Zippy, my friend and shadow, will be off on a new adventure soon.

It is hard to believe that it was over 16 years ago that I met you for the first time. I picked you up from the airport and brought you home in a little Sherpa bag. When we got home, I set the bag down and unzipped the front. You stuck your head out, looked around, pulled it back in, then after pondering for a minute, walked out with your head up and your tail up. I said, “You’re Zippy, aren’t you?” You smiled, greeted the other dogs, and thus began our adventures.

Zippy typifies a standard poodle – she has always been willing to try anything, but only if she could do it her way. And yes, there has always been plenty of sunshine awaiting her. One time when we were doing therapy work at a hospital, not only one, but two people started to sing Zip-a-dee doo da to her. Her reaction? “Mom- they are singing my song!”

She was a good obedience dog when she wanted to be – but in Southern California where the trials were outdoors, there were way too many other things much more interesting to pay attention to – like the kids playing nearby. And at one rally trial we were excused after the second exercise. The next day she got an almost perfect score and one of the people working the ring said, “That isn’t the same dog, is it?” Well yes it is, but yesterday there were more interesting things to do than do silly exercises.

And a great therapy dog. She put me to shame the first time we went to a school for severely disabled children. She treated everyone the same, regardless of their issues. Got children to relate to her who were withdrawn into themselves, and others with mobility problems to reach out and touch her.

Tracking? “Yes I know where the track is.” I could set tracks that went down into brush infested ditches and back up, over roads, etc. and she would do it perfectly. But at a trial? “Look – there is a critter over here that is much more interesting!”

She caught a squirrel one time and brought it into the house and sat on the sofa playing with it. Jazzy was wanting to play too, and I asked Jazz why she was bothering Zippy. I called the two to come outside with me, and as Zippy trotted by, my reaction was – “I don’t recognize that toy!” I asked her to bring it to me which she did, and gave it to me. I looked at it and there was no sign of damage (it was still warm) so it appeared she simply broke its neck. She was not particularly pleased with me when I threw the perfectly good squirrel in the trash.

When we moved into our current house 3 years ago, she explored the entire property and first brought back some deer hide. Then I found her chewing on the backbone of probably the same deer. After I took that away from her, I subsequently found her gnawing on a hoof and leg bone.

If someone left a gate open, Zippy would be happy to venture out to explore the neighborhood. Once Mike looked over at Zippy eyeing a gate that had been left open by a construction person, and shouted at her to stay in the yard. He swears that Zippy turned to him and grinned and trotted out.

When I called Zippy a good dog, he said, “Who are you talking about?” He agreed she was a sweet dog, but good? Depends on her mood that day. But always happy, always up for an adventure.

But time has a way of catching up with even the most joyful and happy. And it is getting harder to stand up, to walk without falling, and to find things one wants to eat. So it is time for a new adventure. I am sure you will find lots of interesting things. After all, God cares for the sparrow – he certainly cares for you, so I am putting you back into His hands.

I’m going to miss you, Zippy. I will still look for you when making sure all the dogs are in.

But don’t worry, be happy. And remember it is a wonderful day. And even if there are dark clouds that seem to be closing in, plenty of sunshine is heading your way.