A few days ago my 11-year-old German Shepherd, Zim, died suddenly and unexpectedly. Up until that moment he was happy and healthy with no signs of slowing down.
Earlier that day I arrived home from work and fed the dogs and we then went outside to play with a stick. Zim’s favorite thing in the world was chasing stuff. I’d throw a stick and he’d chase after it and and proudly bring it back to me. We’d then play tug of war with it and I’d throw it again. And again. He was happy to do that all day long. He loved it.
Once I'd had enough I called him into the house but he stood there defiantly with the stick in his mouth, staring at me with those pleading eyes of his. “Fine, one more throw,” I said. I threw the stick one more time, as far as I could, and he tore after it excitedly and brought it to me in the garage, like he always does. I gave him a treat, like I always do.
He went into the house but seemed to have trouble walking. I thought maybe he’d hurt his foot while running to fetch that stick. He then sort of hobbled back into the garage and lay down. He looked confused. He wasn’t even trying to get up.
I knew something was seriously wrong and immediately carried him to the car. I drove with one hand on the wheel and the other gently petting him. “Good boy,” I said, over and over. “You’re a good boy.” He lifted his head once and looked at me. He no longer looked confused. He looked, I don’t know, resigned. He laid his head back down and by the time we arrived at the vet he was gone.
I have always prepared for Zim not being around, as German Shepherds aren’t known for living long lives. But being prepared isn’t the same as being ready. I wasn’t ready. I’m not ready. I miss him terribly. He was a good dog and I loved him very much. I’m glad I threw him the stick one more time. One last time.
There are a bunch of photos of him here on Flickr.
Goodbye Zim, my good boy.