Monday, May 21, 2012
Zeke Beauregard Clifton was not typical. In fact, he was far from ordinary. He had soulful brown eyes and soft, wavy, fawn colored hair. He had the soul of a warrior and the grace of an Olympic athlete. He had a wonderful sense of humor. He showed courage, generosity and kindness towards others.
He also had long floppy ears and a large black snoot. Zeke Beauregard Clifton was a red-bone hound dog.
My new husband had rescued him from the animal shelter seven years before, in the late summer of 1993 Zeke was estimated to be about 5-6 months and at that time was so malnourished and in such bad condition that the women at the shelter begged him not to adopt the animal. But, of coarse, he did.
Over a period of a year my husband nursed Zeke through red mange, fattened him up a bit and gave him lots of love. They had become inseparable best friends. Zeke loved to ride in the truck and often sat quietly waiting (in the drivers seat) for his masters return.
Zeke was a good father and helped his mate, Elle with the birth of their eight offspring. Freckle (soon to be Moose), Brownie, Thor, Heidi, Biscuit, Zeke Jr, Whitie, and Blackie. He cleaned them up as they emerged and snooted them over to her to feed. He was gentle with them even as they nipped at his ears and tail. One of the puppies that were kept, Brownie grew to have a father-daughter relationship with him. He grieved when she later died of heart worms.
I met Zeke when he was 7 years old. Zeke had gotten into a “territorial” fight with his son, Moose. A battle he nearly lost. He had been badly injured and could not live in peace with his son. His mate, Ellie (a black lab) and his son Moose. Moose looked like a large dog-shaped Gateway computer box. The renter in the house knew and loved all three of the dogs, and was a good caregiver to each. She realized at that time, there was no way the 2 dogs would get along together.
In December of 2001, we were living in a small 2 bedroom apartment. We were upstairs and Zeke had to learn to climb up and down the stairs when we took him for walks. He also had to adjust to wearing a leash. He was very patient with us and he loved parading down the street. In a short time, he grew to know the neighborhood well, especially the other dogs.
We managed to find a small “postage-stamp-size” trailer on a couple a acres of land. It had lots of trees, which made both Zeke and my husband very happy. My husband worked a rotating shift and would often be gone nights. Zeke was very protective of both myself and my kitty Soffie, whom he would play with as if he were a puppy. I never had a restless night with Zeke there to protect me.
One evening, soon after we moved I heard a strange scratching noise at the front door. Then a gentle whimper. This was not like Zeke who could bring down the house with his woof. I ran to the front door to witness Zeke with a large slice of pizza in his mouth. He held it by the crust very gently as not tdamage it. He very gently placed it cheese-side-up at my feet. I was so touched that I was both laughing and crying at the same time. That was the moment that I knew how much I was loved.
A few years later when we would build a home on our land, Zeke was there to supervise and approve. He did hate to lose some of his trees, though.
Zeke loved to sing, especially Christmas music. He had a very good ear for tones and could actually harmonize with others. He really liked “The Chipmunk Song.”
On one occasion, we had come to a meeting that included the mayor of town. She also happened to run the local animal shelter. We had adopted our lab, Sally from the shelter, a few months prior. The dogs were excited to see her and we all ended up at the tail gate of the truck. They were licking her face and wagging their tails. When a police siren sounded and Zeke began to softly bay. Soon we all (including the mayor) held up our heads and howled along.
Zeke was approaching his 15th year when he developed a very serious liver disorder. Which, along with the arthritis he was already battling was a nasty combination.
Our veterinarian, who tried his very best to help, worked tirelessly until he found a combination of drugs that enabled Zeke to have one last summer with us. By July 23, 2009 the inevitable had come and the drugs were no longer working. He was in a lot of pain and could no longer keep food down.
We drove to the animal clinic with him in the back. Just as we were passing the bridge in Cedar Bluff he turned completely around and sat down. He gazed back at the water for a minute as if to get one last look. Then he slowly turned around and licked my face. He knew he would not be coming home.
He was shaking with fear and in so very much pain he had to be lifted onto the table. I held onto his head and my husband and I tried to comfort him while the deadly medicine was administered. I felt him relax and soon the life would leave his body.
I knew I had lost a friend that day. My husband was beside himself as we both grieved. Our other animals, Sally and Soffie, were very quiet for several days after.
We had Zeke cremated and in a pagan fashion. My husband assembled a funeral pyre for his ashes and said one last farewell to one of our family member and very best friend. His spirit is forever free to roam the woods he loved.