Friday, March 12, 2010

Going into that long goodnight

Zoe is our bright and adorable collie/Australian shepherd mix dog. We took her off the hands of our next-door neighbor in Michigan when they lacked the requisite brain cells to have their dog fixed - thus resulting in 8 (yes - 8!) puppies! Of course they tried to pawn those puppies off on everyone, and my kids (aged 2, 6, and 9) went ballistic. Of COURSE they wanted a puppy - who doesn't puppies are cute; that is God's way of insuring you continue to care for them until they are grown.

I told the children, if there one of the chocolate brown girl puppies still available, we will get her. Otherwise it was no deal. So OF COURSE the lady had a chocolate brown girl (little did I know she would grow into a beautiful blonde!) so we got her. When Zoe came into the house, she was the tiniest little thing - Kaya would put her in her stroller and wheel the puppy around the kitchen.

We cage trained her and behaviorally trained her, since I don't have much patience at all. And what a reward she was - she caught on and was so obedient! One morning, when she was now all grown up) she was in her cage and could see out the back window at the deer in our back yard. She knew she wasn't allowed to bark in the house, so she kept making this low "wuuf" sound instead of a bark. It cracked me up that she was trying to "whisper bark."

Her favorite thing in all the world, outside of my son that is, would have to be the frisbee. She could actually catch them in mid-air! Just like the trained dogs at the fair or at Sea World! The kids thought it was the best trick ever. And if she got off her leash and didn't want to come back, all we had to do was show her the frisbee and she would come a runnin'!

When we had to move to California, she was the pet that was still young enough to go. She was only three at the time, and we got her a dog seatbelt for the car. She sat in the back with Aden, on her pillow on the seat, and was the most well behaved dog of all time. She didn't climb around; she didn't bark (naturally); she just sat patiently next to her Boy, as though she knew this was an important moment and she was taking it all in.

She became much more spoiled when we moved to CA, as we lived in a little apartment with no real patio, so she became much more of an indoor dog. While she did miss the snow (she loved catching snowballs in her mouth!), she enjoyed the life of leisure inside the apartment even more! We put her dogbed in Aden's room, and she was in Heaven, sleeping under his loft bed every night. We did not live the best life in this apartment, and for a year and a half, Zoe was Aden's only real friend.

After we almost killed her with some bad flea treatment, and got her funny hives under control, we moved to our current house, where, for the first time ever, Zoe had a back yard with a fence. This meant no more leashes; she could run free to her heart's content in that back yard, and there was not one place she left untouched. Even though it was mostly dirt, she loved her freedom. The kids would spend lots of time with her in the back, throwing balls and frisbees, and she was happy.

Then we got the pools, and if it is possible for a dog to be ecstatic, it was she.

Much like the snowballs of Michigan, Zoe loved having WATER thrown at her - again she would try to catch it in her mouth! So when we got the pool and would splash around, she would run around the pool, jumping and barking, playing with the splashing kids and catch as much water as she could until she gave out and crashed in the shade.

Then that same summer, she started having seizures. Not little ones, big ones. Ones that left a bloody, urine and vomit mess in the bathroom. We got her some meds, started keeping her more outside and in the garage and the meds managed her seizures a bit. When they came back, we got her more meds, but they slowed her down. When we forgot to refill the script for 2 weeks, and realized she didn't have a seizure that whole time, we took her off them for a bit, and our energetic Zoe was back. She was chasing balls and frisbees again, playing with the kids, and Aden started taking her for walks in around the neighborhood.

Then this week she had about three seizures in two days, so we knew it would be another trip to the vet and more meds. Then on Thursday morning, she had such a large one, or enough of them, that her brain started breaking down. She didn't recognize us (still so friendly and docile and loving though - the brain damage didn't change the core personality, her soul possibly?) and Craig put her in the back yard. She wasn't walking well, and she couldn't seem to see well either. It was funny to watch her walk around and try to climb on things, but in such a sad way.

Over the course of Thursday, she had at least one more seizure, and now the Zoe's knowledge of us was gone; we were just some nice people in the house who fed her, when she could find the food bowl. We tried to get her into the garage last night, but she wouldn't come in the house and I wasn't about to force her. Plus, though it would be cold at night, she was probably safer in the backyard than the garage with all the bikes and tools and such. Aden and I got her a warm blanket and showed her where is was a few times, and spent some time trying to play with her a bit, and pet her. She was stumbling around badly at this point, and Aden knew; he knew that this was the end and cried and cried and I cried with him.

Today we woke up and she is pretty much gone - I was surprised she made it through the night. We have an appt. with the vet this afternoon, but I don't think she will make it. We will have to call him this morning and set up a different type of visit. Zoe's seizures are almost constant; she can't walk much at all, and I'm so glad Craig is staying home - I wasn't sure how I was going to get the dog into the van to even get her to the vet. She is laying down a lot, is a daze, with drool from her most recent seizure hanging from her mouth, and she is not there. Our dog is gone; her body has just not caught up with her yet.

So today Craig and Aden (if he wants to go) will take her to the vet for her last visit. They may have to carry her, and I have a blanket ready to go. It's one that a friend, who has a special fondness for dogs, gave us years ago. I thought it fitting to give it to Zoe as we say our final goodbyes to a dog I didn't really want, but ended up nuzzling her way into all our hearts. I pray for strength for both myself, but more for my son, who is losing one of his closes friends.

I believe there is a special Heaven for dogs, where there will be plenty of meat scraps from the table, lots of balls and frisbees, and God's loving hands rubbing her belly whenever she wants.