Saturday, June 29, 2013
Zora's Story, A Runaway Rests In Peace
Zora was a runaway. A rescue dog from Hurricane Katrina who, during the storm got run over by a truck. Hip-shattered and in the road, she was picked up by a vet, operated on, healed and put up for adoption. Some nice folks from Pine Island, Florida adopted her. But Zora had a habit of running away. She ran this way and that, got lost in the mangroves, ran down the road that links St James City to the south with Bokeelia to the north. Lots of people knew Zora -- a dog as big as a small horse trotting to who-knows-where isn't invisible.
I met her at the Pineland Post Office, which I believe is the second smallest PO in Florida. There she sprawled, all seven feet of her, head to tail. And when someone new walked in, her head popped up, she looked, and lay down. It was as if she were searching for someone. We adopted her from the people who had adopted her who got her from the vet who saved her from being run over more than once.
One of our first days with Zora she slipped through the front gate and ran down the white shell road, turned right and headed for the old runway for small planes. I jogged along after her for about two miles or so. She's not going into Matlacha Pass, is she? Yes, she was. And did. I swam after her. The water deepened as I got hold of her collar and turned her about and sort of hauled in to shore. We were both out of breath. She looked me in the eye. "Is this the way it's going to be?" I asked. She looked up at the sky seeking a rift in the clouds. She studied the solid wall of mangroves seeking a break in the leaves.
That was nine years ago. Zora did settle down, mostly on my lap as you see in the photograph. That was her favorite place to be when it stormed, and it storms a lot in the summer on Pine Island. Sometimes when the thunder was thunderin' and you happened to be sitting on the toilet, she bumped open the bathroom door with her nose, came in and sat down on your knees.
When Zora wasn't running away or sitting on you, she was stepping on you. How I miss, now that she's gone, that reminder of how heavy a big Great Dane is. She weighed anywhere from 150-160. And when her full weight was on your bare toes, you really felt the presence of that dog. Another thing -- her head was always at perfect level with your dinner plate. Once she sunk her teeth into a block of Spanish smoked cheese from BJs. She liked the block so much she didn't eat it, just carried it proudly around the kitchen. That enabled us to disengage it and shave it where she'd slobbered, but her tooth marks were always there.
Now all these things weigh heavy as I type. Her teeth went deep into that cheese, but her love went much deeper into my heart. I wish she'd come and stand on my foot. I wish I could run down the landing field to find her swimming to Cuba: I wish she'd come sit on my knees. A wish is a wish. But a dog is a dog.