Animatch Blog

Zorro’s Story as Told by His Guardian

We originally adopted Zorro from Animatch in April of 2007.  He was apparently found on the highway nearby, roaming freely.  My girlfriend at the time and I were looking for a buddy to keep our Jack Russell/Papillon mix company during the day when we worked.  We had that dog (Jeffrey's his name) for 7 months and he really needed a playmate.  Zorro was so well-behaved when we introduced him to Jeffrey.  They didn't immediately start playing with each other when we got home, but it only took about 4 days for them to become genuine brothers smile

After my ex and I separated, Zorro didn't fare so well with us apart.  Sometimes I watched Jeffrey and my ex had Zorro, or vice versa, or both and none.  When he was paralyzed when I came home one day, a distressful trip to the DMV revealed he needed 3 thousand dollar surgery.  My ex couldn't commit.  I held Zorro in my arms and he looked at me with a "it's ok if you have to put me down Daddy" look, and my heart melted.  I took a loan to pay for his surgery, and it was worth every penny and more.  I rehabilitated him over the next 5-6 months by walking him while I held the base of his tail.  He grew so attached to me over this experience, that he always cuddled so tightly and slept with his head on my neck for the next 6 years of his life.

My current girlfriend had been his mommy for the past 4 years, and was as much in love with him as I was.  Zorro was happy to have two loving parents again.  He never took our love for granted and we never spent a second around him without cuddles galore.

There were no signs over the past weeks of what came next.  I went with him on his morning walk on Tuesday.  He was as happy and vigorous as ever.  I said goodbye to him when I left him in my bedroom (part of his usual routine, with the radio on, 2 treats, stuffed animals, and his pillow staircase to go up and down from the bed) and said goodbye for the day, while I went to work.  My girlfriend Val got home 15 minutes before me and found him on the floor with his tongue out.  I ran home as fast as I could when she called me, and we rushed to the vet, suspecting a stroke.  Right before, we had him on the couch while I went to get his leash, stuffed animal, and blanket for a possible stay over night.  He jumped off the couch to make sure I was still around (like he would normally do), and this, unbeknownst to me, while he was bleeding internally from a tumor on his liver. 

The DMV said he was hypothermic and was able to bring him back to a lucid state.  He was moaning.  He had a large tumor,  and they told me they'd have to pump him with fluids and give him a blood transfusion in order for him to be operable.  At that point, they could operate and hope that the tumor was not spread (cancer), and maybe just something on his liver they could remove by taking only a portion of the liver.  It might be benign.  Cancer would mean radiation and chemotherapy most likely.  The chances of an outcome where he'd recover were 15 - 20% they said, and with that 2 weeks to 6 months of life thereafter.  I was willing to take the risk.  My mother, who loved Zorro like her grandson and has had cancer 3 times herself came to the DMV to meet us and see him.  Upon a second soundscan, they noticed the tumor was larger than they thought at first, and now gave him 3 to 5% chance of survival.  Still something to cling to.  The vet said he doubted he could make any good of the situation, and the tumor in the soundscan was too familiar to my mother's experience, that she couldn't let me try to move forward on an operation decision.

I held Zorro's little head in my hands, and told him he was the best little boy to ever come into my life.  Val held him at the same time, and so did my mother.  I looked right into his eyes, trying not to cry, so that he would feel like he had done nothing wrong, and watched him die on Tuesday night.

I'm an emotional wreck right now.  There are feelings of guilt (even though the vet and everyone else said that surgery would have been useless suffering), feelings of anger at the unfairness of the situation, feelings of desperate, helpless sadness.  We always watched him like a hawk, and fed him a special diet to make sure his back would  remain strong after surgery.  There were no signs of cancer.  Cancer crept up and stole him from us.  All that said, my life was changed for the better when Zorro came into my life, and Animatch was there to make sure that connection was made.

I thank you from the very bottom of my heart for that.

People have to know what a powerful relationship dogs can give us.
All they ever want is love, and they will give it back tenfold.


In loving memory of Zorro,

Nick Guérin

 

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