Zoe Cook, a springer-Labrador cross whose owners were Sally and Peter Cook of Chilmark and Cambridge, died on Oct. 18 at the age of 15.
Her owner submitted the following to the Gazette this week, as told by Zoe:
If I were still in my earthly life and had words to speak to my human friends, I would thank Michelle Jasny and her saintly staff, Elise and Susan, for gently aiding my escape into immortality.
After 15 years and eight months with my family, I could no longer leap, run, romp or even walk. Food was of no interest to me — it was too much work to chew. My last meal was a scrambled egg, ironically one collected from my sister’s hens, those birds I would have happily chased down in my youth. Enjoying a drink of cool Chilmark water became an effort. I could not hold my head up — such an embarrassment. Finally I had to give up. What is a dog’s life worth when sleeping is the only option? Sure, the occasional caress and soft words were comforting but not enough to sustain me. For dog’s sake, I didn’t even have good dreams of chasing rabbits — not a twitch of a paw.
So don’t feel badly — though you might miss me, I don’t miss you because I am interred and now rest in eternal peace at the far end of our Chilmark meadow on the Island where I was born.
I had a good and long life, full of kind people, friendly dogs, even a couple of cats were my friends. No regrets, really, except the flocks of sanderlings that tantalized me just out of reach on our long stretch of Vineyard beach and the bunnies that hopped out of sight and scent into an underbrush of brambles so thick they could joke an unsuspecting hound to death.
Speaking of which, my grave is located near a stone wall, the kind you may stumble across while running a chase through the woods which I did often as a youngster. It’s the crossing that’s treacherous; one leap from such a wall in the woods sent me into a noose of vines, hooked my collar onto the broken branch of a tree, where I was caught with four paws flailing, gasping for air, unable to signal distress. This was a grave matter in more ways than one — I was about to die and I had run off on my Pa who was the only one who knew where we’d been walking. It was a while before he found me because he thought I’d come back home on my own. My Ma didn’t think so and sent Pa back into the woods to search, call and search and hunt — Ma was calling for me too. Maybe all that caring calling kept me laboring to breathe, so I made a loud rasping sound, like someone sawing on a piece of wood. That’s the sound that attracted Pa who made his way through the brush thinking he’d find a woodsman — instead there was his dog hanging from a tree limb. The search was a rescue, and Pa and Ma always removed my collar after that when we walked in the woods.
They buried me last Thursday at high noon, near the stone wall, under the branches of an old wild cherry tree and without my collar. The grave was dug with love and courage and strength by my Pa. My Ma brushed my long black fur and wrapped an aquamarine bandana loosely around my neck so I looked good to go. My sister came around in time to help lower me in to the cool earth. My aunt had placed some scallop shells in my grave, then I went in, and on top of me came the flowers, hand-picked from gardens of family and friends — black-eyed Susans, red roses, daisies, pink and white dahlias, orange marigolds, candy-striped blooms. It was a lovely, clear, warm mid-October day with a sky as blue as infinity, and I was ready to go, finally.