In Memory of Tobey Zarek

In Memory of Tobey Zarek

Tobey Zarek 9/13/2003 – 5/11/2020


People who own animals are crazy. We set ourselves up to get our hearts broken. When you own an animal, you try not to think about the fact that it is highly likely you will outlive him or her. That means you must make the decision when to end their life.


There are those that think, well maybe my pet will die in his sleep. Or maybe you will know when it is time. Total lies. You are lying to yourself, in the hopes that it will be easier. The reality is that you will ultimately have to make the decision to end your pet’s life based on what you think is the right thing to do. And you will continue to second guess yourself, in private of course, for quite some time. You will be rational to your friends and family, say it was time. You could tell, you could see. But secretly you are thinking maybe it was too soon, or maybe you waited too long.


All this guilt and heartache over a pet. Why do we do it? My mind is struggling right now to remember Tobey as he was. Before the Cushing’s Disease, the Alzheimer’s, the heart murmur, the arthritis, the lung issues, dry eye, cataract, and finally the neurological disorder GME. I want to remember a day that did not begin with 3 syringes of meds, and one that ended with 3 more, and the time in between when we added 3 more to the daily routine. Then the eye drops, followed by treats for taking them without biting me. I try to remember the time when I did not have to carry him out the door to pee, and when he did not poop in his sleep. Most of his life was not defined by his illnesses but right now I can think of nothing else. And I am sad because his life was so much more. He was full of love and joy and he spread it around to everyone he met.


So, I type to remember, and hope that you will bear with me as I remember. Tobey was adopted when he was 2. A family surrendered him as they said their young boys were allergic to him.  If not abused, he was certainly neglected. Dan always said he hit power ball when he met me and luckily, I could afford him! He had only one descended testicle, so his neuter was anything but normal. It looked like he had not been groomed in a year, so I had to have the groomers shave him, and he was utterly miserable for weeks. He would not eat at the shelter; one of the counselors told me he even refused hotdogs. He had double ear infections and his paws were infected because he licked them so much from anxiety. He would only venture outdoors with me if he had a stuffed toy in his mouth, a habit that carried with him throughout his life. I was even able to train him to pick up a stuffed animal (his “baby”) when someone came to the door so he would not bark and would appear less menacing to guests! I spent a small fortune buying him squeaky toys, and he would remove the squeaker with surgical precision before destuffing it.


I told myself he would not sleep in the room with me. He would sleep in a crate, in the living room. Period. That lasted 2 sleepless nights. My wise mother told me to just let him sleep in my room, and from then on, he slept on his bed, or a comforter right next to me for most of the next 14 and a half years. 


I also promised myself I would only get a dog if I could afford to send him to daycare every day. My co-workers laughed when I would show them Tobey on video cam at day camp. I was one of the top customers at Best Friends pet resort for the better part of a decade! The manager always said he was their unofficial BF ambassador, always ready to show the new kids around. 


Tobey is my baby, since I do not have children, and I am not ashamed to admit I treated him like my child. He got boiled chicken along with his dog food, orthopedic beds and tons of toys. I even made him costumes for Halloween, which he often refused to wear since he thought it made him look silly.  


Tobey had a prankster side to him. Before we were dating, Dan agreed to watch Tobey while my sister and I visited my brother. I believe in the span of the weekend he pooped and peed several times in Emily’s house, and almost fell out the car window. The best was when Dan stopped to get gas, and Tobey danced on the arm rest when the doors were closed promptly locking himself in the car. The real kick was when Dan got him to do a jig again to unlock it.

He was such a smart dog. He learned how to “find” his stuffed Kong when we hid it on him. He would then prance around us to show how great he was to find it quickly before settling down to eat it. It was tiresome to go get the Kong when it needed to be filled, so Tobey was able to learn how to go get it, using the cue “bring it” or “bring me the Kong”. You could see in his eyes the moment he understood what you wanted him to do, and off he went, and once retrieved he would drop it in front of you to fill it.  Our screened in porch had a door such that Tobey could push it open and let himself out when he wanted to go to the bathroom. The better trick was when he taught himself to open the door outward to get back in! 

He was quite athletic throughout most of his life too. We would walk twice a day almost every day no matter what the weather. He could even outrun some of his doggie friends and he especially loved to run in the snow.


Tobey was such a happy guy. Some people don’t like it when a dog kisses them but not me. I was always like, bring it on Tobes! And when I would go away on a trip I always looked forward to my return when I would crouch down, and Tobey would put a paw on each of my shoulders and lick the crap out of my face.  He loved to do that with others too if they let him – especially my sister Linda.


Tobey tolerated so many foster kittens, and a few dogs in our house. Jetta, Harley, and Coqui even lived with us a while and he took it all in stride.  He loved children and he was a big hit (and very tolerant) when we would go into different schools to read to the kids as part of Read Across America week.


His toe licking fetish is legendary. Anyone that knew Tobey would either give into his insistence or spend a good 10 minutes trying to convince him that he did not want to lick their feet. Tobey had a compulsive need to lick toes and he is so darn cute many had a hard time saying no. He was such a charmer!


Tobey changed me. I think he changed me for the better. I am going to miss him so much! Life will go on without him. It will not feel the same ever again of course, but it will be a good life even without him here with me. I know that. Logically, I know that, and I just need my heart to catch up with my head. 


My sincerest thank you to everyone that helped me along this journey, and for those of you who will deal with me in the coming weeks. Thank you so much for your patience with me. Even though he was “just a dog” I feel so lost right now.


And for those of you that own or have owned a pet in your lifetime, you are amazing! I have worked and volunteered at several shelters and I am astonished at the best and the worst I see of people. Adopting an animal, especially from a shelter, is one of the most generous things you can do for your community, your family and for yourself. There will never be another Tobey and there will likely not be a young dog in my future either, but I am hoping that someday I will give my heart another chance to be broken. 


If you are looking for a way to say goodbye to Tobey, I have opened a fundraising page at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. This is a shelter that is a network partner with Best Friends Animal Society (different than his day camp), this is the largest no-kill shelter in the world I believe. We foster for them now, and we have been pleased with the experience and the work that they do for the community.


It gives me comfort to know that Tobey will have some good dog friends to keep him company especially Jetta, Maggie, Harley, and Otis who he spent time during his younger days. Please have a toast to him tonight and if you are lucky enough to have a pet give them some special treats!!


Honour Roll

$50.00

Wendy DeFillippo
May 26, 2020
Massachusetts, United States

“So thankful I got to spend last summer with you and Tobey. Wishing you the best in such a difficult time.”

$100.00

Bradley Zarek
May 21, 2020
Florida, United States

“What a beautiful tribute to Tobey - he certainly hit the jackpot with you and was so loved by all! I'm sorry for your loss and can only imagine the emptiness. Sending love!”

$50.00

Julie Smith-Galvin
May 14, 2020
Massachusetts, United States

“in Loving Memory of Tobey”

$50.00

Jay Puig
May 14, 2020
Florida, United States

“Thank you for all you do for the animals of Tampa.”

$100.00

Ellyn Zarek
May 13, 2020
Florida, United States

“It's hard to believe Tobey is gone. So sorry for your loss. Rhonda Voss”

$50.00

Rhonda Voss
May 13, 2020
New Hampshire, United States

“Condolences for Toby”

$50.00

Christina Bostic
May 12, 2020
Massachusetts, United States

“Beautifully written. This captured all of the great Tobey memories, as well as your love and dedication to each other 💕”

$50.00

Emily Lizano
May 12, 2020
Massachusetts, United States

“We miss you already! Love, Mom and Dad”

$100.00

Lisa Zarek
May 12, 2020
Florida, United States

RAISED
$600.00
GOAL
$0.00

9 donors
4 days left


Lisa Zarek
Florida, United States

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