July 14, 2008
For the last fourteen years, one of the creatures joining the family at camp for July 4th week has been Zip, a collie who lived with Red-haired Sister's family. In his young days, Zip would spend the days at camp chasing chipmunks, leaping off the dock to swim, and eagerly retrieving sticks and balls. He loved the smells and freedom of camp. When Red-haired Sister and I would sometimes take the dogs for long walks on the country roads, I'd always volunteer to take Zip, because he was the easiest to handle of her crazy dogs.
This summer, Zip spent much of his time at camp sleeping. When he'd walk, he'd list to one side like a drunk staggering home from a night at the bar. Sometimes he'd fall, into the marsh or the empty fire pit, and he wouldn't be able to get up. He'd lie there, whimpering, until Tie-dye Brother-in-law would carry him over to a more comfortable spot. We all knew he was dying, but he didn't seem to be in pain. Wherever the family was, usually sitting in a circle of lawn chairs and blankets, he'd join us, stretched out on the grass, half-asleep. When I knelt down on the grass to take his photo, he tried to lift his head to look at me.
We all knew this was Zip's last trip to camp, and we said our goodbyes to him at the end of the week when it was time for Red-haired Sister's family to return home. We've all been expecting the email that came yesterday. Zip had a difficult night on Saturday; Red-haired Sister and Tie-dye Brother-in-law were up with him most of the night. But finally he fell into a deep sleep and died peacefully.
Posted by jo(e)