He was a most handsome black man with gentle, green eyes. He was lean and muscular, a testament to an athletic past. He came to our office with wonder and some shyness. He was a bit reserved but there was an undeniable sweetness about him.
He was only 3, but he had outlived his racing days when Donna adopted him. Lucky man. Donna was his rescuer, his special person and his mom. He was her baby, her friend and companion, loyal and absolutely devoted.
He made friends easily though he could be pretty scary to some just because of his size, but I never heard him growl, not once. Not in the 10 years or so he spent with us. Zach came to work every day with Donna. He was part of who our office was and who we wanted to be. If a prospective tenant didn’t want to come into the office because of Zach, then we weren’t the place for them.
When he joined our family, he became part of an already existing pack that included Roxie, a fox terrier mix who was Stephanie’s baby. Zach and Roxie quickly became friends. They were often caught enjoying the sun side by side as their respective mothers worked at their desks. When Stephanie’s life took her to another city, I know Zach missed Roxie, but he easily took over as the pack leader at the office.
Zach was a couch potato and very happy just to be near Donna. He had his own space with a big bed that was very close and he appeared to be content to watch and listen as long as Donna was somewhere nearby.
He was quiet for a long time before he started talking to us. It seemed to be years before he really found his voice. It was a great joy to watch him blossom as he became more comfortable in his new daily routine. He began to express his pleasure at seeing his mother return to the office when she had been called away. He recognized her car. I didn’t even have to look up to know that she was pulling into the parking lot. His bark was his announcement to me and his greeting to her.
Sometimes I was fortunate enough to get one of his hellos when I would see them out walking or when I came into the office. It always made me feel special to be recognized and receive his welcome bark.
As I made my early morning rounds through the properties I would often see Donna and Zach going for their morning walk. They always appeared to be enjoying the outing. Some days the walks were long ones and I would see them far from the apartment. As the years went by the walks became less lengthy but still a part of a pleasant ritual.
Even on the rainy days each was properly dressed for the daily routine; Donna had an umbrella and Zach had on his raincoat. On cold days Zach looked dapper in his tan turtleneck coat he would wear.
There were times when Donna would let him run inside the nearby baseball field. On the weekend occasions that I chanced by when they were there, I never tired watching of him. Greyhounds are such graceful athletes; their speed seems effortless. Zach took obvious pleasure in his freedom to run as he chose.
As his coal black coat began to collect the dust of graying and his steps became a bit more measured, he never lost his desire to be beside Donna. When Donna had business outside the office, we all took turns walking with him or just comforting him when he was having a hard day.
His body gave out long before his spirit. His hips grew unequal to the task of getting up without help and his back feet wouldn’t cooperate when he tried to walk. He never complained; he would just let you know he needed help and we all came running. Until the very end, he still wanted to come to work every day.
Zach was a comforting fixture and our small office is ever so lonesome without him. For some the circumference of their circle of life just isn’t big enough for those left behind.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.