A Tribute To A Special Friend - Zeus
Zeus - A a best friend and member of the Daley family for a short thirteen years and a bit.
Zeus was born December 3, 1995, he was just a fluff ball when we saw him at a breeders ranch in California when he was just 4 weeks old. They were expecting us so when we pulled up to their yard all the pups were out in the yard playing. We got out of the car and immediately walked over to the pups.
They all became interested in us and competed for our attention except one who positioned himself under a parked car. He eminated independence and really didn't seem to care if we were visiting or not. Being the dog lover that I am, I could not resist his cute face and went over to pick him up. He was a chubby little guy and grunted when I picked him up. When I held him close under my chin he lavished kisses all over my chin and did the same to Jane when I passed him on to her. In the next few minutes Zeus made up our minds to the fact that he would be joining our family.
As a puppy Zeus was a little terror and we soon realized that he had strong alpha male tendencies. The family heirarchy as far as he was concerned was that he was the leader. He was always trying to tell us what to do and when to do it. A very bossy little guy.
Jane and I made a trip to Petsmart to pick-up dog food on a Saturday. We didn't know it at the time but Petsmart has adoption services on Saturdays. When we entered the doors there were these cute puppies that looked like they were a German Shepherd mix of somekind. The sign said, "please adopt us today or we will be euthanized on Monday". If that was supposed to tug at your heart, it worked. My bride immediatly went over and scooped up one of the little females who was a cutie and couldn't seem to lavish enough love on us. It was almost as if she knew this was an opportunity to break prison. Jane suggested that it would be a great idea to bring this little girl home so Zeus would have company when we were not home. This was not a new concept for the Daley family because we almost always had two in our household just for that reason. I told Jane I wasn't ready to bring home another dog because I was afraid Zeus would maul anyother dog that came into the house. I finally talked Jane in putting her back in the pen and we commenced to fill our shopping list. While I was looking at training collars for Zeus I turned around and Jane was not to be seen. When I walked back toward the front of the store there she was, holding this little female that we would later name Venus because she loved everyone and had lots of love to go around. Once again, I convinced Jane to place Venus back in the pen and I asked her to stand in the check out line while I ran back and got our 50 lbs. bag of dog food. When I made it back to the check out line there was Jane holding Venus. Venus would not be going back to prison on this day or anytime in the future. Since that day I have went out of my way to avoid Petsmart on Saturday's.
When we got outside I told Jane that we should have Zeus and Venus meet on neutral ground to avoid any territorial conflicts and she agreed. I was concerned that Venus would wind up just being a toy for Zeus. His alpha male tendencies made him a bit of a bully. While Jane waited I went back home and got Zeus. We introduced them on a neutral grassy patch in front of the Petsmart. When I let Zeus off leash he ran toward Venus as I feared would happen with malice of intent. I begin to move forward so I could rescue Venus from the terror Zeus. To everyones surprise and especially to Zeus, Venus flipped Zeus on his back into a submissive pose. At least for now the leadership role was established in favor of the little lady. That would change as Zeus matured but the role reversal seemed ok with Venus as they became the very best of friends.
Zeus took to training and seemed to enjoy learning his roles and responsibilities within the family. He surprised us many times because of his behavior change seemed so natural for him. As he grew from adolescence into an adult he grew into someone special. He looked forward to his training sessions and even though he did not grow up with our adult children he exhibited an unusual affection to all children and especially babies. He was always gentle with the children and if they pulled his tail or grabed a hand full of hair to steady themselves that was fine with Zeus.
When we got to Arizona and moved into the community of Winfield in North Scottsdale I joined the men's hiking club. Every Tuesday a hike is planned for one of the many trails that Arizona has to offer. Zeus and I joined the club and it soon became one of Zeus's favorite activities. Each Tuesday he would greet his old hiking buddies and check out anyone new that might be joining us on that day. Once underway Zeus would take the lead as trail master and watch over the group. If he felt the rear of the group was getting to far back he would run back and encourage the straglers to catch up. When satisfied he would move back to the lead position. Because of this routine he probably traveled five times as far as the rest of us.
Zeus under went snake training, a necessary exercise because of the rattle snakes that inhabit the natual areas of Arizona. There was several times that Zeus blocked our path because using his sense of smell he identified a rattle snake ahead that he was trained to identify as dangerous and it needed to be avoided. A couple of the hikers told me that if for some reason I could not make the hike they would pick up Zeus so he could still go on the men's hiking excursions with the rest of the guys.
One evening I headed down to the mail box and Zeus was as usual close by. It was dark and the driveway was gently illuminated by the landscape lighting so visibility was limited to a few feet on this moonless night. All of a sudden I heard this racket and out from the bushes came a charging Javelina (Arizona's wild pig) who seemed very angry with me. My only defense was the mail in my hands and the tennis shoes on my feet that I was getting ready to use to kick the pig in the little hope of driving it away. When the pig was just six to eight feet away from me Zeus was suddenly between me and the pig. He attack the pig with a viciousness I never knew he possessed. Biting the back of the pigs neck and riding his back the pig forgot about me and ran for the bush with Zeus half on his back. Now I was afraid for Zeus as the Javelina is tough and has been known to kill a dog. As they entered the bush I gave a whistle command for him to return. He disengage immediately and returned to my side. I lost interest in placing the mail in the mailbox and quickly returned to the safety of our house with Zeus close by my side. Without hesitation he placed his own life at risk to assure my safety.
Although Zeus took on the role of protecting the house and let it be known to everyone that came to the door that this was part of his roles and responsibilities, once introduced to the arrival they were welcome and he was ready to be friends. Away from the house on walks through the community he would meet people and other dogs and was cordial and happy to make a new friend or say high to an old friend.
Life was good as we took our trips into the desert to discover new trails and see the vistas that this beautiful country has to offer and those car trips to see our children or visit friends were all special times. We took some of our vacations at dog friendly resorts like the one in San Digo, CA. Zeus loved to watch movies and never missed a chance in talking us into stepping into the theater to watch a movie. There was also particular shows he liked to watch. He liked animal planet but we could never figure out his facination with the Jay Leno show. He would watch that show and then when it was over it simply was time to go to bed and he would move to his own bed in our bedroom. Many of our friends thought Zeus's singing ability was the best. His favorite song was singing in the rain. While I sang lead, Zeus would harmonize in his tenor voice and Venus would sing soprano. Sometimes we could even get Jane to join our little choir. Others just liked Zeus's interation when they visited our home or attended a gathering. He would always make everyone feel important and special. Yes, those were very special times as Zeus was there to make a good day even better.
As Zeus grew older he developed hip trouble and eventully lost the use of his back legs. We got a special harness to help with lifting his hind quarters and he used his powerful chest muscles to walk on his front feet. He still made the trips to visit our children and grand children and couldn't have been happier when we did. It was a lot more work on our part but we didn't mind as he had given us so much.
The condition finally got the best of our brave Zeus who never once complained about his condition as it grew into the final stages. He new his time had come and as I lay on the floor close to him he inched closer, laid his head on my arm and took his final breath.
We can't help but grieve for Zeus, after all he was a family member and a good friend. Zeus will be loved and missed - But never forgotten.
A Video tribute to Zeus. Turn your speakers on and celebrate our special friend.