If Zach Skow knew anything, he knew he was going to die. After years of drugs and alcohol abuse, Zach had terminal Cirrhosis of the Liver. When he looked at himself in the mirror, he could see death lurking all over him.
Staring in the mirror, Zach saw something else: his beloved dogs, Tug, Marley and Buddy who he had rescued from shelters. The dogs were full of energy. Zach hauled himself up to take them for a walk. He had always loved dogs, especially the ones who were ‘discarded’ by uncaring people. What a strange picture they made: life vs death.
From running a club at 23, Skow soon found himself running other things too: girls, drugs, crack cocaine, alcohol, drugs, alcoholdrugsalcohol……….. Finally at 28, he learned he was dying – from hepatitis and kidney failure. To be eligible for a kidney transplant, he had to be sober for 6 months – unlikely he reckoned. He went home to die.
Every time he looked in the mirror, he saw the dogs too, not caring that he was half dead. He could not avoid them: all his early years of volunteering at dog shelters came back to him. He remembered how much he had enjoyed that kinship he had shared with the animals. He realized that the more he wanted to die, the more the dogs needed him to live.
Walks became hikes. And he met wonderful Wendell, who became Wen. It was Wen’s first walk outside since his wife had died. Now, Skow had someone else to worry about besides himself. Wen taught him to look beyond himself, a lesson Skow had never learned. His life became about his dogs and Wen.
And miraculously when Skow went for his next medical check-up, the doctor looked at him in astonishment!
He has been clean and sober for 7 years now. He founded Marley’s Mutts, a dog shelter for lost and homeless dogs and has saved more than 3 000 of them. For Zach, a funny thing happened on the way to death – he found life, and he has never let it go.
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