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Stricken Ledyard Boy Marik Tucker Loses His Canine Companion

'Zero the Hero,' a dog who was rescued from Oxford and shared a special bond with a local boy with cancer, has died.

Marik Tucker with his dog, Zero the Hero. Zero died on Tuesday. Contributed
Marik Tucker with his dog, Zero the Hero. Zero died on Tuesday. Contributed
Written by Paul Singley

For the past three months, a former neglected dog from Oxford found compassion, friendship and love.

"Zero the Hero" was the companion of Marik Tucker, an 11-year-old boy in Ledyard with whom he shared a bond: both were deaf and, as it turned out, both were battling serious diseases.

The boy and his dog cherished each other in their short time together. Zero, a German Shepherd who was seized from a woman accused of abusing 41 animals, died on Tuesday. He was believed to be between 8 and 9 years old. 

Kelli Tucker, Marik's mom, posted the news Tuesday on Facebook, where Miracles for Marik has more than 10,000 followers. 

"Thank you so much for the outpouring of love. We loved Zero and tried to give him the very best for the time we had him. He was a huge part of our lives, and Marik is beyond heartbroken," she said before thanking several people, including Oxford Animal Control workers. "He was so sweet and special, and left a huge piece of my heart missing."

Helping Connecticut Canines posted this to their Facebook page Tuesday: 

"Our world lost a sweet, gentle soul this afternoon. Godspeed Zero the Hero. You were truly surrounded by love in your final days and will be truly missed more than words can ever be expressed. Please keep the Tucker family in your thoughts ... especially his best friend, Marik. Terribly sad." 

The dog was left deaf after years of neglect at the Oxford home. A month after the Tuckers brought Zero home, he was diagnosed with heartworm, Lyme disease, a heart murmur and congestive heart failure.

Kelli Tucker told Patch at the time: “I’m glad we didn’t know” that Zero was sick when we adopted him. “I wouldn’t trade (the experience). He’s happy, he’s loved, and however long we have him, his last months will have been really good.”

Several people, including those from the CT Animal House rescue group in East Lyme, donated their support and services to the Tucker family and to Zero.

Meanwhile, Zero provided support for Marik, who was diagnosed last year with osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of cancer that begins in the bones. Marik has had his right leg amputated from above the knee and now spends three weeks of every month receiving inpatient chemotherapy at Yale-New Haven Hospital. 

In the past three months, Marik and Zero showed each other new stages of courage. And as the last line of Kelli Tucker's latest Facebook post indicates, Marik continues his courageous battle: "Marik is feeling a little better today. Eating a little, and looking less ghostly. Clinic tomorrow for a possible transfusion."

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