Zippy’s Tale

Once left for dead, poodle brings joy to family that rescued him

By Donna Cordello

Donna Cordello
Donna Cordello

It was several years ago when my son Daniel and nephew Joey arrived at the job site with paint buckets and ladders in tow.

It was a large multi-family house and when they walked the perimeter, they realized they were missing much needed supplies.

There was a dirty, matted puppy on a very short chain without any food or water. In the several weeks they were there, he was left outside in the pouring rain and sweltering heat.

I imagine it would have been the same if the weather were freezing cold. So, from the day they started that job, they fed him and gave him all the attention he was lacking.

When the job was finished, they packed up all their supplies. After three weeks without any owner in sight, they pondered about what to do with their new friend. They couldn’t just leave him to be neglected and starved. It was as if whoever chained him to that garage just forgot about him.

So they rescued him. Because he was so grateful and eager to jump into Joey’s car, he named him Zippy.

He was in such bad shape; it was impossible to tell what breed he was. After Joey took Zippy to the vet for his medical needs and grooming, he called me up and said, “Aunt Donna, guess what? I’m the proud owner of a toy poodle!’”

Then, Joey got a job out of town and asked my parents if they wouldn’t mind watching him for a couple of weeks. Of course, they were happy to oblige. When Joey returned, he couldn’t believe the change in my parents.

My dad, who was normally glued to the television, was up and walking several times a day with his new buddy. Not only did he get much needed exercise, he also socialized with all the neighbors while on his walks. When my father was in his easy chair, Zippy was nestled in between his calves or on his lap.

My mother, who loves to cook for others, was in her glory. Zippy immediately took on our heritage and loved my mom’s spaghetti and meatballs. In fact, I think in all the time he lived there, he never ate dog food.

Returns the favor

Joey saved Zippy from a miserable life. But Zippy gave back to all of us and we welcomed him into the family like a newborn baby. He breathed new life into my parent’s quiet home and mundane routines. He gave both of them a much needed purpose. And he loved everybody as much as we all loved him.

Joey decided he didn’t need to bring Zippy back home because he was already home, and my parents were thrilled for the adoption. I’m the oldest of four children and the only daughter and as close as we all are, I’m quite sure Zippy was my mother’s favorite child. In fact, now that I think of it, there were times he was my favorite little brother.

Mom will tell you that Zippy kept my dad alive much longer than any of us expected. And when dad passed away, Zippy never left my mother’s side, shadowing her from one room to the other or always on her lap. And of course, we were relieved that after over 55 years of marriage, she wasn’t alone.

A few months ago, Zippy was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer and my mom took care of him and nurtured him like a hospice nurse. A few weeks ago, the day came when we had to put him down, although I prefer to call it raising him up.

We didn’t lose a pet. We lost a family member. And I think of it as the day my little fur baby brother jumped from my mother’s lap back into my father’s lap.

How is it that sometimes, we can’t get along with other humans, but could love another entirely different species so dearly? And it’s not just dogs. My daughter loves her cats. She calls them her babies. So I guess that would make them my “purr-fect” grandbabies.

I have a friend who loves her snake and another who adores her tarantula, although personally, I can’t relate to either. I have other friends who dote on their birds and tropical fish.

Whether they bark, purr, fly, slither, crawl or swim, our pets help make houses our homes. But, they aren’t just our pets. They are part of our family.

Just like other family members, they give us so much joy when they enter our lives.

And so much sorrow when they leave.

Donna Cordello, 60, is a freelance writer with local, national and international publications. She lives in Penfield and can be reached at donnacordello@aol.com.