Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Story About Zelda

Better times: Zelda at play

Yesterday Mr. Beale and I had to put Zelda down. She’d been ill for quite a while, and yesterday morning she let us know that she didn’t have the strength to fight any longer.

Zelda was my first dog, abandoned by some puppy dumpers at Land Between The Lakes. She managed to find her way to the Admin building where I saw her on my way in to work one morning. She was covered in sores, ticks, and fleas, looked pretty emaciated, but nevertheless did her best to lay on the doggie charm in the hopes that someone would give her a forever home. I was the sucker who bit. That was 15 years ago and I never looked back.

Zelda was a charmer. She looked like a Lab that got shrunk in the wash; her small stature gave her a bit of a Napoleon complex in that she hated any dog smaller than her. But she loved children, I think because they were her size.

One summer day after work Zelda and I were hiking LBL’s Honker Trail--one of my favorite places to hike because one travels thick woodlands, gentle meadows and gorgeous lakeshore, all in 4 1/2 miles. Wouldn’t you know, halfway into the hike Zelda disappeared after a critter, not to be seen again.

This had never happened before and I grew increasingly alarmed as I called and called for her, but no Zelda. As the light began to fail I grew seriously worried that night would fall with me in the middle of dense forest with no flashlight. I was kicking myself for my stupidity, hiking alone in the late afternoon; when you work in a place like that you tend to ignore all of the safety guidelines you tell the tourists.

Just as I thought I’d be forced to leave Zelda lost in the woods, I heard this great crashing through the forest. What should I see but a huge fallow deer buck with a massive rack of palmated antlers, running through the trees not 200 yards away. I stood in awe at the sight of this magnificent animal--then busted out laughing as I saw my little dog Zelda right on the buck’s heels, a huge grin on her face. She had flushed a fallow deer buck and by God she was in it to win it. Never mind that the buck was 10 times her size. What the hell did she think she'd do with it, even if she managed to catch it? It was hilarious.

She was big in heart and spirit. That’s what I loved about her. Without further ado, a Zelda retrospective:

Time for a swim!

Does this cat bed make my butt look big?

I can haz war on Christmas?

This belly won't rub itself!