Its been a little under two weeks since I posted a blog about my dog Zorro's process through his illness. I was inspired to write this last blog after noticing a significant improvement in him after feeding him raw food. I thought he would make a full recovery and we would share at least another two years together. My hope for his recovery didn't stop until yesterday morning, when after refusing food for five days I finally accepted he was dying.
Zorro came to me at about eight months old. I already had his sister, Roxy. Zorro and Roxy were born close by in a trailer and were among a large litter of puppies. Their parents, Little Girl and Tuffers, were also brother and sister. Zorro was the pick of the litter and at eight weeks old he was adopted by a well to do family in Calabasas. This family did not want a dog over 45 lbs and as Zorro grew it became clear he was going to be large, approximately 90 lbs. Zorro was returned to the trailer and I was asked if I wanted to adopt him. My response was 'If he gets along with cats then I'll take him'. When I first saw Zorro I was stunned by how handsome he was. A black and tan with two blue eyes, he looked like a Shepherd/Doberman. When he met my cat Syd, he didn't bat an eyelid, obviously he was used to cats and this decided his fate to have me as his new person.
Zorro was incredibly loyal, and undeniably my dog. He followed me everywhere and watched over me. True to his name he had several adventures. When he was two years old he went missing for five days. It wasn't until then that I realized how attached I was to him. I literally could not sleep, eat or go to work. I searched for him constantly and when I finally gave up, he slammed open the front door, ran upstairs and jumped on top of me, kissing my face. This was the best surprise I could ever have wished for.
When he was four, he was bitten by a rattler while we were out on a trail ride. I literally had to carry him out of the park and rush him to the vet. After two days the vet said he was dying and wanted me to put him in a very expensive treatment center. Using my gut instinct I knew I had to get him out of there and back home where he could be with me and Roxy. I had a horrible time with vets and vet techs up in my face telling me he would die if I took him out of their care. Well, this was not the case, Zorro survived and again this was a beautiful gift to have him back in my life.
This year Zorro's right eye clouded over and he went blind. After a few months I noticed a cyst attached to his eyeball. It was growing rapidly and was giving Zorro headaches and throwing him off balance. I took him to the vet and they said he needed to have his eye removed immediately. Zorro seemed to make an excellent recovery from the surgery, literally chasing rabbits the next day. This was in late May. By July, Zorro was having problems eating. He was throwing up a lot. The symptoms disappeared and he seemed back to normal. This was temporary as he again became ill and was off his food. In October I took him to the vet because he was having trouble walking. His paws were infected and he was prescribed anti-biotics. The vet was concerned because he had lost 13 lbs since his eye operation. This is when I changed his diet to raw food and he seemed to do much better. Again, this was temporary because he started refusing food.
A client at the ranch suggested I work with her husband to help Zorro. Steve came to the ranch and brought with him his healing apparatus which included a copper pyramid frame. Zorro and I went in it together and Zorro responded very well. His paws healed and the next day he was walking better than ever.
Despite this improvement, Zorro was eating very little. Steve came back and did some more work with us both. He cleared some attachments that Zorro had to my dad. Being a constellation facilitator I understand about hidden loyalties and entanglements. I had an epiphany that Zorro's symptoms, chronic digestion and sore feet matched my fathers symptoms he suffered with most of his life. On top of this my dad was incredibly handsome, and like Zorro, had blue eyes.
Steve told me to buy some marigolds to tie around Zorro's neck, because this particular flower would give Zorro strength. When I bought the marigolds the label explained how marigolds were connected to the day of the dead. That morning I noticed one of my potted plants that stood at the entrance of my house, was dead. Hastily I removed it, hoping to keep the grim reaper away.
By now Zorro was refusing all food. Steve suggested I take him to Petsaurant in Sherman Oaks. Marc, the owner, is an herbalist who gives free nutritional counseling for dogs. When I read his reviews on yelp I cried. I felt he was Zorro's last chance. On his website Marc says he is available 24 hrs to give advice, and answers on average 300 texts that he receives every day. I was able to make an appointment with him on Thursday, the fourth day of Zorro not eating. When I arrived, his assistant said that Marc had cancelled all appointments and had moved them to the next day. I was devastated. His assistant called Marc who was on his way to the emergency with a dog who had been horrible abused. After speaking with Marc he literally turned around and came back to give me and Zorro a consultation. He said that Zorro had a chronic fungal infection in his paws and that it may have spread to his liver. He told me it could be cured but that Zorro would have to accept food. He suggested a bunch of foods and I left feeling optimistic. Zorro, however, still did not want to eat. I rubbed food on the inside of his lip and he got up and puked. He was incredibly nauseous. This was when I realized that Zorro was dying.
Zorro had an incredible dignified presence. He was a private dog and was not overly affectionate. Despite his weakness he still managed to go outside to eliminate. A good friend of mine came by to see Zorro. When he saw how he could still walk he suggested we force feed him. It meant lodging a tennis ball in his mouth to prevent him from biting. I thought about it but did not want to stress Zorro out. I strongly felt Zorro should have the choice of whether he wanted to eat or not. I thought about myself and how I would resent it if I was force fed or put on a life support system.
I asked Zorro if he wanted me to help him leave. I got a strong yes. At the time I thought this meant bringing in a vet to euthanize him. On Friday morning, the 5th day of Zorro not eating I asked Marc if he could suggest someone. He asked me if Zorro was suffering. I didn't know how to answer, Zorro was literally starving to death and I assumed that he must be suffering to some degree. Marc asked if he was walking, I said yes, and he suggested I give him more time to see if I could get him to drink pedeolyte. I agreed to wait and managed to get Zorro to drink a third of a liter. He perked up and I felt hopeful again. I tried to take him out so he could relive himself and he collapsed outside the door. That's when I knew his time was running out. Hysterical, I called a couple of vets for an in home visit and no one was available till the next day. 'Make him comfortable' was Steve's advice and Marc said the best thing I could do was to stay with him. I realized that helping him leave meant I be present for him, allowing him to die on his own terms. That evening, Zorro passed seamlessly, fully conscious with his one eye open, watching me as he had done most of his life. It was an intensely beautiful experience. I felt incredibly honored to be there at his transition at the same time facing all own my fears about death.
Later that evening, my friend helped me bury Zorro. I picked a place I knew he would like, surrounded by trees. There was something cathartic about digging his grave, knowing that my beautiful, loyal dog was going to rest here, close by. Roxy witnessed her brother being laid into the ground. She let out two yelps as she realized he was indeed dead. In a prayer, I told Zorro how he would now meet my dad, mom, grandparents, his grandparents and two siblings who were all on the other side. I imagined him with two blue eyes, a vital young dog panting a huge smile. This is how he wanted to be remembered. Rest in peace my beautiful Zorro.
RIP Zorro 11/11/02 - 11/08/13
by Sara Fancy