Have you ever felt that your pet was your soulmate? Well, this is exactly how CJ Scarlet felt from the moment she met her dog to the very end and Zack, the cocker helped her through many traumatic life events. This is their story…

‘When my husband and I bought Zack, a cocker spaniel pup, for our daughter in 1999, I knew by the time we got him home that he was my “soul puppy.” ‘

I tucked the trembling ball of fur inside my flannel shirt and held him close to my heartbeat to calm him down. My husband Wes and I had just purchased Zack, an 8-week-old cocker spaniel pup, as a Christmas gift for our daughter in 1999. As I stared into the puppy’s ancient liquid brown eyes, I was surprised by how steadily he met my gaze, even as his body shivered with fear. Like me, he was a curious creature and I felt my heart melt as our bond developed. I had always been a cat person, but I felt a warmth and connection to this precious puppy that I’d never known before with a “pet.” I knew by the time we got him home that Zack was my “soul puppy.”

And the feeling was mutual, so much so that our daughter conceded that Zack was really meant to be mine. For the first eight years after Zack joined our home, I was debilitated by an autoimmune condition that that sometimes left me unable to get out of bed or navigate the stairs. Zack was always at my side, but on the days when I felt the worst, he curled up near my neck and watched over me. When I cried out in pain, he would gently lick my face to comfort me. I cannot overstate the importance of his loving attention on my eventual recovery.

In 2013, with my condition in remission, I left home to attend a summer graduate program in California. Two days after I left, I couldn’t reach Wes and he didn’t return my calls. I had a bad feeling that only grew stronger as the hours passed. Tragically, my intuition was validated when they found that my husband had died in our home of a massive heart attack at the age of 51. I immediately flew home and was greeted by a traumatized Zack, who had been alone with Wes for the two days before his body was found.

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My grief was compounded when, a week after my husband passed, Zack was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma, a terminal type of cancer that offered him only a few months to live. Although surgery would give him only 8 to 10 more months of life, I opted to spend the $5000 because I couldn’t bear to lose both of my best friends at the same time. My family and friends thought I was crazy to spend that much money on a dog, but it was worth every penny to me.

Eight months later, tears ran down my cheeks as I held Zack in my arms while the veterinarian gave him the shot that would end his pain. “I love you, my precious friend,” I whispered in his ear as his eyes slowly closed. “I promise we’ll find each other again.” And then he was gone.

Although my heart ached terribly after I lost Zack, I couldn’t complain, for I had been blessed with 14 years of companionship and love from him that many others long to experience. A year later I decided it was time for another puppy. Although I searched for another dog who could meet my gaze with ancient, curious eyes, I finally had to accept that no one would ever capture my heart the way Zack had. I eventually found a yorkiepoo who is very dear to me, but I still miss Zack. I still miss my soul puppy.

CJ Scarle
Clayton, NC

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