Miss Zula Mae

Last week I received a text from my friend and neighbor, Ruth, that her sweet 15-year-old dog, Zula Mae, was preparing to complete her "circle of light." For weeks, or maybe even months, they have known that Zula Mae's time was coming, and yet, she so frequently seemed like a pup. She still smiled when presented with bacon, perked up when Iris came home, gave running at the park her best shot. But bone cancer has increasingly made this old girl's days more painful, and so we met up at the park down the street from our house at sunset to capture Zula Mae with her ladies in their final days together. I feel so honored to have been able to give this gift to Ruth and Iris.

When I walked up to the park last Wednesday evening to meet them, what I found was Iris and Ruth dancing around Zula Mae, who was wearing Iris's sweater.

My girl, lightening the mood by goofing with the insta-camera. A highlight for 2011 and Franny's young life up to that point, was getting to be a part of Zula Mae's "rescue," when after missing for two weeks, she was found. Franny joined Ruth at the humane society, where Zula Mae was met with many hugs, tears, and doggy cookies. Franny still talks about how good it felt to be a part of that day. My little dog-loving girl holds a special place in her heart for Zula Mae.

This morning I received a text from Ruth telling me Zula Mae had left this earth last evening; I didn't plan to follow up yesterday's life announcement with a post about death, but it seems this is how the circle of light goes. Ruth said last week that saying goodbye to Zula Mae felt impossible, and I'm feeling a bit that way about writing this post. I think the words are best left to Ruth herself, I suggest you break out some tissue (if you haven't already):

Zula came into my life via being flung over my fence and abandoned by her vagabond caretakers, a mere month after her mama, Bear, gave birth to her and 11 brothers and sisters in the parking lot of the Oregon Country Fair. Her leg was broken and I, being in a life situation that was incompatible with responsible dog ownership, reluctantly decided to nurse this little pup back to health and find her a suitable home. Obviously the rest is history. I fell in love with the little blue-eyed pup and never found her that suitable home; Instead she happily tagged along from hovel to hove, eventually to more suitable accommodations. Zula, as it turned out, was a canine prodigy, mastering every basic dog command almost instantly, including potty training. Her best trick hands down was carefully howling "I LUV YOUUUUUU" causing many a jaw to drop over the years. Indeed, her brain was no match for her heart, as Zula Mae gave love easily, her loyalty unshakable, her spirit contagious... As for the best friend I have ever known, no thank you or tail wag or bucket of tears is big enough to convey my level of appreciation for the gift of sharing your life - Zula Mae, I LUV YOUUUUUU!