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Zoe Ingles, Feb. 10, 1991 - Sept. 29, 2004

My best friend died today. Her name was Zoe and she was a 13 year old black lab-German shepherd mix. She came into our lives just before her first birthday back in 1992. She had lived with another family for the first few months of her life, but was sent away after eating a birthday cake. She moved on to another household which she did not like and left after a brief time to live on her own for a while. An acquaintance of my mother picked her up as a stray and sent her on to live with us. She was a dedicated huntress of squirrels and rabbits and beloved by all who met her. She tended to be more of a laid back dog, often preferring to lounge in the grass in the backyard for hours at a time. She meant quite a bit to me. We got her when I was in middle school, a time in life no sane person enjoys. I hated every day I had to go, but each day when I got home I had an ally with black fur and kind eyes. When I was in college I rarely got to see her, except at the occasional holiday family gathering, when she would seek me out as soon as she got out of the car. When I was an unemployed college graduate I would sit outside with her for hours, me relaxing in a lawn chair, Zoe lying in the grass keeping watch for animals that might be intruding on her territory.

She developed arthritis late in life and for the past two years or so had trouble at times getting up and down stairs and lying down. In the past couple weeks she deteriorated quickly, struggling to walk a few feet at a time and eventually she stopped eating and drinking entirely. Her hips and hind legs failed her entirely and last night she could not stand up at all.

I knew well the look of fear in her eyes, having seen it every Fourth of July and every thunderstorm. Towards the end, the look of fear hung in her eyes constantly, as she struggled and ultimately failed to do things she did with ease when she was young, not knowing why her own body was failing her.

It hurt to have to finally end her life, but it would have hurt even more to watch her go on living in pain, unable to walk, unwilling to eat. And so this morning I sat with her in the yard one last time, scratching her behind the ear, telling her she was a good girl, and saying goodbye.

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