Zack is a 10-year old golden retriever who has frequented my doggie daycare business since he was a puppy. Yesterday I learned that he has liver cancer and the prognosis isn’t good. He won’t be coming to daycare any more. As I sit down to write this morning I find he is all I can think about.
When I met Zack he weighed 25 lbs. and resembled a large, blond fuzz ball. We put him with some potential play pals and, without so much as a “howdee do,” he launched himself at them in full romp mode. He has never lost that jump-right-in personality.
Unlike most of his pals, even other goldens, Zack loves everybody. At 10 years old, he still joined whoever was playing. If a play pal got pushy, Zack would simply lie down with his feet in the air, explosing his soft blond belly. Come to think of it, that’s the pose he adopted with his humans too, and we loved rewarding him with a good belly rub.
Toys interested Zack less than things that move on their own, like dogs and people. I was always impressed that no matter the enthusiam with which he greeted you, he never jumped up or body slammed you, as many big dogs do. He wagged his tail and gazed at you with his irresistible big brown eyes, and before you knew it you were squatting down to hug him.
Zack is a heartfelt foodie. At snack time (and especially when people were eating) he was right there in the front row, flashing his big browns and smiling. What especially endeared him to me was that he never competed aggressively with the other dogs. Never tried to steal what another dog had gotten hold of. Never pushed others out of the way. He just focused intently on your hands and waited for a treat to come his way. When his turn came, he swallowed his treat whole (I’m sure he never tasted a thing); and resumed lookingly longingly at your hands. Zack could have sold snow to an Eskimo.
When Zack needed a rest he loved to sit on the floor next to any staff member who was sitting on the couch. He leaned against your leg and contentedly watched the doggie action until he was ready to play again. If he wanted lovin’, he’d lay his head on your knee and seduce you with his gaze. It’s a rare and precious thing for a dog who wants attention to ask nicely rather than jumping or climbing all over you (a regular event chez nous).
In fact “rare” and “precious” are good words to summarize how I feel about Zack. As I prepare to visit him at his home for the last time, I’ll think of all the times I’ve dropped him off there and be forever grateful that he’s been part of my life.