They were a perfect match for each other. Marik Tucker needed a dog to love and German Shepherd Zero needed love. The two found each other at the Oxford Animal Shelter in Oxford, CT and have since become each other's best friend. Their journey into each other's lives is truly a wish fulfilled.
Ten-year-old Marik, who lives in Ledyard, CT, was a happy and active little boy. Although born with bilateral severe hearing impairment and struggling with speech, Marik lived life to the fullest. One summer day after jumping into the pool, Marik emerged saying that his leg hurt. As his leg began to hurt more and more, his family took him to the doctor who discovered a bone cyst. Further test showed that he had developed an aggressive form of cancer called osteosarcoma. Although he was given chemotherapy it was evident that Marik's leg would need to be amputated to prevent the spread of the cancer. After the amputation, Marik's mother Kelli says that the "once rambunctious boy became a shell of his former self. This is going to affect him his whole life. No one should have to go through this, especially not a child." Looking for a way to raise his spirits, the animal-loving family decided to adopt a dog and went to visit the Oxford Animal Shelter.
For eight years, Zero's life was without love or hope. The German Shepherd, along with 40 other animals, had been severely neglected by their former owner. Once the animals were removed from the home, he was checked out by a local vet. "He was covered with fleas and ticks," Kelli explains. "His teeth were very poor as well because all he ever had to chew on were rocks. He was attached to his dog house at least for 7 years they thought."
As soon as Marik saw Zero, the family just knew from the look on his face, that they had to take the dog home. When Marik found out that Zero was deaf, he was surprised because he did not know that animal could be deaf too. "He's a lot like me," Marik said. "He can't hear like me and he has had a hard time with stuff, like me."
With so much intensive chemo, Marik's immune system, like him, is exhausted. There are days when he just does not want to get out of bed but his Mom will say to him, "Put on your leg and go outside with Zero." It's then that he's up and out the door with his dog. "Zero is not only my son's pal, but he's a great motivator," she said. "He loves being with the family and wants to sit by you all the time," she added. "He's an absolute sweetie. We couldn't have asked for a better dog."
"Marik's been around other hearing impaired children during school time, and now he's seeing it's not just people, it's animals, too," Dad George Tucker said. "He knows how to put a smile on Marik's face, he's like, 'Oh, that's my dog' and he starts smiling. When we found him for adoption, it was kind of like it was meant to be."