I’ve spent the last couple of months trying to learn to live without Zato, but there are a couple of other losses throwing their emptiness into the mix.

About a week before Zato left, a wonderful little pup named Eli passed unexpectedly.  Eli was one of the dogs we rescued, and he was adopted by a great person.  She would only travel if Eli stayed with us, so for the last few years, Eli has spent every Christmas and a good number of weeks at our house.  Everyone got along great with him, and he was just a joy to know.  Here he is with Zato:

Eli’s Mom was getting on in years, and we had agreed to take Eli if she passed on first.  We loved Eli and he was truly part of our pack, albeit part time.  He had all the nicknames and songs like the rest, and our favorite nickname for him was Captain Gravybeard!

So when the phone rang about a week before Zato died and I saw the caller ID, I smiled because it was Eli time!  I was dumbstruck when Edith told me he had died suddenly.  An autopsy showed that he had a ruptured tumor that no one knew about, and nothing could have prevented it.  By the time I got that info, Zato was gone, and I was too screwed up trying to process his death to mourn Eli.  But after a few weeks I began to think about Eli more and miss him, because I truly loved him.  Then, just as I still felt so overwhelmingly sad, I also started to have some happier moments…

Then came yesterday.

I had mentioned before that our Hound girl Tinkerbell was battling mast cell cancer.  She had two surgeries, the second in February, and the surgeon felt he got it all, and I believe he got all of the tumors.  But within a month, that crap came back with a vengeance.  For the last few weeks, I have been trying everything to stop the ever-growing masses around her neck and chest, to no avail.  We had an appointment with the oncologist yesterday, but when I got up, Tink told me she was tired.  She had been going downhill the last couple of days.  So instead I called our wonderful vet, who said to come right over, and after he looked at her, we agreed it was time to let her go.  It was peaceful, like Tink was, but I am in such a dark place now. But I want to tell you about her, because she was Zato’s friend, and the most gentle, kindest soul I have ever known.

Tink started her life as a hunting dog.  At some point she was injured (the shelter people think by a bear) and she lost part of her jaw on one side.  That never stopped her from eating everything she could, though!  She was literally dragged into the shelter on a catch pole, and she was terrified of everything.  She had ZERO chance of adoption, so the rescue took her.  Then we found out she had heartworms, but we raised the money and got rid of them!  Here is her video from 2010.  It shows the first time she came to me wagging her tail.  She was so sweet.

I grew so attached to her that we adopted her!  The last 8 years have been so beautiful with her.  She and Zato were especially close. She got along with everyone – dogs, cats, kids….I never, ever worried about Tink.  She was truly a best friend and I miss her so much.  I told her yesterday that Zato would show her around at the Bridge.  I like to think they are watching over me right now, playing and waiting until we can be together again.

Tink & Boodie – my Hound girls:

I love you, Tink.