Good-bye to Zoe

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

For the second time this year, I have had to put a beloved dog friend down. Here I tell my heartbreaking story of loss and why I believe God has given me a calling and how my suffering for another will be repaid.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." Romans 8:18

I lost Zoe one week ago today.

I have no regrets even though I was rooked out of one-thousand dollars in cash and given an unhealthy dog to adopt three months ago. She was older, sure. I didn't expect her to last forever. But I didn't expect her to be so damaged that she suffered even while getting the best of care. When things like this happen, I have learned to do one thing. I seek help from the Heavenly Father to learn why these things happen.

I do not have a lot of money. I have never had a lot. What I've had is a passion for helping dogs who have no one else. Over the years, I have learned so much, I have an answer to just about any problem. That is what happened in the case of Zoe. She needed me more than I needed her. At this point in my life, since I am on Social Security, I need to start thinking about me. But because I was born with a calling, I was willing to love one more time. I promised my love interest that I'd never adopt another dog. After losing Daisy in March, I was convinced I'd have no desire for it. She was my best friend and bed mate for eight long years. At only nine-years-old, I figured I'd have another three or so with her. But that was not the case. She began throwing up a day after my neighbor accused me of stealing her cat. The veterinarian charged me $800 for pills I'd have to shove down her throat which seemed cruel to me but I didn't know what else to do but take the doctor's advice. Of course, I had to call B. and ask for help paying the Bill. I could only get three-hundred dollars out of the bank. He put the rest on his credit card and was not happy about it. He has a lot of money -- at least ten mil as far as I know -- but he has a lot because he hates to spend it. He still has his mother's dish rack from 1974 in his garage and refuses to buy paper towels because they're a waste of money. I call him frugal. He calls himself a "cheap bastard.": He may have the money to save me in my time of need, but I'll never live it down and he will never let it go. I will be punished for having a good heart, for seeing the greater good at helping another in need even at my own expense, for all eternity.

Two days later, I woke up and found Daisy in deep distress. She was thrashing around on the bed and hissing. When I tried to take her in my arms, she moved away from me. That is when I knew she was in deep trouble. She has not rejected me a single day since I took her out of a rescue eight years ago. No one has ever loved me as well as Daisy did and that is why when the veterinarian at the animal urgent care said that hospitalizing her to the tune of a thousand dollars was her best shot, I had to take her up on it.. I'll admit I was selfish. I couldn't imagine living without her. We'd only been a part for three days in all those years when I was in the hospital. I wasn't ready to let her go. I wanted to be able to live with myself when she was gone, knowing that I'd given her that best shot. I made another call to Bill and another request to use his credit card. He was not happy about it but he did it because in his own warped, dysfunctional way, he loves me.

I then asked him to call the vet and give permission to put her down. I couldn't do it. My mouth wouldn't say the words. To force me to do such of thing would have led to my undoing. And so he did that too.

A good friend, not so much a great partner.

He drove me home from McDonald's while I was racked with despair. After three days in the hospital, not eating unless she got a stimulant, all hope was gone. They could prolong her life but all quality would be gone. I sobbed and swore I'd never get another dog. That lasted for about three months and then on June 9, 2021, I paid $150 for a rehoming fee for Zoe, a yellow Chihuahua that was "elderly." According to the story given to me by her rescuer, she had been a street dog in Arizona before being adopted by an older couple. They had died from COVID only days a part and the rescuer had found Zoe in a kennel starving to death and covered in filth. She took good care of that dog. She paid for a vet exam, licensing, food, a crate, toys, and a bed. Eventually, she adopted Zoe out to a guy named "Mike" who had to give her back because he was moving. "Moving" is the code word in dog rescue for "something is wrong with the dog." I've been taking care of dogs for years and have a lot of tools in my tool box so I didn't let his excuse dissuade me.

Zoe puked and peed everywhere. On the first night at home, she threw up on three nightgowns when I climbed back into bed, shuddered when I closed the bedroom door, and cried out in her sleep when she slept on the floor. Finally, I did what I used to do with my human babies. I brought in my rockintg chair and rocked her gently as I watched the sun come up. Having her so at peace while lying in my arms is perhaps my best memory of all time.

The veterinarian had said that street dogs often gulp there food, swallowing it whole because they are used to having toi grab for everything they can while they can. I have heard of this, but that in itself was not Zoe's problem. I discovered one day that she had no back teeth and so she couldn't chew her food. Sometimes she went for four days without eating a bite. Once I fed her soft, wet food, I had to feed her three times a day. She couldn't get enough and would always look at my roommate's hands when he entered the room, hoping to find a nice piece of hot dog. If he had one, she'd scarf that too.

After the first night, Zoe would come running whenever I sat in the rocking chair. Sometimes she'd stay a long time, sometimes she'd sit for only a minute and then hop down. Enough of that stuff . . .

At first, I'd put her on a leash but she'd refuse to budge. I suppose she thought she was going on another one-way trip and was fighting it with all she had. Once she discovered that she was only going for a short walk, she was happy to join me. As summer rolled in and the asphalt became too hot for her tender paws, I put her in the buggy I'd bought for Daisy. While Daisy had hated it and refused to lie down, Zoe ate it up. I'd watch her through the netting on top. She w as as relaxed as she could be, watching the world through the small window in front of her and not even making a fuss when another dog came along. Daisy could have taken a lesson from her.

A month after adopting her, I texted her rescuer and told her about Zoe's new life. "She's spoiled rotten," she replied. "I love it!" I realized that my whole world did resolve around Zoe and it was a comfort. I have problems with anxiety due to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and found on my own that dogs were a help for it.

I took Zoe on trips to San Aliso where we people-watched as she lay at my feet, the ocean near Camp Pendleton in the distance. This was our place, our special spot and to be truthful, now that she is gone, I don't think I can go there again. I think about the eight-year-old boy who pet her and told me about his dog when we were there last time. I was so happy to be around kids again. I was so happy to be with Zoe. My family has abandon me and maybe that is why I feel a kinship with dogs like Zoe. We both need somebody desperately.

Three months in, she was no longer throwing up and she'd hop around and smile when I went to open the door. I noticed that her back legs were giving out. I refused to accept that this might be the beginning of the end. I had hoped that we'd at least have two years together. It seemed only faird in the grand scheme of things. I cringed when I saw the bill for the special food she was eating. But wasn't it worth it? What is one-hundred dollars a month when what you get back is love?

She'd always done a little weezing but that's what old dogs tend to do. Then the weezing got much louder. She choke and gag and drool.  By Sunday night, I realized she was in deep trouble. As soon as the vet's office opened, I made a call. There were too many dogs at the office and I was referred to the animal urgent care where I'd left Daisy only six months earlier. That place was full too. I wound up taking her out of town to a place I'd never heard of. She thrashed around on the car seat beside me, choking, spitting, gasping for air. Buckle her up as I usually do? To hell with it. It was quite clear that she was dying.

I parked in space 7 and attempted to text the animal emergency room as a sign instructed me to do. The chaos that engulfed my brain wouldn't allow my fingers to hit the buttons. Finally, I called. "I'm sorry, I don't know how to text . . ."

"That's okay. Bring her to the front door and we'll take her. By the way, we'll need eight hundred dollars before we let her in."

I had three.

"That's okay. We'll start with that. Please wait on the bench."

Three hundred dollars bought me an exam and a shot to make her comfortable. Another three hundred or so will by three X-rays to her neck. I had to call B. 

At a pricey place like this, the doctor came out, sat next to me, and talked about quality of life. Zoe had a mass in her throat. If he operated, it could turn out to be cancer but the mass was consistent with an injury caused by strangulation or being hung by her collar. He supported my decision either way -- to euthanize her or to do surgery. I couldn't imagine she'd have years of a quality life left if she got the surgery so there was only one choice to make. This time, I signed the euthanasia permission slip myself after making the call to B. Another four hundred dollars on his credit card. He'll take the money out of a some stock profits he made as a result of my financial advice but even so, he wasn't happy.

I was taken to the "comfort room" that didn't give me any comfort at all. I was asked if I wanted to be present when the procedure was done. God no! I tend to overthink and don't need that image spinning in my head. Do I want the "Cremains?" God no! What would I do with them?

I was allowed to leave and I walked away, so consumed in shock, I couldn't even cry. And in a strange way, I feel I fulfilled a mission. Zoe cost me a lot of money and alot of time of my knees cleaning up her mess. But God knew I was the best person to see her through to the end and so he called on me. One day I'll be rewarded just like I was after 2008.

During the Great Recession, I volunteered at a shelter where numerous dogs were coming in but few were going out. Volunteers were out of work and had plenty of time on their hands to help foster dogs until they found homes, but no funds to pay the fee that would get them exited. I had a writing gig and so I had some money. I had no business using it to save dogs, not when soimetimes I was going hungry. But I gave it anyway because I knew God would repay me one day for having faith. That faith came a few years later when I met B. He paid for dental implants so that my bite was in alignment and I was out of pain. He paid for a heater so that I wouldn't be cold. He paid for a pipe to get fixed in my old mobile home so that I could have hot water and a stove that worked. He paid for a used car so I didn't have to walk for miles. There was no bus or taxi where I lived.

He didn't lavish money on me. As he put it, he "got me up to normal." Knowing that God took care of me in my most desperate time of need has comforted me in the fiasco I went through with Zoe. I will be rewarded one day for the suffering I was willing to take on another being's behalf. I am certain of it. The sacrifice was worth it. I just wish B. saw it that way.

Submitted: October 04, 2021

© Copyright 2023 Melinda Ross. All rights reserved.

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