We brought Zoie home not quite 10 years ago. Our first dog died unexpectedly and I was convinced the tiny little fuzzball at the pet store needed us. She weighed 1.8 lbs at her first vet visit and in her puppy days I would literally carry her around in my pocket. She was one of the cutest dogs ever. A Pommeranian, Brussels Griffin, Yorkie mix she had Cleopatra markings around her eyes, a bottlebrush tail, a tongue that was too long for her mouth, a slight underbite and the unmistakable air of a princess. She walked with confidence that I’ve only seen in super models- head high, tail up, prancing.
She was happy to the point of idiocy. Her bark was remarkably similar to the noise chickens make. She was scared of her own farts. She liked to shower with me. She had a ball that she loved. A hard, plastic, child’s baseball that was half the size of her body. She would chase her ball around the backyard, soccer style, making funny little noises, until we would take it away from her. I don’t think she ever gave up her ball willingly. She’d lie in the grass, her tongue bright red and hanging out of her mouth, panting for dear life. If we approached her or her precious ball she’d be up and chasing it again in no time. “Zoie,” I would say- as if I were talking to a toddler, “give mama the ball. You’re going to kill yourself.” And I would take it away, forcing her to rest. She loved that stupid ball.
She drove me crazy. Constantly underfoot. Piddling on the carpet. She would eat anything and should have died on at least four separate occasions- including the time she was smashed* in the head with a metal baseball bat. Somehow she was blessed with the constitution of an elephant and our spastic little dog just kept going.
She loved JP. She hated SG and made sure we all knew it. Stealing diapers. Crapping in the middle of our doorway approximately 2 minutes before SG would wake up for a feeding so that one of us would step right in warm poo. On one particularly memorable occasion she stole a poopy diaper while I was changing SG (I changed both kids on the floor because JP was still in diapers and too big for a changing table) and scurried under our bed out of my reach. In a mixture of disgust, rage and hormones I went flying outside for the broom yelling, “I’M GONNA KILL HER.” And just might have. If I could’ve gotten her. We had to replace our bedroom carpet because of that incident.
Zoie had pretty much resigned herself to the role of dog and not oldest child by the time XC came along. She tolerated XC. But I’m pretty sure she regarded both SG and XC as treasonous acts of betrayal on our parts. She wasn’t a good dog for a house with little kids. She was so tiny. So fragile. And she was just ridiculous enough to think she was BIG. Like, Great Dane big. But she was good to them and put up with a lot.
After the bat incident she was never quite the same. She was still happy and bouncy but her health slowly deteriorated. She had a collapsed trachea- an issue that’s apparently common with Pommeranians- and would make disgusting, cringe worthy noises (think 80-year old man, loogie hocking noises). In the last few months she’d slowed down quite a bit. But she seemed happy and would have spurts of energy. And, as long as she was happy and relatively healthy, we were going to leave her alone.
On Monday she started having a hard time. She was kind of lethargic and breathing hard. I started her on her medicine. She wasn’t any better but she wasn’t any worse yesterday and I’d decided if there wasn’t at least some improvement we would go to the vet today. This morning she was worse. Much worse. You could see it in her movements, the way she was breathing, the way she was acting. “I’m taking her to the vet first thing,” I told Mr. G at 6:45. He cringed. Zoie’s vet bills for illness and injury have never been under $200. A little while later she slowly made her way out of the bedroom. “Do you need to go outside, Zozo?” I asked. She headed for the back door but I could tell it was taking a lot of her energy. I scooped her up and carried her and set her gently on the floor. She collapsed. I thought- I hoped- she’d slipped so I tried to stand her up but it was clear she couldn’t. Cradling her I went to our room. It was obvious that she was in distress. The thought crossed my mind that she was dying but she’d had so many close calls that I really didn’t think she would. The last few minutes of her life were spent in my arms and they weren’t pleasant. I don’t think she was really aware of what was going on or in pain. It was scary, though. Very, very scary. I held her against my chest and ran for the car to go to the emergency vet. By the time I closed the car door she was gone.
As stupid as it sounds, I never really thought she would die. Like, ever. I figured it would take a Mack truck to take her out. She was Zoie! Wonder Dog extraordinaire. Damn Dog #1. The dog with nine lives. She was one of my babies. She was part of our family.
I feel enormously guilty. In the last few years I didn’t give her the kind of attention she deserved and was used to. I gave her atrocious home haircuts because I was too cheap to drop $50 to take her to the groomer to be shaved. I would sometimes to forget to refill her food and water bowl and she’d have to chirp a reminder at me. I would scold her for the old man noises because they irritated me. She couldn’t help it. I shouldn’t have done that. I wish I would’ve taken her to the vet yesterday. I hope she wasn’t scared. I hope she felt safe in my arms. I hope she didn’t hurt. I hope she knew that we loved her so, so much.
I loved her with all my heart and am blindsided by how much her death hurts. She was a good little dog. A kind little dog. A smart little dog. I miss her terribly and wish all the peace and contentment the universe has to offer her.
Zoie August 1, 2001- September 6, 2011