This letter from Susie Duncan Sexton to Zelda was written on Sunday, August 11, 2013Zelda

Dear Zelda,

Zelda and her Bonnie and Clyde companion Jack got captured on the lam by the local cops while veering back and forth between McDonald's and Wal-Mart. Scheduled for euthanasia, their mug shots got featured in the local newspaper prior to the July 4th holiday.

I extended to the shelter designated vet an offer he "could not refuse…"! I would "spring" for neutering (Jack!) and spaying (Zelda!) in addition to the battery of shots for each "convict" plus de-worming -- the entire nine yards -- rather than the doc receiving the obligatory, paltry euthanasia fee that would have transferred from city government to veterinarian. My bill totaled over 400 bucks...and that was a dozen years ago!

I brought post-operative "patient" Zelda "home" first. She had an endearing quality of utter submission, rolling onto her back and lovingly gazing at humans while batting her seriously Ginger Roger-ish eyes. Charming! However, her first evening on my back porch, she disassembled every board game, lamp, padded chair, and window treatment within her grasp. Vandalism at its very worst! I decided to teach her that the opposite of "submissiveness" is NOT a rampaging romp by Attila the Hun, via my instruction and encouragement NEVER to roll over again. I felt like a "dog whisperer" extraordinaire. At the height of her bi-polar behavior, I decided to name her "Schizophrenia" which my friend JoEllen advised against. Thus, "Zelda", the sadly nutty wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, stuck as the perfect nom de plume…the perfect designation under which she would write L-O-V-E into our lives and across the sky for a dozen years to follow! Yet, she developed into an amazing ALPHA dog worthy of a novel!

In a couple of days, strapping, muscular Jack and clueless Susie left the vet's never really having ever been officially introduced to one another…I might as well have been Santa Claus being drug across the heavenly horizon by Donner and Blitzen and Rudolph and all of them there reindeer combined with a team of huskies as well! He positively sailed once we exited the door, and the two of us careened allll over the parking lot…me at one end of the flimsy leash and he -- in all of his massiveness and his happiness to be "free at last" -- at the other!

Long (happy) story short, Jack and Zelda enjoyed a dozen years joined at the hip…together they formed an exquisite Remington sculpture…they HAD to share vet appointments -- none of that "one at a time" stuff-- or they would sulk and pout and whimper…they were so strong that once Don and I were pulled across the vet's office floor while sitting in our respective chairs in the lobby. Iditarod, here we come ! They were one. LIFE was good.

Gorgeous Zelda, the Alpha dog with the schizoid name, impressed us as a model of graceful serenity as the years fled by…then one sad day, she indicated that her life was nearing its conclusion. I gave her a gentle bath, and we petted her and scratched behind her still-perked up ears. She could no longer stand. We lifted her into our car, listened carefully to the veterinarian's advice, knelt down on his tiled floor on either side of her and held her and kissed her as the needle injected whatever chemical concoction it is that terminates life forevermore. The "rainbow bridge", a man-made concept for coping -- IF one buys into it -- does not, for me, describe the hereafter but the NOW, in other words, the "bridge" being our gift in real time of many quality years of nurturing and of being nurtured by a beautiful being.

Whenever rain falls upon our roof, or thunder rumbles, lonely Jack paces the length of the back porch, quietly whines, paws at the door alerting us that Zelda may still be outside in the dark…that we forgot to bring her inside to sleep alongside her companion of so many years, her playmate, her best friend. I pat his head and offer him a soft blanket and a pillow and speak to him with assurance that Zelda sent me to spend some time with him and to make sure he is comfortable. Her name on my lips calms him. Now, how about that?


Susie Duncan Sexton