My heart hurts for a dear friend who just had to part with his best friend Zelda. As is the natural course of life and death, Zelda moved on and my human friend is now left to reflect on the impact she had on his life.
I know you readers can relate to the depth of gratitude we feel to our canine companions. And while the hole left in their absence seems bottomless for a time, the lasting effect they have on bringing out the best in us can perhaps offer some balance.
While all of our fur kids are special in their own ways, many people have one that stands out- one that in some way took the lead- encouraging an otherwise reluctant or cautious human to step up and take a leap of faith they would otherwise have kept far enough out of view to even contemplate.
For my grieving friend, Zelda was that one. He accidently stumbled upon her, emaciated and struggling to hang on, during one harrowing day of animal rescue in post Katrina 9th ward of New Orleans- a pursuit already outside of the limits he'd ever expected to find himself. Zelda's very existence called upon this human to redefine himself in a matter of seconds.
Having guarded himself to assess and avoid risks in life - following years of methodical planning- suddenly there was Zelda. Through one eye of blue and one of brown, she lay perfectly still but staring directly at him. She was calm and centered, but also vulnerable and broken in the skeleton she had become.
My friend now describes his acute awareness that their random encounter became the defining moment in his life. To save her life, he had to choose a path of action contrary to the risk-averse foundation he'd painstakingly laid beneath himself.
Instead of producing anxiety or ambivalence, Zelda's plight rendered him clear and focused. His move to risk everything and save her was instrumental to securing the survival of them both.
And the leap taken in that moment ultimately revealed the unique gifts they each had to offer, both respectively and as a team of two.
The dedication and purpose that my friend discovered in that moment undoubtedly saved the life of magical Ms. Zelda. It also motivated him to apply his methodical approach to a cause that was formerly beyond his boundaries, but is now an integral part of his identity. The Dirty Dog Squad, a rescue group he founded on the heels of Zelda's rescue, continues to save so many 'diamonds in the rough.'
Able to see the potential within each and every shelter dog in need of a helping human hand, my grieving friend has embarked on yet another life saving endeavor- one to honor Zelda's legacy specifically.
I will share more about this very worthwhile foundation in next week's post.
For now, please read my friend's heartfelt parting words to his beloved Zelda.
You brought me unimaginable joy and leave me with unbearable sadness. The greatest moment of my life was miraculously finding you, broken and starving. Through the years, you showed me courage and loyalty beyond belief, and I am humbled every day by the devotion of your friendship. Our time together was stolen from us far too soon, but your huge magical presence is greater than life itself, and I feel you with me every day. The best part of me is the piece of my heart you touched the moment we met, and I now give you to keep forever, so I can remain your companion on your journey. I miss you terribly, and am grateful we have the treasure of our memories of our times together that I will cherish for as long as I live.
Goodbye, my sweet, beautiful Zelda.
I feel so fortunate to have known her.
Dr. Pia Salk
Sending a big hug to Veronica who Zelda also loved dearly.
And thank you to the very wise Jim Archer and Angela DiLillo for helping Zelda in her final days.