We recently lost our beloved dog, Zoey. She lived eight wonderful years and losing her was devastating. She was our baby before we had babies. She was special, never just a dog to us.
When my husband came home from the emergency vet, both boys were asleep. We sat in silence together, staring at the paw print he brought home from the vet, with a clipping of hair from her tail. I stated that I don’t know how we’re going to tell Zane. He said “I do. I’m gonna tell him her story.”
“Her story?” I asked.
“Yeah. Why we got her, how much we loved her, the things we’ve done with her…”
The story of her life. Not the story of her death.
So that’s how I’m going to tell it here. Her life was cut short, and it was fairly traumatic (a story I may tell at a later date), and that’s not how we want to remember her. Her life was beautiful and full of love, and she made us so happy.
(This will get lengthy, and it will be image heavy. Just a warning.)
When Clint and I got married in June 2009, we knew we wanted a puppy and a baby. The puppy came first and much more easily. We found an ad for chihuahua lhasa-poo puppies on the bulletin board of a groomer. This sounded about right. We met the lady in a Walgreens parking lot. She brought the two females she had available. One was black with coarse chihuahua-like fur. The other was white with black and a little brown and fluffy as can be. Both were shy. The furball stole our heart and we brought her home that day. She rode home up on my shoulder most of the way. This became a thing for her.
It took a few days to find the right name, and “Zoey” seemed to fit. The first week or so she wasn’t sure about us. She didn’t go out of her way to snuggle with us and didn’t seem to care if we were around or not. But once she decided we were good people, boy did she love us. Coming home to our excited little ball of fluff was the best! She would greet us at the door, whining and jumping at us. She waited outside the shower for us, whining the whole time. She didn’t like being away from us. This definitely set the tone for our co-dependant doggie. As she got older, she always hated when we left. She would always scratch and bark at the door. Our door shows it.
This girl of ours had all our love. I quit my job to stay home (for other reasons) shortly after we got her. I would get up with her every few hours to make sure she didn’t pee in our bed. My mommy instincts kicked in and I was aware every time Clint moved, to make sure he didn’t roll onto her. We brought her with us everywhere we could. We took her on little trips to drive-throughs and pet stores… any place where pets were allowed. Before she was a year old, I took her to a Bark For Life event and she one 2nd cutest dog.
Through her first winter, we kept her hair long. I wanted to see what it would do, how it would look as it got long. But coming home from a visit with friends a couple hours away on a warm April day, I realized she was hot with all that fur and we began keeping her hair short. She had some funny haircuts when we tried to do it ourselves. We were terrible.
We took Zoey on our first anniversary trip to Sedona. We planned the whole thing around her, not wanting to put her in a kennel or have to ask someone else to check in on her. We couldn’t leave our co-dependent girl! We had dinner on the patio of a restaurant my mom used to take my brother and I to as kids; We played in the creek at Red Rock Crossing.
And let me tell you, my husband wasn’t just going along with bringing her places for me. Oh no. That dog stole his heart. He loved her so much. He’s a manly man with a great big soft spot for this tiny little girl.
Time went on. She comforted me when my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. She was with us as we relocated to where we live now, she traveled with us when we visited family and friends, she endured many days spent alone while we both worked. She played with many children and many dogs, big and small. Sometimes we thought she must believe she was 10 times the size she was. She only weighed about eight pounds but she would chase the big dogs down the street. Most cats were bigger than our girl, but she never hesitated to give them the boot from our yard.
Oh and this girl could jump so high. She could leap over our four foot fence with no problem… Well it was sometimes a problem for us. But we found that she didn’t want to leave the yard unless we did. If we left her outside, home alone, chances are she would jump over and try to find us. But as long as we were in the yard, so was she (except for the occasional chasing of a cat or dog, of course). She wanted to be where we were. Well, who am I kidding, she wanted to be where Dad was. She loved him so.
She may have hated the water, but she loved going on adventures with us. We took her on many camping trips where she’d explore as far as we’d let her go. She’d get over her water issues to try to get the ducks. She’d get the best meals of hamburgers and steaks. She would dig in the sand looking for cooler ground. She would lay in the sun and just enjoy her sweet life.
Zoey was with me through my first successful pregnancy. She went on our baby-moon with us to San Francisco. Another trip we planned around her. I did so much research to make sure we had plenty of pet-friendly restaurant options. Traveling with a dog means getting up and dressed when she starts whining to let her out. This was usually Clint’s job if it was close to time to get up. It was usually my job in the middle of the night (this was foreshadowing motherhood, I just realized).
I was on bed rest the last few weeks of my pregnancy and I had my Zoey by my side as I laid on the couch playing Farm Town and watching TV. She actually liked to lay on the side of my big ol baby belly.
We welcomed Zane in June 2013.
This was an adjustment for Zoey. She gravitated even more toward Clint as I always had the baby on my lap or in my arms. The spot on my legs where she used to lay now belonged to Zane. She fought for her spot for a while but ultimately gave it up. But still she had a happy life and a warm spot in our bed. She usually slept up on our pillows by our heads. Often when I’d get up in the middle of the night, I’d come back to bed to find her on my pillow. But I never moved her. I’d lay my head on the corner of my pillow and let her be comfortable. Most nights of her life, she was carried to bed by one of us. Spoiled.
When Zane was less than a month old, my husband was up late one night and Zoey was outside and got sprayed by a skunk at about two in the morning. This is where Clint’s love for her really shined, I love this story… I did what I could to help, but I had a newborn to care for. I couldn’t get skunk spray on me, nor could she get in bed with us that night. He gave her a bath with the hose and did everything he could do at that time of night to help her and get rid of the smell. Being new parents, we weren’t sure it was okay to bring her to bed, so this man of mine grabbed a couple blankets and they slept outside together. The next morning we took her to town (over an hour away) to a groomer for a de-skunking and a haircut. She still smelled a little like skunk, and even when it went away, it came back when she was wet.
Our Z babies, as we called them, spent the next couple years together. As a family of four, we traveled to Oregon to visit my mom and step dad, and to Arkansas to visit my family there. To visit Clint’s parents six hours away, to the pumpkin patch each October, to the 4th of July festivities, to the park and to birthday parties. We still took our girl with us when we could. Between Clint and I, we could handle the two of them.
During the years, she rarely got sick. I can only think of one time she needed antibiotics, when she got hay fever. She saw a groomer regularly. She was a healthy happy girl.
When your best friend is a photographer, you get to try your silly ideas for photos of your baby and his best doggie friend.
Then came Pepper. In August of 2015, I was about halfway through my pregnancy with Laken and a friend of mine had a dog she needed to rehome. Her busy family schedule just didn’t allow much time for Pepper the pug. So we decided to take this two year old girl in. We had been saying for quite some time that Zoey needed a buddy. Someone to be with her when we couldn’t be. Zoey wasn’t sure about Pepper at first, but once they warmed up to each other, it was a great fit. Pepper is a solid kid dog. Zane was able to play with her in the rough way that toddlers do, and it didn’t phase Pepper, whereas Zoey would usually find a high spot to hide. (Pepper also brought out Zoey’s inner lesbian, but this isn’t that kind of blog).
With the addition of Pepper, it became more difficult for us to take the dogs places. So they got left home more often. We didn’t take them to birthday parties or most day trips anymore. It was hard to wrangle a toddler and two small dogs. We still always took them on long trips though, anything over night. If we couldn’t take them, they stayed with Clint’s sister.
In November 2015, we welcomed Laken into the world. We were a family of six, and we were complete.
The biggest change for Zoey now that Laken was born was that Clint often had a toddler on him now that I had the baby on me. She got less attention than she was used to, but she still got carried to bed most nights, and she still had a spot in our bed, and she still had a big piece of our hearts.
Zoey had a good life. A life out of a cage, a life surrounded by love, happiness, laughter and family.
Zoey was like our first child. We loved her so much, and we miss her every day. It’s taken me weeks to get this post together, to find all the pictures and make all the collages. I wanted to honor her in the right way. A way that would make my husband proud, a way that showed just how loved she was, and will always be.
Rest in peace, you beautiful girl. ❤