure she was communing with that pig, as well as everything else her intense attention rested on. And those ears -- I'm sure they heard wild, wonderful out-of-range sounds, even the early cry of whatever came to take her. Just seeing her image, reading your words, heightens my senses, opens my heart. Thank you..
11/28/2020 06:02:24 am
Love and safe passage to Zenna.
11/28/2020 06:46:11 am
Hard to descibe the pain of losing a beloved family member. Thinking of you and Ann
11/28/2020 10:58:25 am
Hello Ann and Margaret. So very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing the pictures. What a sweet and delightful personality. They leave such an empty space when they go, these unconditionally loving creatures. The world is weighted with such sadness and loss these days and your losing Zenna is an additional and cruel burden. Big hugs! Stay safe!
12/8/2020 06:42:57 pm
It brings great joy to know Zenna was deeply loved by all you graced by her presence. It reminds me to slow, quiet, and enjoy the four legged being of the feline variety who graces our home with her presence at this moment of fear and isolation. The darkness beckons, the reflections deepen, the cat purrs.
12/10/2020 07:11:42 am
For that little bit of time with Zenna at the creek, I am so glad to have met her in this life
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