The Loss of Zeke

IFAW CEO Fred O'Regan and his dog Zeke.Zeke was a big goofy Rhodesian Ridgeback and my best friend.  He passed away earlier this year and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him.

Now Zeke wasn’t perfect – he was awful around food and could snatch a sandwich off of someone’s desk in a micro-second, often embarrassing me to no end.  He was also very strong-minded and dealing with him would be more like negotiating rather than commanding.

But when I say “my best friend,” I truly mean it.  We would take a good walk every day on one of Cape Cod’s many trails and beaches.  This was a big reason why he lived for fourteen years – a very old age for a big dog.  He was thrilled to go to the dump when I could get no one from the family to ever go.  They hated the smell which to Zeke was perfume.

He was an active dog right to the end.  I had a walk with him the day he died.

I am not a mystical person but sometimes you wonder.  It was a holiday when he passed and all three of our children were home.  It was almost like he planned to let go when the whole family was together.  He had a very merciful death, lying before the fire with our two daughters comforting him.  He was sleeping, his breathing went shallow and away he went.

Our family cannot talk about it without becoming just too emotional.  He was such a huge part of us.  Our youngest daughter, who has recently graduated from college, had not known life without Zeke since she was eight!

So, I really don’t have any great advice to lend to so many people who work with and support IFAW.  But I do know how deeply everyone cares about animals, and this led me to just write down my thoughts on Zeke to share with such a caring group. 

I am sure that there are many of you who experienced the same thing.  Just writing this makes me feel less pained.  That is the power of words.

The loss of a pet is often a very solitary grief. I have been helped through the process by the many animal lovers here at IFAW who knew Zeke, have lost animal friends in the past, and know exactly what I am going through.

If you would like to share your thoughts on what got you or a loved one through the loss of a pet, I hope you will leave your story below in the comments and maybe we can help other people going through the same thing.

-- Fred

Comments: 84

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

dear fred and family, i'm so sorry for your loss of your best furry friend zeke. i feel when animals come into our lives for short periods of time or for years . they leave an imprint of love on our hearts that will always be there. i to lost my amber girl (she was a kitty) we had her for 19 yrs and enjoyed very much. when she was alittle one kitten she came down witha mega colon and her big intestines had to be removed. she came through the operation fine and we took very good care of her. in her honor and memory we have 2 furry sisters who we love and they love us right back. i know that your zeke and my amber will be waiting on the other side of the rainbow bridge . hope this will help you and your family happy thanksgiving to you and to zekes memory

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Being a passionate animal lover from day one, I can totally relate to the loss of Zeke. I have lost several pets through the years and each loss is significant in it's own way. I think my most vivid and traumatizing "loss" was an event that I came upon on a highway on my way to work one day. The dog in the event was not even my pet but tore at my heartstrings as if it was. He had been either hit or fell out of the back of his owners pickup truck and had broken his back. He was pulling himself down the highway with his front legs and dragging his rear legs and body behind him, as they were paralyzed? He landed by the side of the highway next to the railroad tracks when I got out of my car to attempt to help him. Another car stopped too. The dog would not let us touch him as he seemed in severe pain and in shock. We put a blanket on him to try and keep him warm and called for the emergency vet on-call in our area as it was a Sunday. The vet called us back and said he would only come out if someone was willing to pay for his services. Meanwhile, a train roared by, only 10 feet from us and the injured pup reared his head and attempted to get up to run but couldn't. The fear and pain in his eyes was horrific! Then a state trooper car stopped and the trooper said he couldn't even put the poor animal out of his misery because if the owner of the dog found out, he could sue him. My heart was totally broken by now as was the heart of the other driver that had stopped to help. I have never prayed so hard in all my life, and I literally shouted out loud at God to please help this poor animal! Then another train came by and the dog reared his head again, terrified. Two more trains came by before the vet showed up.....I had given him my debit card number with not much in the bank but OH, WELL.....he took over an hour to get to us and his office was only up the hill.....he pulled his pick-up truck over on the side of the highway and got out with his bag and stopped to shake hands with the State Trooper who had stayed with us. I couldn't handle his lack of compassion and empathy for the suffering animal by taking his own sweet time and yelled at him to please come over to the dog and either put him out of his misery or help him in some way! He came over and saw that the dog would not let him near so he fumbled around in his bag and got out some pain killer stuff and managed to give the poor animal a shot. We agonizingly waited for the pain medicine to take hold but it wasn't enough....the dog tried to bite the vet when he went to lift him in a blanket.....he gave him another shot and another and finally was able to put a muzzle over his mouth which had blood coming out of it and his nose, and lift the dog into his truck.....he said he couldn't put the dog out of his misery for the same reason the State Trooper gave but said he would take the animal back to his office and see what he could do. I asked him to please call me as to his condition and that I would be more than willing to adopt him if he could be saved and the owner not found. The dog died the next day. I was on my way to work when I had come upon the dog in the highway and had called my employer to explain the situation. My employer told me the situation I was in with "some lame animal that wasn't even my pet!" was "ridiculous" and if I didn't come to work immediately, I would be fired. Needless to say, I didn't like that job anyway!!

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

so sorry to hear of your loss Fred - with all the wonderful and hard work you do for other animals all over the world - it seems even more sad. However, once all the initial grief is past, I am sure you and your family will be able to remember him with joy and less pain. I have had 2 dogs - a black labrador Kizzy - who died peacefully at age of 15 in 1995 and a border collie - Gabby - who had to be put to sleep at age of 14 in 2005 with an aggressive tumour. I was with her to the very end - difficult - but something I felt I at least owed her. She is now in my friend's garden along with her poodle Tilly who was 15. Kizzy is in our old garden before we moved. I loved both dogs for their very individual ways and was determined that they should be left in our garden or that of friends rather than anywhere else! This way I felt they were at least still a part of the family. I said 'never again' its too emotional when they go but here I am with another black labrador called Spud who required required a good home - and loving every minute of it. Good Luck with all your work.

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

My dog told me that death is a natural stage in a life cycle. That reassured me. It's sad when owners die first. Maybe dogs which have love and wonderful owners are the lucky ones; the dogs who are looked after well, etc. Hopefully many dogs live fulfilled lives and have loving owners; what more could they ask for (happy, excercised, fed & loved etc)?

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Going threw it right now had to but my great cat Chubbs under yesterday 11/22/2011. He had been fighting a bad liver and kidney for some time. He was my best friend also and I feel like a baby right now with tears going down my face. Anyway it went as good as it could he is now in my backyard sealed in a container and has a concrete tomb. It hurts but the doing this part helped some for I was able to be with him from birth to the end. Knowing he is in that way around makes it a little better for me anyway. To the memory of pets everywhere when they leave remember all the great times you had with your furry friends. My best friend gve me over 14 years and I am greatful to him forever. Thanks Chubbs

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

You never truly get over the loss of a best friend. My cocker spaniel, Smudge, was there for me for 14 years. He and I survived his human brother and sister going off to college and moving out. We went through my divorce together, he was certainly my best friend and confident. Not a day goes by that I don't think of him and get teary eyed when I talk about him. He died in my arms 5 days after my birthday. I have two more rescue cockers and a cat (not sure who rescued who) and they are now my best buds, but they will never take the place of my precious Smudge! I think of this quote: "Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints (or pawprints) on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same." Thank you Boots, Happiness, McKiever, Lucky, Ginger, Oreo, Muffin, Inky and Smudge" Because of you I will never be the same, I am a better person having had these wonderful cats and dogs in my life. I will always have a rescue beside me. Pass on the love of your friend who died and give a second chance to a homeless dog or cat, you will be repaid many times over! Another baby needs you now.

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

I lost my beautiful,regal German Shepherd,big Bodie, its five years past and I still shed many a tear when I think about his love and loyalty to me and my family,We went everywhere together,he sulked if I went on holiday ,but after a few minutes ,he would forgive me with a huge kiss .I will never forget him and all he gave.
Our animals have more humanity than humans ,they give their all ,without conditions and how any person can mistreat them is something I will never understand....So sorry to read about Zeke and the hole he has left,I understand

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

To me there's no way you can get over the feeling of losing your beloved pets.Love and memories are just so intense that they're carved into your heart.And the ones you dearly love never leave you.They are forever here in your heart.

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

I have loved and lived with animals my whole life. Any time one had to leave, a part of me left as well. Though everyone says "they'er only animals", many people don't realize the bond that grows within. We all need our own time to morn(some more than others), but as long as these animals are remembered, we will never lose them. If anything,there is something, that in time, will be learned. And as long as people do remember,that person(s) can move on. Just make sure your love/happiness for one animal will be given to another.

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

My heartfelt sympathies for your loss.

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