Zero’s Last Ride

I’m going home to bury my best riding buddy. She’s been with me for over 10 years. She absolutely loved to go for rides. Just say the word “ride” and she was prancing in anticipation. In the van or truck she’d go. Queen she was. She couldn’t restrain herself when she’d see me put my helmet on. She would start to jump and yip—and off we’d go. Rain, snow, hot, cold…it didn’t matter…it was her favorite thing to do. She was as clueless as they come when it came to playing any other doggie games, but there was none better when it came time to ride.

It was fitting I found her on a mountain bike ride. I’m guessing someone drove her up in the mountain and dumped her. No collar and a bit wild, she didn’t want anything to do with me at first. I couldn’t coax her closer than a couple of feet. I soon discovered it was the helmet and glasses she didn’t like after I returned to where she was after my ride. She came right up to me and left me pick her up, then sat in the front seat like she owned the car.

I didn’t want a dog. I was on my own and had already tried a dog. That ended in disaster…blood in the street, bawling woman and a dead dog. But I couldn’t leave her in the woods. Maybe I’d find her owners or someone would take her. My folks had an empty kennel so that’s where she went for the first week. Coyote’s couldn’t howl at the moon any better than her, as my parents heard out night after night.

A week passed without a home. Parent’s pushing. I had a decision to make. Home she came. Zero the girlfriend. She had to learn steps but otherwise she couldn’t have been any better. No “going” in the house unless her new owner left her alone way too long. And no chewing anything she wasn’t suppose to. With little training she listened well and understood what you wanted her to do. And she loved to be loved and petted, and just wanted to be close to her new master.

Not to say all was bliss with Miss Zero. Like when she’d decide chasing deer was better than chasing a bike—she’d be lost for hours. Or jumping in the vehicle covered in mud after wallowing like a pig. Or when she decided to play chicken with a truck and ended up with two collapsed lungs and broken ribs. Or playing with a skunk at four in the morning the day we were to leave on vacation. Or the hundred-plus bladder stones she carried around with her, which had to be surgically removed. Or when she tried to eat a porcupine. And drive me crazy getting hair all over my clothes because she had to lay in my closet.

But she was the sweetest dog and the best companion a guy could have. She loved me, she loved Karen and she even grew to love that pesky puppy, Pisgah, that came to infringe on her turf. And she loved to go on rides.

She got sick. We’re not sure what caused it…age, lyme …whatever… but the fever was too high and the doc couldn’t get it down. She wasn’t gonna get better so we had to say goodbye. So I held her tight, and told her what a good girl she was as she took off on her last ride.

I keep telling myself she was just a stinkin’ dog. Get over it. But as my eyes tear up, I know she was more than just a dog. She was my ridin’ buddy… she was my girlfriend. It’ll be a long time ’til I’m over her.

Have a great ride Zero. I’ll catch up to you one day.

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