He was about 11 pounds of wild man. I'd never had a small dog, and he just took over my heart right away. He declared, from the first moment, that he was a. MY dog, and b. a border collie (even though he actually was a Papillon... but I never argued). Until about a year or so ago he never let me out of his sight. He was the Lord of the Bathmat... and his only preferred toy was one of my socks. He'd grab it up and run off with it - killing it. In fact, his nickname in rescue was "Sock Stealer".
He hated being dressed up, and only grudgingly allowed me to put a coat on him in really cold temperatures. He hated being picked up, hated being carried, and only ever sat in my lap under HIS terms. I was OK with this.
He loved going to dog trials. He loved making friends, and he loved going on walkabouts. I think some of my favorite memories of him are seeing him on walkies with the border collies at Julie's. He'd just dink dink dink along. Once he got going he was just in a groove.
He loved to run and run, and was all about some small dog zoomies. He didn't really play with toys, but he'd play with puppies and he'd play with me. This is my favorite picture of Zippy ever (blurry though it may be):
He helped Ginger to raise four puppies. I'd forgotten how much he loved playing with puppies until I came on this photo of Zippy and Nick playing (Nick was a little less than a year old). I'd also forgotten what he looked like with his tail up. Zippy, not Nick.
One of my favorite Zippy memories was the day he helped me teach Nick how to shed. I was out at Julie's house and I was teaching him how to shed with the big flock. I'd had such troubles with the flock clumping against my legs prior to that day. For whatever reason, that day the sheep were just splitting effortlessly. They were staying far enough away from me, and we were shedding fools. BAM and the dog came in. BAM! BAM! I was preening around muttering "Who's your daddy?"
Then I caught the barest hint of a flash of white in my peripheral vision. I kept looking and looking and couldn't figure out what it was. I'd turn around... nothing. It turned out to be Zippy. He'd snuck into the pasture (did I mention he was small?) and was following closely behind me, so closely that I couldn't see him for the junk in my trunk. When I finally bent over to see him, he said, "Hi Mom! Hi Mom!". He was sure that we were having an excellent adventure, and for sure we were.
Zippy just sort of did his thing, whatever thing it was that he'd decided worked for him that day. When we'd go on walkies he'd be on a mission - and he'd get in a groove and just GO.
This was a dog who actually loved children. The neighbor's child would come over after work, and knock on my door to ask, "Can Zippy come out and play?" We also had a child in the family with Down's Syndrome. Zippy played and played with that child, and didn't care if he yanked his ears or tail. Not only did he not care, but he took it as a sign of play. This was the same dog that used to bite my ex-husband. Go figure.
Back in July of last year (at 17 years old) he had what I think of as one of his last great adventures. We had gone to Robin's for the weekend, and took dogs down to the pond to hang out for a while. We sat under the trees while the dogs frolicked in the pond. As I sat there and watched, Zippy inched up towards the pond, and then suddenly (I thought) he fell in!
I ran down there to find him just standing in the water. It was up to about his shoulders (he was about 11" at the "withers"). Let me stop here to say that while Zippy had previously waded into a creek up to his brisket, he had never offered to get into a pond, and he'd never gone in past his bread basket. Anyway, he appeared to be just standing there looking around. From the bank we could just see his ears swiveling back and forth.
Assuming he might be in distress, I walked down to the bank, got in his line of sight, and waved him to me (he was mostly deaf). He crawled out, so I sat back down. Not thirty seconds later there he was in the pond again... standing... ears swiveling. The other dogs were splashing around him, and he just stood there.
I sighed, and went down to wave him out again. This time I encouraged him on up the hill... planning to go pick him up and move him away from the pond. That's when the little blighter took off running down the shore line towards the brush. He did an end run around me, and took off around the pond.
I just shrugged and went back to my chair. Fine. If he's that determined to play around who am I to argue with a 17 year old tiny dog?
A minute or two later he made his way back to the pond and quite intentionally went in. He was up to his withers in the water... just standing and looking. I thought to myself, "Well, I guess he really intends to be in the water. If it's that important to him I'll just leave him be".
I'd say he stood there maybe 10 minutes that way until...
He started swimming. Yes, really. There was Zippy, out there tooling around the pond.
He could not get his face out of the water. He has some arthritis in his neck, so he was tooling around with his ears sticking out, but his face was under water.
So out into the pond I went. Fully clothed. I could see his little eyeballs, and I could see the air bubbles coming out of his nose. I grabbed him, and the second his little face cleared the water he started shrieking at me. Obviously he hadn't taken in any water. To add insult to my already soaked injury I got bogged down in the mud at the bottom of the pond and was having trouble getting out. My boots got sucked down in there, so I grabbed at the grass along the edge to try to help me get some purchase (all the while having a vocalizing Zippy under my arm).
Julie left the peanut gallery (which incidentally was practically falling on the ground laughing - I would have been) and helped pull ME out of the pond. I had to set Zippy down... and the minute his feet hit the ground the blighter took off running again.
Fortunately for me he got caught in the brush again, and Julie yelled "Quick! Grab him while he's stuck!"
I squished my way over there, snatched him up, and carried him back to the van. He yowled at me the whole way. While I toweled him off he yowled and flopped like a fish, and continued to voice his displeasure.
Clearly he was not finished having fun. The nerve of me.
Then there was the day that he and the sheep faced off. When he turned to walk away, this is what happened:
When he started letting me out of his sight about a year ago I knew that we were starting the long walk.
On April 9, 2012, I made the most difficult decision to let him go. His mind, body and spirit were failing him, and I waited until he had one last good weekend. We went to Julie's and had a small walkabout. The day I let him go was one of his better days, comparatively speaking. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but I wanted to let him go while he still had a little dignity left. I wanted him to go with good memories and a little bit of recognition and clarity. I am amazed to find what a giant hole such a small dog can leave.
Safe Journeys, Zippy. I know we'll meet again some day. I know you're digging some serious zoomie action at the bridge little man.