Bonz has pep in step after meeting awesome Zep

PHOTO BY JOSHUA KODIS

Zeppelin Aguirre is a good lookin’ poocheroo, long-leggedy, rangy, with this thick black, cream-’n-gold coat anna big fluffy tail. I’d never of guessed what all he’d been through till I noticed the stem-to-stern harness/brace he was wearin,’ an heard his story.

We met at shady Riverview Park, up in Suh-BASS-chun, a totally favrite spot for leash walks.
“Hey there, Bonzo, thanks for comin’ up. I thought this’d be a nice spot, by the river an all. You can call me Zep. Before you ask, I came with the name.”

“Great to meet you, Zep,” I said. “That’s some pawsome coat! Unusual. Mind if I ask your breed?”

“Matter of fact, my Mom – this is her, by the way, Gerry-Anna – she an my Dad, Emanuel, got my DNA tested cuz they were wonderin’ too. Turns out I’m Husky, Great Pyrenees, German Shepherd, Beagle and Malamute.”

“Well, you sure are the best parts of all of ’em, Zep. Super Cool Kibbles.”

“Thanks, Bonz!” He grinned. “Mom says if there was a Firefighter’s Dog Calendar, I’d be Mr. December. Kinda embarrassin’.’”

“I can totally see you in that,” I said.

“Naw. Anyway, you’ve come to hear my tail, so I’ll get started. I was about 2 when I met Mom ’n Dad in 2014. I ’magine you noticed, I’m not gettin’ around real well these days. No complaints, tho.

“Mom is a pruh-FESH-uh-null pooch trainer an also works at the Humane Society, which is where she was when I arrived there. I was what’s called an Owner Surrender. I don’t know zackly what happened, I had a kind owner, but maybe he got sick or hadda move to a no-dogs place. Anyway, there I was, inna cage, confused, scared. I was skinny, too, with, like, zillions of fleas. Just sittin’ in a heap. Mom says I was the saddest dog she ever saw. In The Biz it’s called ‘Shut Down’, she says. I was that. It took her a nano second to decide to ’dopt me.

“For a while, all I did was lie in a corner, an sometime howl. But pretty soon, I ree-lized I ackshully hadda Furever Mom an Dad an a Furever Home that wsn’t gonna jus poof! Vanish!

“I’m still kinda reserved an independent, till you get to know me. Basically, I’m just a fellow-creature-lovin’ kinda dude. I also had a pooch Big Brother, Bandit, an Australian Shepherd, very no nonsense. I mean, if some other pooches were roughhousing he’d step in an write the tickets. But, guess what, I finally, ackshully got him to play with me, which made all of us realize I had this Super Power. See, I have a gift for helping other pooches be relaxed an at ease, which helps with some of Mom’s trainees who are nervous or ANK-shus.

“Me an Mom have worked together for 8 years now. I’ve assisted her many times, when she’s training fellow poocheroos, an I’ve socialized foster kittens, if you can buh-leeve it. I ’spechully love liddle puppers, so much that my nickname’s The Puppy Uncle. We’ve done lotsa fosterin,’ too.

“I’ve also competed in Nosework and earned my Canine Good Citizen award, I’m proud to say.”

“I’m not what you’d call frivolous but, on occasion, I do wrestle my blanket.”

“Say what?” I said, startled.

“I lay sort on it, it’s nice an fluffy, an I grab a corner, than I just shake my head like crazy, an grrr an grrr an grrr, an roll around. It really releases the Tension. An,” he added, “I usually win.

Mom says there should be an Olympic Blanket Wrestling category.”

“Zep, you’d paws-down get the gold! You’ve come a looong way.”

“You bet your biscuits,” he said. “We’re a totally blended famly: my sis, Kaya, a Husky; a special needs cat sister Maadi; an my sassy African gray Parrot brother Coy.

“PLUS, my pooch pal besties: Pi, Tess, Ruby, Sally, Duke and Rio. Additionally (he said with a liddle laugh) I have a, well, a frenemy.”

“No Woof!”

“It’s – The Possum Under the Deck.”

“That Sounds Like a mystery novel.”

“It’s true. He lives under the deck an mostly comes out at night. I lay in wait. I love layin’ in wait. I caught him a couple times. Didn’t hurt him. Didn’t know what to do with a mouthful of possom. He played dead. I dropped him. I barked. He got up. We had a nose-to-nose conversation at the front door. He went back under the deck. I went inside. Happened a coupla times.”

Zep shifted position, his voice more serious. “After all those years working with Mom, we’ve found out I have this duh-ZEES called degenerative myelopathy.”

“Oh, Woof! It sounds scary.”

“It sorta is, but I’m cool with it. That’s why I can’t walk like I usta, an I need this brace an harness. Sooner or later I’ll hafta use a wheelchair. Right now I’m doing fizz-ickle therapy an learning how to use the wheelchair so I’ll be READY.”

“What’s that like?” I managed.

“I get ack-you-punk-chur (liddle needles you totally don’t feel); high-dro-ther-uppy (which I don’t love cuz I don’t like swimming but they put me in the tub thingy, THEN they add water); also LAZE-err (which is invisible and you don’t feel it). I’m good at the vet. Mom says I’m STOW-ick.

“You know, Bonz, I think it’d be important if other poocheroos an their humans knew how MUCH can ackshully be done for pooches with ISH-yous like me. There’s all sorts of pruh-SEE-jures an stuff to help us feel better, an even GET better and even LIVE longer sometimes. We don’t necessarily hafta be DOOMED.”

“I totally agree, Zep! PLUS, I can see by what you’re doing that us pooches can learn how to do all sorts of stuff to help ourselves with all those Crispy Biscuits treat-mutts and ther-uppies.”
Headin’ home, I was thinkin’ what a pawsome role model Zep is, with his UpBeat attitude under such challenging circumstances. I promised myself I’d help spread the word. Then I smiled, picturing him wrestlin’ his fluffy blanket.

Till next time,

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