Zola was nine years old when we adopted her from the pound. She was a crazy, hyperactive staffy cross with a penchant for chewing her way through clothes, shoes furniture and rugs. No one told her she was getting old. She was still a puppy in her own mind.
We were gifted nine short months with her. You see, cancer had already taken up residence in her body when she came to us. A tumour on her spleen. We had the tumour removed but it was too late. The cancer had spread.
We packed as much love and fun into those nine months as we could. It was only in the last few weeks and in particular, the last few days that her quality of life began to tip in the wrong direction.
She lived life on her terms and she died on her terms. It was a hard thing to bare witness to, but I truly believe it’s what she wanted. Not that we had a choice. She died the night before we had planned her euthanasia. In my arms. She fought for every extra minute on this earth, her final heart beat strong against my hand.
Fucking cancer. I hate it. Zola was a whirlwind, a dog full of energy and life. She didn’t deserive to be struck down by cancer. She should have been allowed to live into old age. Cancer robbed her of that.
Grief for a pet is something many people don’t understand. I’ve given up expecting them to. My dogs have always played a special part in my life. They are our family.
Subtitutes for children?
Yes. Most likely. I’m not going to apologise for that or feel like a lesser person.
I don’t know what Zola’s life was like before she came to us. Whoever her previous owner was, they dumped her at the pound, flea ridden and covered in a number of lumps. She still loved people, though, despite being abandoned. Betrayed.
I have no patience for the excuses people give for dumping their pets. There is no excuse except perhaps serious illness or death. Even in death you can protect them by providing a donation to a rescue centre and with it, a second chance for your dog.
Tonight I remember Zola. She’s been gone two years now.
Miss you, baby girl.