A Tribute to a Mutt - LetterPile - Writing and Literature
Updated date:

A Tribute to a Mutt

Author:

JC Scull enjoys writing about animals and the happiness they provide humans.

a-tribute-to-a-mutt

On August 25th, 2005, after forming near the Bahamas, hurricane Katrina struck north of the Broward-Miami-Dade county line at about 7 p.m. It quickly moved across the state, picking up strength in the Gulf of Mexico, eventually striking Louisiana, the Florida Panhandle, Alabama, and Mississippi. It slammed into Louisiana as a Category 5 hurricane, causing wide spread damage and flooding the city of New Orleans under 15 feet of water.

This is when Ziggy’s story begins.

Somewhere around the New Orleans area and as we understand two days prior to the landing of Katrina, Ziggy was born. His mother, the daughter of mutts and the father of equally mixed pedigree, Ziggy represented a long line of a varied multitude of dog types.

Barely four weeks after the hurricane hit Louisiana and eventually dissipating on August 31, we heard of a van with several rescued dogs and puppies making its way to South Florida from the area of devastation. A good Samaritan had put a few adult dogs into his van along with several puppies in cardboard boxes and had begun the trek of some 800 plus miles to the Fort Lauderdale area.

The recipient of this barking, crying and whining cargo was to be a lady who owned a horse farm in the outskirts of Parkland. She had volunteered to temporarily take custody of this bunch of mongrels, until future homes could be found for them.

We had just lost Snowy, our 14 year old Corgi-mix to liver failure, followed shortly after by the passing of Chewy, our 15 year old full blooded Collie. The house felt empty without a wagging tail or two, so after ascertaining the address to the farm, we decided to go take a look.

When we arrived we were led to a small horse barn with large piles of hay dispersed all around. A dozen dogs of all ages, shapes and sizes lounged around. Large metal water bowls were scattered throughout and a large pile of dry dog food sat in the corner of the barn.

As we scanned the area, we could smell the unmistakable combination of horse manure and dog poop. Briefly looking through the barn, our eyes captured a furry orange ball with four tiny legs, a thick muzzle, and semi-floppy ears. This mass of tangled hair was slowly emerging from behind a pile of hay. Not more than three or four weeks old, the little fur ball stumbled from side to side as it made its way to one of the water bowls.

Taking a quick look at the underbelly, I realized it was a male. This was a good thing, since the last three dogs that had allowed us to share their company, were female, and my three daughters wanted to try a male for a change.

As he satiated his thirst, I decided to scoop him up and do a closer inspection. As I held him in one arm and ran my other hand through his body, I noticed something that was quite interesting. Besides his obvious undernourishment, I realized he had a crinkled tail at the tip. A zigged tail!, I thought.

Immediately, I proclaimed out loud: “Hey girls. This guy has a crooked tail! The tip is zigged” My middle daughter, who has been known for funny and jaunty outbursts replied: “Ziggy! That’s Ziggy. We'll call him Ziggy the Zig” Well, needless to say, Ziggy came home with us that afternoon.

a-tribute-to-a-mutt

Ziggy needed a lot of TLC. He had a nasty case of ticks, fleas and parasites. After a couple of trips to the vet to get rid of all these invaders and receiving all the necessary shots, we all began to realize, there was something to this mutt that was different from the other dogs we had owned. He was extremely lovable and had a very magnetic character. Everyone he encountered could not keep their hands off him.

a-tribute-to-a-mutt

As he grew older, he began to slowly take over the supervision of the two female cats with whom he shared the house . He was a great cop, making sure any potential feline squabble was dealt with quickly. He also guarded the back yard for any intruding squirrel.

He even kept an eye on the children while they swam in the pool. Although they were all expert swimmers, if he noticed they ventured to the center of the pool, he would immediately jump in the water, gently grab their arms with his large mouth and guide them to safety.

Years later, after the two female cats with whom he was raised had passed away, he picked up a new roommate. Boomer, a male tuxedo cat that would follow Ziggy no matter where he went. He was also great at keeping him entertained as he got older.

Ziggy and Boomer contemplating life.

Ziggy and Boomer contemplating life.

Ziggy had a certain magnetism for cats. He liked them and they liked him. In fact, we called him the “Pied Piper of cats”, as even the strays in the neighborhood would follow him when we took him for a walk.

Ziggy’s individuality and love for family connections emanated from deep inside him. He felt comfortable and grounded when he was in our midst. We felt the same when we were around him. He was a calming influence and a great companion. He taught us empathy, loyalty, love, compassion and unity.

It might sound strange, but having him around put us closer to animals in general. He endeared himself to us in such a way that our empathy for all living things grew.

a-tribute-to-a-mutt

To be fair, perhaps it is not just Ziggy who has contributed to our personal connection to the world we live in and share with all other living things. It has also been our association with dogs like Snowy, Chewy, Maggie, Raggs, and Dr. Watson. But also cats like Abaya, Periscope (yes — Periscope!), Meeka, and Boomer, that have all contributed to our family and enhanced our lives.

I remember with fondness the many hikes we took through the trails and parks in our town. He never needed to be on a leash when the trails were empty. He always stayed by my side. I never had to ‘walk him’; instead we walked together.

Toward the end, Ziggy could barely get around. His arthritis and hip problems forced him to wear a brace with handles by his shoulder and hips. We used these handles to help him get up from the floor, since his legs were just not what they used to be.

Eventually, he began to lose his appetite and my wife hand-fed him. She also mixed in people-food in order to entice him. I occasionally slept downstairs in the sofa in order to keep him company. As extreme as it seems, we all felt the need to pay him back for the years of pleasure we received from his company. It is the least we could do for that old mutt.

As we all knew it would eventually happen, Ziggy's old body gave way to the laws of nature.

As the first anniversary of his passing is here, we all remember Ziggy. He will always be in our hearts.

Comments

JC Scull (author) from Gainesville, Florida on September 13, 2020:

Thank you Liz.

Liz Westwood from UK on September 13, 2020:

This is a lovely and fitting tribute to Ziggy.

JC Scull (author) from Gainesville, Florida on September 13, 2020:

Thank you Pamela.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 13, 2020:

Ziggy was a very beautiful dog. This is a lovely tribute to him and I know you grieved his loss. I lost a male tuxedo cate last November after 14 years and it is sad. Thanks for this very good article, JC.

JC Scull (author) from Gainesville, Florida on September 13, 2020:

Thank you Lorna. I appreciate uour comment.

Lorna Lamon on September 13, 2020:

This is a wonderful tribute to your beloved pet JC filled with the joy that Ziggy brought into your lives. Our pets enhance our lives in so many ways and even though I have lost a few over the years, they have left their own mark in the memories I have of them. Thank you for sharing this touching article.

JC Scull (author) from Gainesville, Florida on September 12, 2020:

Thank you Peggy.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 12, 2020:

What sweet memories you have shared with us about your beloved dog Ziggy. Our pets add so much joy to our lives. We have lost many, but cherish every memory of them. I hope your memory of Ziggy gives you precious memories long into the future. He sounded like a great dog!

JC Scull (author) from Gainesville, Florida on September 12, 2020:

Thank you John. I appreciate your kind words.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on September 12, 2020:

It is always sad when a beloved pet dies and their lives seem far too brief, but we must treasure the love and fun they provide us as part of the family. I have lost three dogs and one cat in the last two years, but although it never gets any easier I can’t imagine life without a cat or dog in it. Ziggy was a beautiful dog. Thanks for sharing JC.