In Memory of Zeke

zeke I have been training dogs for over 20 years. I have had the chance to witness firsthand that people have such an incredible bond with animals and we suffer so much with their loss.  Every so often I have a chance to hear a story of how I have impacted someone’s life, and here is one of those stories.

Years ago, I trained dogs for a woman to help her fosters so they would fit in better to their forever homes.  I got a call the other day from Jerry D., a man who had adopted one of those dogs.  He began to reminisce about how much I resisted letting him take Zeke the day he came to adopt him from us.  The call went something like this:

“I don’t know if you remember me, but I met you on October 2, 1998 when we came up from Long Beach, crate in hand, to adopt my dog Zeke that you trained for Miss Cooper.  Even though we loved him at first sight and I kept telling you ‘but we even have a crate so he will be safe in the drive in the car’, you said that we couldn’t take him unless we went home, thought about it and then came back another time to actually pick him up.

“You left me outside to bond with Zeke while you went back into your office.  About 10 minutes later (I guess you watched me play with him from inside) and said you thought it would be ok, that I seemed like I wanted to give him a good home, and I could take him today.  Apparently you just really wanted to make sure he would have a good home, because you also made us sign a contract that we would return him to you if we ever couldn’t keep him.”

At this point Jerry choked and paused a bit to catch up to his words.  I was wondering if something had happened 13 years later that he needed me to take his dog back.  He began to cry and told me that he had put Zeke to sleep the day before and he was just calling to tell me that Zeke had been his best friend and constant companion for the last 13 years.  His kids had grown up with Zeke and his wife walked him every day.  He was still a little shell-shocked over his loss, but his wife and daughter sent some thoughts about their life with Zeke.

I have shortened the notes to include the most special moments, and leave the family with some of their private memories.  Every day I wonder how many lives I have been able to enrich like Jennifer and Jerry, and how many dogs I have helped start on a great life like Zeke’s.  May he live on over Rainbow Bridge.

Mom’s note:

Hi Jonathan:
We’re forwarding some thoughts on our dog Zeke’s life that our daughter wrote up for us. She LOVES animals and was so good with him.  She helped teach Zeke many of the tricks he knew.  We got him when she was 11 years old.  She had a great time with Zeke.  She’s now 24 years old, and about to move out and get married next year.  I (Jennifer) also wrote some thoughts not in an essay form, but just general info on Zeke’s life. Thank you so much for your interest in Zeke, and caring about our loss.  Thank you for the honor and privilege of owning Zeke.Jerry & Jennifer D.

My thoughts on Zeke by Jennifer

Favorite things to do: He’d play hide in the house with Jerry.  Jerry would hide, and whistle for him, and then Zeke would go try to find him.   We had lots of laughs with these games.Going for a walk ~ He was walked every morning for twelve years unless it was really storming and pouring down rain.  He loved his walk. So many of our neighbors enjoyed greeting us and seeing how Zeke was doing.  They could set their clocks by us – same place, same time…

Zeke loved Jerry and would follow him around and make sure he was alright before he found a place to snooze.    He would whimper and be sad, even if another family member were outside with him, because he wanted JERRY!

We took good care of Zeke.  He was used to routine and we stuck with it.   He was loved, petted, and talked to every day – and we miss him so very much.   I know that God blessed us with a healthy, happy dog – and we’re grateful we had him for these wonderful 13 years.  No other dog will replace him, for sure.

Daughter’s note:

Zeke came into our lives in October 1998, and on November 11, 2011, we had to say goodbye to a dog who had a personality much bigger than his short name. Zeke had quite a few passions in his life: walking, barking, playing, performing tricks, and of course- his Daddy. Below are just a few of the strong memories I have of Zeke and his wonderful personality… No one I know was ever so enthusiastic to greet the morning as Zeke was with his walks. My mother, Jennifer, walked him every single day for 12 years (weather permitting).  His excited leaping and jumping never stopped, not when he turned 13, 14, or even his last year of 15 years old. This always amazed me, and I would think, “Is he ever going to slow down and act his age?” Over time, he got very well trained to learn that he wasn’t going anywhere until his sat down and was a good boy.

Zeke and JerryZeke was an incredibly smart dog and knew a wide variety of tricks that I taught him when I was younger. I think I was most proud to teach him how to jump through the hoop. We were able to capture it on a home video, and it’s amazing to watch him sail through the air right through the middle of the hoop. I would even do a little stunt with him and have him go through, under, and over the top of the hoop.

Although Jennifer took Zeke for his morning walk faithfully every day, Zeke had an unwavering love for his “Daddy.”  He would dutifully follow Jerry throughout his various positions in the yard, keeping a watchful eye on him. In Zeke’s older years, he preferred to be napping in the sun, but would not fail to get up every so often to check on Jerry’s “progress” before going back to lay down for another round of sleep. We all knew Zeke was a “Daddy’s-Boy” from the start.

All things aside, Zeke was an exceptional family pet. Zeke was happy and very healthy for his entire life. At his last check-up when he received his diagnosis of kidney failure, the vet said he had the heart of an athlete and was in amazing shape for his age. I will always remember Zeke as the brother I never had, and a happy, joyful, exuberant member of the DiLeva family. We miss you so much already Zeke.

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