Farewell to Zack, a “throw-away” dog

My dog Zack died today.
Zack was just eight years old and like all your dogs are to you (I am sure), he was very special to me.I am not writing this story to make you all miserable with me.
Heavens knows if you love your animals you are either going through this too, have gone through this, or WILL go through this. All true animal lovers know and recognize this awful pain.

The point of my story today is to showcase some issues in our society that so desperately need to be fixed…and why I believe in Best Friends/Pets Alive and their mission. Above all, I truly believe that THIS organization can accomplish the goals they lay out in their master plan.

So now let me tell you about my sweet dog, Zack. First off, his name was Zachoroy. ZackOrRoy. That is because when he came to me, his name was Damien. We looked at him and KNEW that had to go. You see, Zack was a Rottweiler and Damien was the name of the vicious, Satan-possessed Rottweiler in The Omen. So we knew the name could not stay and we looked at him and he was very goofy and silly looking and we just could not decide between Roy and Zach and so ZackOrRoy was created.

So Zackaroy came to me as a result of a call from my good friend Anjie. Anjie is an animal control officer in Massachusetts. At the time, the shelters there, at least in her area, put down all Akitas, Pit Bulls and Rottweilers within 72 hours of their coming into the shelter if not claimed.

These breeds are vicious after all.
Can’t be trusted with people.
Most of them attack their owners or viciously bite someone at some point in their life.

Right?  Oh PUHLEASE.
Just stop it.

How absurd is this? How many dogs have gone to their deaths because of this STUPID, yes STUPID misconception? Why don’t we put to death or at LEAST PUNISH people that CREATE these very stereotypes by training dogs to do what they think is fun. Michael Vick is just one case of this type of abuse. Better that he get punished than the dogs he ‘created” in my opinion.

So here we are. All over the country, breed specific laws are being developed and implemented and good people go and testify that these stereotypes are just not so and some judge somewhere that possibly never owned a dog in his or her life is making the decision that it must be right to ban certain types of dogs. Why not just ban certain types of PEOPLE?

So that is the first problem I bring up about the problems with our society and dogs. Breed specific laws. Stereotypes of sweet dogs. Banning them.

Best Friends regularly fights this and even testifies in courts to try to help stop these awful laws.

Well, so back to Zack. So Zack spent his 72 hours at the shelter and my friend Anjie desperately tried to find his owners, working late into the night and making call after call and finally, she did it. YES, she DID it! She traced them from a rabies tag left on the Zack – ahem – Damien – and went to their house with Zack and said – “THANK GOODNESS I FOUND YOU! HERE IS YOUR WONDERFUL DOG ALL SAFE AND SOUND!”…and they hemmed and they hawed and they admitted they were on their way to the shelter to ABANDON…I mean…err “donate” their wonderful dog to the shelter because they didn’t want him any more, when he suddenly LEPT out of the window while they were driving and they could not find him.

In fact, later it was discovered that they actually tossed him out of the car while it was still moving and he chased the car for as long as he could see it and longer still.

OK, so that brings me to the next problem with animals in our society. The “throw-away” mentality. These same people would not think to shove their kid out of a car, would they? Well. Maybe they would. Still….how can people think animals can just be tossed out like garbage. The fact that he ran after them until he was too exhausted to go further and collapsed on the side of the road…does that testify at ALL to the fact that animals have feelings and emotions? That he may have loved them and been confused as to what was happening?

Do people just not believe that dogs or cats or animals have any feelings at all? Why have we made it ok in a society to accept dogs at shelters so easily? Why don’t we give people a little more of a hard time? Maybe we are afraid they will then do something TO the animal and it’s better that they bring them to us, but I’d sure love to say things like “Why are you abandoning the animal that loves you and that at one point in time you accepted responsibility for?” “How do you think he is going to feel in this cement run, all alone all night on the cold floor when he is used to his own bed and the company of your voices and the smell of you cooking dinner?” Have you stopped at ALL to think how he is going to feel about this? How much more difficult it will be for him to trust the NEXT person that he may be LUCKY enough to meet and may take him home? Have you thought about what happens if he can’t or if this shelter or that shelter is full? If younger and prettier puppies come in, what this shelter will do to YOUR dog? Have you thought this through? Do you care? What kind of person are you that this is so easy for you?

That is what I would like to do. My staff keeps me away from people that want to dump their animals.

Wise staff.

We had one woman want to “exchange” her black cat for a cream colored one because she had navy blue carpet and now she had beige and the black cat shedding was marring the look of her room. Could she just exchange this cat for a cream colored one?

Another guy dumped off this gorgeous red irish setter because he was moving across the country and he would just “get another dog” when he got there.

Why do these people think that one animal is replaceable with another? Do they truly not realize that their dog or cat is attached to them..or that the animal might not do well in a shelter environment? Did she stop to think that her cat would be put in a room with 40 others and might HATE that? Or that it might never get adopted and live in the shelter forever?

Did that guy think he could just get another dog? Oh what fun? What of THIS one that he had for SIX YEARS?? Was he not attached? I look at my dogs and I think…how is that possible? How could someone live with, interact with, and care for an animal for six years and then have no problem just dropping it off and going on their way? I can’t understand it.

One of BF plans is to educate. Start with the kids. Teach them about animals. How they have emotions and feelings just like us. Try to make a difference. Can we? Can they? I hope so. I believe so.

So here we are with Zack.
A throwaway.
Easily replaceable.
A breed that is vicious.
Let’s go on, shall we?

Let me talk about muzzles. Zack always had mysterious hair growth on his nose. I could never figure it out. It sort of turned the other way. Then I saw a dog with a muzzle on one day and the hair was bent that exact same way. I thought oh my goodness. What would it take, how long would he have been in one to make his hair STAY that way permanently?

Zack is the sweetest, friendliest dog. He is TDI certified. I took him to children’s classrooms and old age homes. He was the most gentle dog I have ever known. Why would they muzzle him? And LEAVE it on him? Ohhh. I understand. You see…Zack had a LICKING “problem”. He was VERY affectionate. You HAD to turn your head when hugging him or he would simply lick you to death. During all his cancer treatments, some very painful, he would just lick the doctors and nurses until they were belly laughing. He’d have the whole room laughing as they tried to do procedures on him. He didn’t care. He loved people. People loved him. He was very sweet. Why would people MUZZLE such a dog? My goodness.

This is part three of what I want to talk about. How can people be cruel to animals? How can you look into those innocent, trusting eyes and harm an animal? So many people do. How? Why? I can’t even imagine. I once saw a guy kicking his dog. Not viciously, but kicking it, as entertainment. I went biserk on him. How can people watch dog fights? How can they starve and hurt animals? How? Here I am begging for just one more day with my dog and millions of people throw them away, abandon them, put them down or harm them.

What is the difference between us and them? What is it? I have spent many hours wondering what it is. Would getting them as children help? Teaching them about animals? Bringing them to shelters like ours and showing them when they are young? Will it help? I hope so. It’ll be the next phase of Best Friends and Pets Alive. Education. Helping. Teaching. A mission of love and respect. Maybe we can make a difference. We need all of you to do it. Your donations. Your volunteering, your love and your support.

Zack was a great dog.
He filled my heart with tremendous joy each day.
He was a great, the BEST, trail dog ever.
I suffer so much at his loss and I think about all those just like him that are still being abandoned and dumped and mistreated.
Thank god for all of you who reach out and bring them into your homes. Who teach your kids how to interact with them. That click the DONATE NOW buttons on websites like this. That come down on your days off and walk dogs, or clean litter pans or help staff clean up. Thank goodness for all of you … and me… that have a Zack in you home. That love these dogs and show THEM that not all people are out to hurt them.James Herriot said that dog lovers will have many great dogs in their lifetime but if they are lucky they will be blessed with one TRULY EXCEPTIONAL dog.Rest easy sweet boy.
You take my heart with you.
Days won’t ever be the same without you…but because of you, I’ll continue to do this and continue to look at other throw-aways and KNOW their potential and their ability to love.
Thanks Zack.
You taught me a lot of lessons.
I am going to go now and try to teach others.

Filed in Why we do this by kerry on Jan 27, 2008.  There are 20 Comments

20 Responses to “Farewell to Zack, a “throw-away” dog”

  1. Della Oliver Says:

    I recently lost my best friend Molly. She was 15 and she had cancer. I am devastated by the loss. I have eight other cats. Mikey, Maggie, (Bridget, Becky (they are sisters), Henry, (Timothy, Amos and Andrew – they are brothers). They including Molly were given a new chance at life and rescued from the street. I can never figure out what makes a person tick when they just discard their animals like trash.

    I think you are a wonderful person but you couldn’t be doing what you do if you didn’t have that certain something that makes us animal lovers keep going on. That my friend is true love from the bottom of our heart.

    Sorry about your loss and keep up the good work.

    Della Oliver

  2. armorcats Says:

    Here’s another reason. Barclay, the 3-legged, FIV+, doesn’t so much like other cats, cat was adopted by a great guy and is now living like a king in his perfect new home! I get periodic updates and the stories just get better and happier each time. And Barclay’s new Dad thanks me every single time we talk for his sweet, wonderful companion. I could not have asked for a better ending for my big lug foster cat and I know that the folks whose lives he touched at Pets Alive are just as thrilled.


  3. Sara Says:

    Love your story. Of course, I cried my eyes out while reading it. I feel the same way as you do. And I ask myself , can people that throw away a pet like it was trash have any real love for anyone else (including their kids) , I don’t think so !.
    I have 3 disposables with me. A dog (Dewey), a rabbit (Trixie) and a small parrot (Kiwi). But right now, they are very spoiled and loved.

  4. Judy Meek Says:

    Amazing story. Like you, I just can’t imagine throwing an animal away. I’m the guardian of two disposable Irish Setters; one was battered and both were neglected. We adopted them, spent a fortune getting them straightened out. They are the most wonderful, loving creatures. I couldn’t bear to part with them. They are worth it all. They are just so full of love it is amazing.

  5. Elaine Says:

    I’m in tears. This is the most amazing story I have read in a while. Thank you for all you did for Zack. May you be rewarded,
    as you have already been with his sweet memory.

  6. Linda Brink Says:

    This is too much sadness in too short a time for a spirit that, more than most I know, was designed to soar. I’m so sorry, Kerry, for yet another painful loss.

    Throw aways–yes. People do throw lives away. They hurt them, neglect them, don’t try to understand them, can be incapable of appreciating them, destroy them. The balance in the equation is this: people like you.

    Zack came to you–his gift, your gift. Of all the dogs and people and places in the world, why–your paths intersected. Fortune smiled. Happiness bloomed. To Zack, time was irrelevant. He only knew he had you for life–a reason, I’m sure, he felt compelled to share his joy with everyone. A truly happy dog!

    There was only one Zack. But, there are so many animals in need, waiting for someone to help them. And, you will–you’ll help them. With all your energy, and spirit, I know you will. And in your heart, dear Zack will stand with you, at peace forever.

  7. Stew Says:

    I’m sorry about your Zack. You’re doing a wonderful thing. Bless you.

  8. Chris - Rusty's Place Says:

    I just read your article and began crying when I read that he former “owners” (being nice) threw Zack out of the car. My God how hideous can people be! How can you live with living, breathing creature day in and day out and then just toss it away. When people ask me if I have kids…I say “Yes…11″ They look shocked and then I say..”Yes, 5 dogs, 4 ferrets, 1 leopard gecko and an aquatic frog…I also have 10 hermit crabs”

    Our dogs and ferrets are my “babies”. Our retired racer Lucy is going in today to have her teeth done. My husband and I are worried about her being stressed and waking up in a strange place and us not being there because she won’t understand. Luckily we love our vet and his staff and know that they will make sure to give her “some lovin” until we can come get her.

    I just don’t understand people…

  9. Judy Says:

    Dear Kerry,
    I have tears in my eyes after reading your story about your special boy, Zack. How wonderful that you gave him love, care, and everything he could ever need for the time you had him.

    I just lost my 16 year old little Shih Tzu/Poodle mix, a week ago. She had kidney failure, and I took care of her 24/7 for 2 months, before she passed to Rainbow Bridge. I adopted her from a shelter when she was 5 months old. Like you, my heart is breaking because I miss her so much. But also,like you, I know that the years she spent with me were the most wonderful happy times for both of us. I take comfort in knowing that I gave her the best possible life, and she gave me the best companionship I could ever hope for.
    Keep doing the wonderful work that you do—-yes EDUCATION is the answer. All any dog needs is some time spent with them, showing them love and care. There are no mean dogs —only mean people who teach them the wrong things.
    God bless you for all that you do, and remember Zack is waiting for you at Rainbow Bridge.

  10. Gina Says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of Zach. What a handsome boy!!! I adopted a “throwaway” from Pets Alive. Raider’s previous “owner” (hate that word) kept him chained outside all the time, then when he was evicted, just left Raider. How do you do that to your pet? However it worked out for the best…I have such as sweet beautiful boy and Raider has parents who love and adore him. Keep up the very important work you do, you and the staff at Pets Alive are WONDERFUL!!!

  11. Bonnie Says:

    When I came to Pet’s Alive months ago (I live in Trenton, NJ) and wish I could get there more often, I fell in love with Bruno and Bear Rock (Rotties). I could not take Bruno home, so I signed up as a monthly supporter so that Rotties (I have a female Diva at home)who wound up lucky enough to find Pet’s Alive, could be taken care of. Thank you for sharing your story about Zack.

    Living in Trenton I see more abuse of Pit Bulls (not fighting) but the massive tire chain collars and zero tolerance for any mistake the dog makes. I would love to start a program here in Trenton at the school level about animal care. Like Kerry points out, animal abuse must be taught. I can’t, no won’t, believe people are born avbusive to animals.

    And becasuse of the “breed specific” laws that are now being passed, more and more places will not even let me in with my Rottie. I also have a throw away (Doberman-Shepard mix) who was on death row at a Camden shelter because he was a “biter” or so the shelter manager said. He is one of the sweetest souls I have ever known and I feel blessed to have found him a day before his planned execution.

    I pray that when the day comes that I lose my Zoe & Jo Jo that Zach will be waiting for them on the other side to love them and show them the way.

  12. Frank Says:

    I just read yor memorial to Zack. He was as lucky to have you as you were to have him.
    May he rest in peace.

  13. Allison Says:

    I have to comment on this post because I own a few dogs myself and a few cats. My dogs that I have i intended on breeding and the somewhere realized that was not what I wanted to do anymore because I loved them too much and never wanted to see the puppies go. Needless to say I had made a commitment to the dogs that I had and I have been through so much to just hold on to them. I literally live in a home that has no insulation in the walls which i did not know at the time i rented it but later found out because the property allows for them to remain with me. In the time i have lived here a mother cat gave birth in my barn and needless to say i wound up with 2 of her kittens bottle feeding them and then came another litter and i wound up with 1 bottle feeding it so they too are with me now. I have no clue how people do what they do and my heart aches when i read some of the stories on how people look at animals as if they are disposable. I have been laughed at and called nuts and told that I have given my life up for my animals but the way i view it is the same way that I view having a child. I took on the responsibility and it is my obligation to see it thru and it is not the animals fault nor should they suffer. I would love to help out at your shelter I am pretty local to you and if you need help there I am available and so is my daughter. I am sure another 2 sets of hands would and could make a difference. I have alot of experience and I am here if you need a hand.

  14. Brianna Says:

    i just read your story and i completly agree. My dogs are my children i love them and i could never replace them. I recently watched my pitbull mix get hit by a car and die right in front of me it was the worst feeling ever to know that i couldn’t do anything to help him. I miss him very much he truly was extrordinary. I can’t believe how some people act about animals how can someone say they cant feel it or they don’t have feelings when its very clear they do.

  15. Veronica Bush Says:

    THis is a FANTASTIC THING you are doing here!

    Keep up the Great Work… people will eventually recognize your efforts!

    What a cutie that dog was too…

    anyways a friend passed this on to me a few weeks ago, so were out there.


  16. DINA Says:

    my dog is dieing of cancer and 2 yrs.ago i loss he’s best friend from cancer i ask why 2 of my dogs and someone told me god might be telling me that i got to stop loving my animal more then me and i need to think about me but i love all animal and they love me i have alot of animal and because of that every yr. from 2000 i loss a animal because i love them and they needend me god know that and the animal makes me feel love and isn’t that what god is about my dog that is dieing hes name is KEANU he will be with his friend MAKOA ,I MISS YOU AND LOVE YOU MAKOA AND KEANU I GOING MISS HIM ,HIM LOVEING ME:(

  17. Pets Alive Blog » Of grief and redemption Says:

    […] to save other animals as a way of making his life have more meaning. (You can read that story here: http://petsalive.com/blog/2008/01/27/farewell-to-zack-a-throw-away-dog/) .  He became a catalyst for me – to spur me forward to saving other animals and want to stop the […]

  18. Marilyn Waite Says:

    After a a purebred boxer, that was given to us because the family was too busy, died at 81/2 years, we adopted two boxer muts 8 years ago. They were found on the streets of LA….mangy,and one aggressive, probably fighting for his food. Now they are spoiled boxer dogs bringing us love and joy everyday. Also, they have saved our son’s life over and over.


  19. Kathy Medici Says:

    What a beautiful dog Zack was! And what a beautiful life you gave him! Your continued work to “help” the animals is a tribute to his life. I believe that education is the way to go for our future generations. I will call Pet’s Alive and would love to get involved in taking “our” message to schools. Maybe the children can teach responsibility and compassion to their parents!!

  20. Jonathan Says:

    GOD BLESS, BLESS, BLESS you! I have a little “MEAN” chihuahua that I rescued and honestly have never ever been more blessed in my life!

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