zelda photoZelda went on another food strike this weekend. In the saga of Z-food over the past three months, there have been no clear winners, except that anything is good for two or three days, some things are good for two or three weeks, and everything, in the end, is not interesting. She’s not apparently sick—not throwing up or having obvious digestive trouble—she’s just not in the mood to eat.

This, of course, makes me crazy.

When my son was picky about food, I let it go entirely. My philosophy was, “Eat what you like, kid, my responsibility is to provide good food, your responsibility is to listen to your body.” Did I have to grit my teeth when he didn’t bother to bring a lunch to school? Yep. But I still didn’t say anything (much!) and I definitely didn’t get into a power struggle about it with him.

With Z, I have lost the power struggle before it’s begun. I will feed her whatever she wants to eat. Except that I keep trying variants of healthy food, of course. The oldest dog in England is a 26-year-old Jack Russell terrier that eats fish fingers and other people food. Apparently when he turned 18, he got picky and his owners decided he was old enough that he could have whatever he wanted. Not on the principle of “make your own healthy choices, dog,” but on the principle of “you’re going to die any time now, let’s make your last days happy.” Eight years ago. I’m not quite ready to do that. Zelda’s only twelve. If she will eat healthy food, she should have plenty of good years left.

In fact, she’s not quite twelve — tomorrow is her birthday! I’d bake her a cake if I thought she’d eat it.

A dozen years ago (tomorrow), I got a phone call saying Woody, Z’s mom, seemed to be going into labor and asking if I could stay with her because her owner had to work. The answer was yes, of course. I pulled R out of school for the day so he could be there with me. That turned out to be unnecessary: Woody didn’t start having her puppies until late afternoon. Z was the last one born, sometime around 6:30 PM.

She was not a lovely puppy. She was mottled pink and black, minimal fur, pink rims around her eyes, a red nose where Woody had been chewing while trying to deliver her. She was the biggest of the puppies and her birth was more of a struggle than the others. I’d post a picture, but I have, in fact, no pictures of newborn Z, because I didn’t think she was the puppy we were (eventually) taking home. I’ve got several pictures of the other girl puppy because we wanted a girl and with one cute girl puppy and one not-cute girl puppy, the choice seemed obvious to me.

It was not so obvious to R. Within the very near future—not that day but fairly soon—he said that we needed to take Z instead. He was worried that no one would ever love her, because she was so very ugly. I was surprised, but the puppy was going to be his dog, so it was his decision, of course.

Ha. She was never his dog. Maybe for the first fifteen minutes after we brought her home for good, but after that, she’s been my dog, heart and soul. And I’ve been her person, the very same way. I’m sad about B, the thought of losing him makes me cry, but when it is Z’s turn, I will be devastated.

And the fact that she’s growing older is always in the back of my mind. She’s losing her hearing pretty obviously and family members have commented on how much she’s slowing down. She was a pretty typical Jack Russell when it came to energy level: visitors didn’t usually see her sleep because she was always ready to play when there were people around and she could spend hours chasing balls and swimming. Not so much anymore. She still likes long walks, but she used to have no upper limit on how far she’d go and now she does.

This weekend someone asked why I was going to Galveston and I admitted a truth that I only realized recently: I’m headed to Galveston because a long way back, before I had Serenity, before I’d even decided to buy Serenity, I read an article about the best dog beaches in the country and Galveston was on the list. When Z was a puppy in Santa Cruz, we spent tons of time on the beach and she loved it. Her happiest day of our trip so far was probably the day we spent on the beach in Gloucester, MA. So yeah, I’m taking my dog to the beach. In Texas. It would have been an excellent birthday present, but I’ll have to deliver it a little bit late.

Happy Birthday, Zelda!