— Lemony Snicket (The Reptile Room..Book 2 in A Series of Unfortunate Events)
In August of 2000, while living in New Mexico, we lost our rat terrier, Ivan, to an immune deficiency disease. I missed him so much. Then, on December 22 of the same year, my, unbeknownst to me soon to be former husband, did, what proved to be, the last kind action in our marriage.
On his way to work he passed a very small rat terrier sitting just before the crossing on the bridge over the Rio Grande. The temperature was 18 degrees…there were no cars…nothing…just this very little dog.
He picked her up and returned with her to the house. She had no collar...no way to identify her. We tried to find her owners but were unsuccessful. We thought she must have gotten out of an RV that had stopped to admire the view and her owners drove off…not realizing she was gone. She could not have been out very long. Aside from bad teeth, she had been well cared for, spayed, and liked people. She weighed 9 pounds.
I named her Zoey. It did not take us long to realize that Zoey was completely deaf. Not even the loudest sound secured her attention. Our vet said she appeared to be about 5 years old and that her deafness was congenital. This went a long way in explaining how she could have slipped out with nobody noticing.
She was almost completely silent. She never knew her name in words…we used a hand signal. I put a bell on her collar so I would know where she was. At first it was a turkey bell and then as she got older it was a large jingle bell. The bell was Zoey.
She begrudgingly joined our dog pack which consisted of the ALPHA, Mandy (a black Irish setter/dachshund cross), and Brutus, the Pointer. Like all rat terriers Zoey wanted to be boss but Mandy would not allow it.
Zoey proved to be tough as nails. She survived severe pancreatitis, and a rattlesnake bite. Being deaf she could not hear the warning rattle. She carried the triangle shaped scar on her shoulder for the rest of her life.
Zoey was my shadow…she followed me everywhere….her bell announcing her presence.
Four months later my husband left and three years later I moved to Florida with my three dogs. For Zoey this meant that all bets were off…this was new territory and she set out to claim it. When Mandy passed away at the age of 18…Zoey proclaimed herself THE ALPHA…her minion was supposed to be Brutus.
|See previous blog entry LOSING BRUTUS|
She spent the last five years trying to make Brutus believe it. He never did. The only time she ever barked was at him…she knew whenever he entered the room and tried all she could think of to make him do what she dictated. She devoted enormous energy in thwarting his presence. Mostly he ignored her.
But still she followed me, bell jingling and every night slept under the covers in the crook of my leg…. this little warm body…sweet and comfortable. And the years passed….Zoey had some liver and kidney issues but all were under control…she just continued. She developed cataracts and became almost blind…but still followed me….scenting my path with astounding accuracy. Looking at her one would not realize that she was more than likely close to 17 years old.
Then, on Monday, July 11th, Brutus was gone….and from that day forward Zoey began to fade. I was wrong when I said that she would not miss him…she did. He was her energizer, her purpose for each day…and at some level…her pack.
One week to the day of Brutus’s passing Zoey’s kidneys failed and she left this world in a lovely peaceful room at the animal emergency hospital…cuddled in a beach towel, in my lap… just before midnight, while it was still Monday, on the 18th of July.
I had to write this. Zoey is my last dog. She was my shadow. She demonstrated courage and determination every day. She was a survivor and she was my special little friend.
What were the odds of finding a small pure bred rat terrier sitting on the Rio Grande bridge in the middle of NOWHERE New Mexico…what were the odds of her being found by a family who had just lost a beloved rat terrier? Zoey was a gift…a gift for which I will always be grateful.
I so miss the sound of her bell jingling through the house…always seeking me…always finding me….the “sound of silence”….the saddest sound in the universe….