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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007

    Dog mourns loss of best friend

    Very touching story.. I bawled all the way through it...

    Article published Nov 21, 2010
    Boy's best friend ~ Dog mourns loss of owner, 15

    The Reeds say Zelda has regularly run away and headed to the cemetery since owner Josh's death. "She's not stopping," says Marci Reed. "She's not quitting."

    Tribune Photos/MARCUS MARTERBy ALICIA GALLEGOS Tribune Staff Writer

    Since her best friend's death, Zelda has taken to wandering.

    Neighbors spot the one-eyed, rust-colored dog roaming the farm roads near her home, heading in the direction of the cemetery.

    That's where the dog was found recently, say animal officers, roving the grounds of a small brick church on Bremen Highway, yards from her owner's tombstone.

    "She's without her boy," said mom Marci Reed. "She just sniffs all over looking for her boy."

    Zelda and her owner, Joshua Reed, 15, were inseparable ever since Josh rescued the dog three years before, when she was hit by a car.

    It had been nightfall when the family drove past the dog lying in the road and Josh had pointed frantically at the crumpled figure.

    "He jumped out of the moving van," Marci Reed remembers during a recent visit to her home.

    "He yelled, 'Stop! We have to get the dog!' " The teen brought the bleeding animal in the van, wrapping the dog in his jacket.

    The child stayed up all night talking to the dog, his mom remembered with tears in her eyes. "He kept saying, 'I love you. I love you. You'll be all right, I'll take care of you.'"

    Zelda lost an eye in the accident, and her tail was broken in several places, but the dog flourished at the Reed home.

    Zelda seemed to know that Josh had saved her life, said family members. The dog bonded instantly with the boy, if not so much with the rest of the family.
    Marci and David Reed speak about the loss of son Josh and his relationship with dog Zelda. "It just wandered around the farm looking for Josh," David says of Zelda. "She couldn't find him."
    "When we first got the dog, she wouldn't even take a hotdog from me," Marci Reed remembered, but she followed Josh everywhere, waiting for him every day when he got off the school bus.

    The teen even had a special call for the dog, a kind of "whoop whoop" sound that would bring the dog running.

    Zelda and Josh would roll around in the gr$#@! outside the family's Mishawaka farm. They would race down the gravel drive with Josh on his bike and Zelda sprinting beside him.

    "He used to say she was faster than a Jaguar," Marci Reed said.

    So Zelda, along with the rest of the Reed family, entered a world of emptiness last year when one day, Josh didn't come home.

    Gone too soon

    Since he first learned to walk when he was 8 months old, Joshua Reed never slowed down.

    "From then on it was constant movement," remembered his mom.

    "He liked anything fast." Snowboarding, skateboarding, roller-skating, Josh was happiest on wheels.

    When he asked his parents for the four-wheeler they first said "no." But Josh promised to earn half the money for the vehicle himself, said his dad, and worked extra $#@! the farm to make the wish a reality.

    The Penn High School freshman loved his new ATV, riding it along with a group of fellow four-wheeling friends in the summer of 2009.
    Josh Reed, 15, of Mishawaka, loved all animals, says his family, especially ones who needed extra care. Photo provided
    Before he headed out the evening of Sept. 3, his mom spoke to him briefly on the phone, asking him whether he wanted pizza later.

    "He said, 'buy two pizzas,'" Marci Reed remembered, her voice breaking with emotion. "I said, 'be careful. I mean it.'"

    The Reeds will never know why Josh didn't stop and look when he approached the intersection of Pierce Road and Indiana 331. It might have been because the road had previously been closed and only recently opened for traffic.

    State police said the pickup truck driver reported he didn't see the boy on the ATV until it was too late.

    Josh was thrown 120 feet, his dad said. He died instantly.

    Marci Reed was at her younger sons' football practice when a friend of Josh's called to say there had been an accident and she needed to go to the hospital.

    "I said, 'tell me what happened?'" Marci Reed remembered, her voice breaking into a sob. "'You can't do that, you have to tell me what happened!'"

    A police officer came on the line then, and instructed her to go to the hospital. The mother knew it was really bad, she said, when she arrived there before the ambulance.

    Doctors said there was nothing they could do. Josh was gone.

    Marci and her husband went into the hospital room where their son lay, to say goodbye.

    "He looked so pretty, he didn't even look like he was hurt," the mom remembered. "His eyes were so blue."
    Josh Reed
    Zelda's search

    Josh is remembered most by friends and family as a great friend and lover of all animals, especially ones like Zelda who needed extra care.

    "Anything broken, he wanted to fix," said his mom.

    Every year, Josh showed cattle and pigs at the 4-H County Fair and was his dad's "right-hand man" on their New Road dairy farm.

    The middle of five brothers ranging in age from 11 to 31, Josh always had a strong sense of individuality, said his parents, be it wearing a silly hat or starting a new trend.

    "He rocked the bandanna," Marci Reed remembered with a smile.

    Unlike some children, Josh was also unwavering in what he wanted to be when he grew up. He had decided to become a plastic surgeon years before, said his mom, after watching a documentary on children with cleft palates.

    Hundreds of friends came to Josh's funeral, according to his parents, many of whom called the teenager his or her "best friend."

    But there was one more loyal fan of Josh's who couldn't speak her grief or ask questions about where her friend had gone.

    "It was funny when I got home (from the hospital) the dog came and put her head on my lap," said David Reed. "Like she knew."

    For days afterward, Zelda wandered up and down the family farm, searching high and low for her boy.She slept in Josh's room every night, until the day Marci found the dog had eaten one of Josh's shoes, something the dog had never done before. Marci wonders if maybe Zelda was angry.

    "She's not the same dog," said Marci, stroking Zelda's coat comfortingly. "She was like him. She was way hyper, she used to chase cats..."

    "She's just not the same."

    'Sixth sense'

    Zelda had never run away before the accident, but now, the Reeds say, the dog takes to the road any chance she gets.

    She was taken to the cemetery only once by the family. Marci Reed brought Zelda to St. John's Cemetery on Bremen Highway after the first time she ran away.

    That time the dog was found near Riley High School in South Bend where animal officials said the dog was lucky, since small dogs like Zelda are often stolen and used as "bait dogs."

    Marci believes the dog had a special angel watching out for her that day.

    Since visiting the graveyard that first time, the dog has been caught twice more near the cemetery route.

    "They always say that animals have that extra sense," said Jordan McGuire, with the Humane Society of St. Joseph County. "It's obvious (the dog) is grieving."

    The animal officer has brought Zelda home several times and said after hearing the heart-wrenching story, the Humane Society decided not to charge the family for Zelda's pickup."This is one of those situations where a little compassion is necessary," McGuire said. "I think this shows animals have feelings just like humans. They just can't talk."

    On a recent November evening, Marci and David Reed leash Zelda and head to St. John's Cemetery, more than a mile from their house.

    As soon as Zelda is out of the car, the dog pulls at her tether, leading Marci through the church parking lot and down the graveyard path toward a granite stone.

    The dog sniffs frantically around the mementos placed around Josh's grave. She sits in front of the tombstone, as the Reeds point out cards and notes left by friends and family.

    Above, the sun is sinking beneath the muted gray sky and an icy wind blows.

    Zelda shivers.

    Marci is suddenly struck with the memory of how much both Josh and Zelda hated the rain. The two would huddle together in the basement whenever there was thunder.

    "We're going to get a fence," Marci says after awhile, holding Zelda's shaking body close. "I can't let something happen to her."

    The family knows Zelda won't stop running, desperately wandering the dangerous roads in her never-ending search to find the friend she loved the most.

    Staff writer Alicia Gallegos:

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Southern California
    What a sad but sweet story.

  3. #3
    I admit it. I'm bawling like I haven't done in a long time. It's so sweet. And a perfect example of how our furry loved-ones are.

  4. #4
    How sad...I couldn't even finish the story.

  5. #5
    What an amazing story.. sad.. but amazing. Sad for the Reed family who lost their wonderful and caring son. Also very sad for Zelda who lost her best-friend. =(

  6. It so true. My aunt passed away in France and her dog went to her grave for days. The graveyard was 3 kilometers away. They grieve just like us. Never underestimate love.

  7. Jasper still looks for his brother Onyx. They were the last two of the litter. We lost Onyx on Halloween night. Our furry family members never stop looking for their loved ones.

  8. #8
    My childhood dog never left the yard in the 11 years we had her. During the day she would sit with my handicapped mother, in the afternoon we did our normal things together and at night she would sleep with me. When I moved out, Princess stayed behind because even though she was technically mine I couldn't take away my moms daytime companion. 4 years after I moved out, my mother passed away unexpectedly. For the first few days, princess would inspect every car that came to the house and when she didn't find my mom she would go to the corner of the dining room and be sad. A few days after the funeral, Princess left the yard for the first time and was hit by a car and killed in the driveway of the hospital where my mother died. My theory has always been that she was searching for my mom and maybe followed the scent to the hospital.

  9. #9
    Ugh, I knew I shouldn't have read that. I'm bawling and suppose to leave for work! Customer Service doesn't go well with big red puffy eyes!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Fort Bragg, NC
    it's very touching..So sad. Poor Zelda and Poor Family!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2009
    An igloo in BC
    That is sad. :(

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