After fourteen years with too numerous to count misdiagnoses, this is my daily journey living with an unknown disease that has made me fully physically dependent, living by the help from my family, friends, and beloved service dog. It is how I have chosen to define myself to remain whole in spite of it.

To Zella, A Tribute To The Dearest of Friends

To Zella, A Tribute To The Dearest of Friends

After sharing on Facebook, I realized that I wanted to pay tribute to my first service dog, my beautiful German Shephard, Zella, here on my blog. (I know, I did this backwards; but I am still learning the ways of all the online outlets). Rather than waiting for it be in memorial, I wanted to do this while my Zella-r is still with us on borrowed time.

She was a friend I desperately needed during the blackest of times in my life. When life shared little kindness on me, Zella gave me an abundance, and kept me going until the sun would shine once again. She entered my world towards the end of my third year being sick, and moved on during a brighter time in my sixth year.

Her beginning of life was not a happy one. She endured abuse during her training to become a loyal aide by her foolish owner/handler. We were blessed to have rescued her from that.

Once Zella entered my world, she generously loved and protected me. Who ever again will share precious foot space on the floor of an airplane with me (certainly not Camelot); climb through a car from the trunk to the me in the front seat—over a wheelchair, head rests and luggage because we had been separated for so long; lunge across my hospital bed barking with her hackles up to let a nurse know she may not enter my room with that attitude (it was awesome); check on my mother, while I was the one enduring a bone marrow biopsy; was the best dog—Walmart greeter ever? I have a thousand Zella stories, many that I recall with tenderness, some with chagrin, others with laughter; all of the memories are filled with love.

Zella always understood that I was sick, and took the responsibility of being my guardian seriously, though it was more than her nerves were cut out for. It is truly one of the greatest blessings I have ever received to have Zella blessed with a family who could give her what I could not, love with out the responsibility of my care. The fact that she would experience the remaining half of her life blessed with heaven here on earth makes my heart sing. The fact that this special family has embraced me as well is the cherry on top. Thank you Bob and Jan.

To Zella, wishing you a wonderful day, everyday, with a squirrel or two, a gentle walk and a lovely breeze.

Herbert Marshall

Herbert Marshall

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