In August 2001, my mother had been going pet crazy. In the two years prior, we had adopted two cats, after having zero mammalian pets the first 15 years of my life. So one wonderfully sunny afternoon she piled my brothers and I in the car and drove us to the pound. She had been secretly going and visiting in the weeks leading up to our family visit and had been looking for the right puppy to adopt.
That day, not only did she find the right puppy for our family, but that dog, a shepherd-pit-mix named Princess by the pound, instantly became the love of my life.
My brothers weren't as immediately enamored with Princess. So, to ease their opposition, she allowed them to name her. Another win! They named her Zelda! We are all huge Nintendo fans and The Legend of Zelda series is my absolute favorite, so the name seemed more than fitting for her. Especially since she was already labeled a Princess!
The drive home from the pound, Zelda was curled up in my lap, happy to have been removed from her concrete prison. I don't think I had ever been so happy in my life up to that point. She was my new baby girl and I was going to show her the world!
And that's what I did. For the next 7 years, she was my entire world. We went down to the local river, where she would run and chase along the riverbed. We would go to my high school's football field and she would stay while I walked a hundred yards away and then be back by my side in less than 5 seconds! Man she was fast! Those years with her were some of the greatest I'll ever have.
In August 2008, I made a major change and moved to California to pursue life. I had to leave Zelda with my mother (who relied on her as a constant companion), and it was the hardest thing I've done in my life. A little over a year later, in September 2009, she got very sick, very unexpectedly, very quickly, and passed away in the night before she could be taken to the vet. I've never been so heartbroken and I'm not sure I ever will be again.
I wasn't able to even consider adopting another dog for a long time. Zelda's passing was extremely tough on me and I felt guilty even thinking about giving the love I gave her to just any other dog.
But this story doesn't end on a sad note. It is the Legend of Zelda, after all.
Over 4 years later, in October of 2013, I was finally ready to bring a new dog into my home. I had done some light looking at shelters, and had become employed by Pet Project LA during that time, so there was no lack of adoptable dogs presented to me. But it wasn't until I met Odin that I knew I had found the right dog for me.
I have an uncle back home who, for most of his policing career, was a K9 officer with the best trained dogs I've ever seen. So I've always been partial to shepherds, and Odin was my perfect kind of shepherd mix. He might have some husky, Rotweiller, and maybe doberman. He was saved from being a stud at a puppy mill and is the calmest, sweetest dog. He's incredible.
Then the truly unexpected happened. With no plans to adopt a second dog (I even passed on adopting one of Odin's 8-week old puppies because I didn't think I could handle the financial burden of two dogs.) on January 31 of this year, as I rounded the last corner of Odin and I's walk, I saw a black dog, terrified, scampering around the sidewalk and the parking lot next to my building. Once I got her to approach Odin and I, she flipped from being scared to being the most friendly and energetic dog imaginable. I searched for an owner, checked for a chip, and posted fliers online and around the neighborhood. No response.
So rather than put her in a shelter where her chances of adoption would be slim (a black, high energy, pitbull mix aren't exactly pick #1 for adoptions), I brought her home and made her part of my pack.
A few months later, it dawned on me that Zelda had returned to me. I'm not particularly religious, but spirituality is another thing entirely. I just couldn't dismiss and now fully accept that my Princess Zelda has been split into these two dogs and continues to fill my life with the love she did when she was alive. Odin embodies her shepherd spirit, intelligent, calm loving, protective, always ready to cuddle up with you. While Rose got her adventurous side: ready to jump up and kiss your face at the slightest invitation, fast as all get out and a chase drive that simply doesn't quit.
Zelda was my first dog. Perfect in every regard. A true legend reincarnated in the souls of the two dogs able to dig their way into my heart. It's obvious now why it was so easy for them!
Zelda will always be my first dog. I'll never forget her, and I can never replace her. But being able to continue to love my dogs and the people in my life with the intensity I loved her will forever be the greatest gift she gave to me. That's why she's truly The Legend of Zelda.