RIP Brave Zorro – the Mexican Chihuahua who literally walked and talked his name, who challenged – and fought – dogs fifteen times his own size with the courage of a black-maned lion. Not always with a favourable outcome, I might add, but always with that particular brand of derring-do that ended with the days of Ned Kelly and his gang.
Other times, he looked so adorable that many a guest confessed she would like nothing more than to pop him into her handbag and love him to bits. What scared him most were thunderstorms. He could hear thunder as far away from Perth as Melbourne and when that big dog in the sky growled, he quaked and shook so there was nothing for it but to take him into our bed for the night. Yes, definitely a manipulator and also a scamp: he never let an opportunity pass to overturn the kitchen bin, steal his brother’s food or walk the dinner table after parties, his white-tipped tail wagging at just the right height to catch alight from the candles.
When he died suddenly last week, a friend emailed ‘I always think of Rudyard Kipling’s poem The Power of a Dog, ‘Why do we give our hearts to a dog to tear?’ And when they die, our hearts certainly do rip apart — helpless as tissue paper, the sound of our very selves imploding. Our sons and daughters, their husbands and wives, sister, cousin, friends, colleagues and meet-in-the-park folks all had their own eulogies for Zorro – ‘a friendly little fellow smart enough to tuck himself away from the kids when they’re around’, ‘He remains a wonderful spirit that we are blessed to have known’. Some have sent beautiful flowers, cards and letters, and others have phoned regularly with wise words. Then there’s little Laney who sent such a clever drawing, seven-year-old Katy who phoned to say ‘I love you’, and a colleague who would send no account for work she did on my behalf, but suggested that we buy a plant in Zorro’s memory instead.
The greatest surprise is that having spent the last eleven years sleeping, walking and eating side by side, his foster brother, the 15-year-old Miguel, shows no concern. No lying by the graveside for Miggie. My sister and I speculate that perhaps it is different for dogs when their own kind pass on? Or perhaps it’s just Miggie who’s singular.
It has been a great privilege to have shared some of this journey with you, Zozzie. In the eleven years you spent down here, you left your paw prints on a host of human hearts and you will remain at the centre of ours.
Always, it is the poets who say it best. With thanks to Kipling for his poem that begins:
There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.