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

5 years ago

My husband had to put one of my dogs to sleep last Wenesday. I am so upset and crying alot. She loved the water. I would always spray her with the water hose to cool her off. She would be jumping up and running around. And she would always give me a kiss on the side of my face are my hand. I have lost many dogs in different ways but never like this. I don't know why I did not go to be with her one more time.

6 years ago

I was move d beyond words to hear of Zeke's passing. It rings a bell with me , as I am sure it does with all animal lovers. I have a story to share as well. My wonderful tabby"Dave' came to me via the Oshawa Humane Society in daughter and I were looking for a kitten that summer. When we arrived at the shelter, very few animals caught our eye. As we strolled down the aisle, a paw through bars caught my attention. When I looked in more closely I could see a beautiful face, and huge green eyes looking right at me. He put his paw through the bars and gestured, as if to say" Pick me, pick me.." and indeed we did. Dave was my perfect boy, for more than 15 years. He was affectionate and comforting through out our many years together..he survived life-threatening surgery to live a long and faithful life with me and his best friend Charlie. He was large and gentle..he slept every night on my pillow, purring constantly to reassure me that all was well. I was so unprepared for his sudden death at 15, but I know he is with me still..his love was unconditional, and his presence unforgettable. He loved me beyond words, and I feel it even now. Even Charlie felt it..he died just 3 weeks after Dave left us..I know he had a broken heart.
Rest in peace, my faithful friends.

I will never forget you.

Rachel Bailie

6 years ago

not a day goes by without me thinking about my tyejoe a 11yr old dobie/rottie cross, the most beautiful dog in the world . he passed 4/18/2008 of bone cancer. he was my soulmate and my best friend and will never be forgotten . i feel very lucky that i got to spend 10 yrs of my life with him .

6 years ago

Dear Fred
I know how you feel and I am sorry about Zeke he must have has an amazing life.
We lost lost our Little girl Molly 2 months ago at the age of 15 we got her as a stray when
we lived in Sydney that little girl gave us some must love over the 10 years that we had her
she was the bravest little dog with all her operations that she had over the years due to the
neglect when she was young we got her when she was 5 at the age of 15 this dear little
girl became a diabect she lasted for 3months on her daily insuln but her little body just shut down. i miss her every day and i think i am a better person for her coming into to my life
Keep up the good work and we all should be CHAMPIONS FOR THE ANIMALS

6 years ago

Yes, Fred, I know how very painful it is to lose an animal friend! I had a very beautiful boxer called Rowan. She really was my best friend. She was almost fourteen when she died. She died in my arms and as she slipped away her head fell on my breast and I felt her soul leave her body. It was unbelievably sad and I still have not recovered. I still miss her so much!! This happened in April 2004 and it feels like yesterday. All my sympathies,
from a friend who understands.
P.S. Wait for me, Rowan, by the Rainbow bridge, and we will play together as we used to do. I can't wait. I miss you and love lots, my wonderful friend.

6 years ago

I found your reflections about life with Zeke both moving and inspirational. At age 50, I will now get moving on an ambition to make animal welfare and support my full-time work. My amateur efforts in that field have been the only work that rings the bell. RIP Zeke and soldier on Fred.

6 years ago

I enjoyed your story about zeke. It made me reflect fondly on my own.... I lost my irish wolfhound/komondore named Roi almost 4 yrs ago and i still have dreams about him to this day. He was not an easy dog by any means - for one thing, he was willfull, independent and anyways its humbling to have a dog thats smarter than you and Roi was that. But he was bonded to me and me to him.
I love you my big hairy funny smart boy Roi. I hope you are chasing rabbits on some pasture or golf course where ever you ended up. Wait up for me my boy! Cant wait to bury my face in your big hairy scruffy neck some day again. Love michelle

6 years ago

This makes me love even more all animals around me...!!!

6 years ago

I am so sorry for your loss. RIP Zeke!

6 years ago

Sorry for your loss. Its never easy.

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