Somewhere in the middle of 2008, I made a friend that would be a constant for me for the next eleven years of my life. She was warm, bouncy, and had an underbite you wouldn’t believe. But she was perfect.

Zola (or as she was registered, “Run Zola Run,” because I am a nerd) was born February 15, 2008, sharing a birthday with my father, and entered my life with as much energy as she could muster. Her brother was much more subdued than she was, and also much pricier because, well, he was a better representation of the breed. Zola, to her credit, had a personality that outshone her brother’s, even if she was already blind in one eye, and the second I met her, I knew I wanted her. She had no clue how to work her own limbs and was even more clueless as to how to bark (she actually scared herself the first time she managed to get excited enough to let her first woof out), and potty-training was … a challenge, we shall say.

To her, everyone was a friend who obviously wanted to pet her, and she would reward that friendship with a slobbery kiss followed by a horrifyingly horrendous fart. She loved French fries and air vents, cuddling on the couch, and, of course, being petted.

Zola is staring intently at me (off screen), trying to psychically convince me to give her a fry.

She was with me throughout my marriage, sitting next to me while I wallowed in depression, never asking for anything except a head scratch every now and then. She raised Bitsy’s kittens alongside her, even allowing the little shits to “nurse” from her when Bitsy would attack them. Zola was my best friend.

Today, at 17:05, she passed out of this world, surrounded by the family that loved her. I know that time will heal the wound on my soul, but right now, I can barely think of walking into my parents’ house without seeing her happy puppy grin and hearing her snores without breaking down into tears. But I can at least rest easy in the fact that she is no longer suffering and that she left the world a better place just by being in it.

I will miss you, my sweet Zola. I love you.

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