Why I Loved Zeke and Zeke Loved Me

A few years ago, I arrived home to a box at the front door. Since I am an Amazon Prime member and I’m a firm believer in that shipping things directly to me is one of the best things ever, boxes at the door are not uncommon occurrences. What was uncommon, however, is that the return address was not the vet clinic. It was still from Bridger, just not from the vet clinic.

Curiouser and curiouser.

I slit the box (using my best serrated paring knife, of course) and opened it to find a very large, very shiny package. Of macadamia nuts. From Hawaii. Four pounds of them! They were even lightly salted!

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FOUR POUNDS of macadamia nuts!

Only one person can be responsible for such largesse: Zeke. (Or at least Zeke’s other parents, the McNeills.)

It took me nearly a year to grasp that Zeke wasn’t actually one of my parents’ dogs. He was always home when I was up, so I made the outlandish inference that he was one of the herd. It was only when he was missing on one visit that I learned that he was the spare dog. When the McNeills are home, Zeke lives with them. When they’re off enjoying life, Zeke lives with my parents. Everyone one wins!

Zeke loved me because I let him hang out in the office with me while I worked. I tried to get him reliably and consistently housebroken in order to have him sleep upstairs with me when I was in residence in Montana, but he had been an outdoor dog for too long for that habit to take hold. He would have appreciated that thoughtfulness, even if no one else did. Dad thinks four dogs in the house is plenty, but it was all too easy to see how much Zeke would like to have been included.

Mum called a few weeks ago to let me know that Zeke had decided that it was time to let him go. He went from being an old but still joyful dog to feeling all of the indignities that come with old age in a big hurry, and the McNeills were bringing him down to the farm for one last love with my parents, one last love of dog biscuits, one last love before crossing over. I cried a bit, but knew that it was time. He already experienced what most of us wish for: love right up until the end. I had a letter from Joanne last week, telling me that they had Zeke cremated and that when I was next up in Montana, we could scatter his ashes at the farm. I was glad for the letter, glad for the inclusion. Part of love is learning to let go.

But in the meantime, I’m off to rename my chocolate-chip macadamia nut cookies. Four pounds is a lot of gratitude, and what better way to remember Zeke than to rename them in honor of him. Henceforth, they shall be known as the Much-Loved Zeke cookies!

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