4 years!

This week I am taking an extra moment to think about all of the things I’m grateful for. At the very top of that list is my main squeeze Zoe who we adopted 4 years ago last week (!!) Now I know in this photo she looks like she wants nothing to do with me but trust me when I say this little lady and I are the best of pals. And while I am very grateful for the silly, bed-stealing, playmate that Zoe is now, I am also ever so grateful for how far she has come in the past few years since our first admittedly shaky year together. I’m not trying to air Zoe’s dirty laundry per se, but this is the only place I write things down and I’d very much like to remember our little journey together.

I mentioned it briefly here and if you were in touch with me on a regular basis 4 years ago then you would know that the first year with Zoe I was consumed with her care. This was partially my fault since I’m naturally dog obsessed and prone to worry, but I’d like to lay a fair bit of the blame on the challenges Zoe brought to the table as well. There were the nagging health issues which required so many visits to the vet that I started to worry they would think I suffered from a rare dog centered form of Munchausen Syndrome. And it would be hard to forget the disaster that was housetraining. Heavens to Betsy she really gave us a run for our money in the housetraining arena. We thought we were adopting a housetrained dog and instead Zoe would ONLY pee in the house. Hugely funny in hindsight but exhausting and a little overwhelming at the time. And there was her limitless supply of energy. Every day was a battle to try to tire Zoe out - a battle I probably won 2 times that first year leaving Zoe with the other 363 victories. I remember walking her over 2 hours every day, taking her hiking at 5:45 am before work, and taking her to the dog park multiple times per day and STILL she wanted to play, needed to play, could. not. sit. still. Those things alone were enough. More than enough really. But there were also the behavioral problems that I cringe to remember.

Zoe’s always been a sweet, albeit somewhat timid dog, but that first year we watched her anxiety really get the better of her. She began to growl at other dogs, then children, then people in wheelchairs, and people wearing orange… and so on and so forth. Seeing other dogs on our walk, an inevitability because of our dog filled neighborhood, was something so stressful for Zoe and eventually for me that our walks became more of something to endure than something to enjoy. It got so bad that she would start growling the moment she stepped one little paw out the front door. A pre-emptive attack if you will.

It will surprise approximately nobody that I was hugely distressed by the seemingly ever worsening behavioral issues and that I frantically signed up every dog trainer in the DC area to come to our house and help with her training. When that failed I started dragging Zoe (and Mike) to Rockville for a reactive dog class once a week (reactive being a really nice way for saying aggressive). When that still didn’t make our loveable pup manageable I sent Zoe to doggy boot camp in Virginia for 5 weeks. Lord I feel so crazy even writing this all down but I 1) now see a lot of humor in this and 2) want to remember that first crazy year forever.

When I picked Zoe up front boot camp I received reports that she was the dog trying to rouse the other dogs in the middle of the night to play. She was the wrestle monster of the group if you will. I was ELATED to find how much more manageable Zoe was after boot camp, in part because of her training, but probably more so from mine. This is not to say she wasn’t still crazy but she was so much more manageable. Not long after, we moved to Highclere and put Zoe on Prozac (which sounds so silly but helped a lot) and I can now say she is a 97% easy dog. People I had conversations with during that first year are understandably confused when they meet her gentle little self padding quietly around our house asking for belly rubs from anyone who appears willing. 

So here we are today with arguably the best looking dog east of the Mississippi who will probably never win any contests for best behaved dogs but who is so so much better than she was. Happy 4 year adoption day Zoe!

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  1. oh Zoe dog! what a little rascal. I can't believe it's been that long since you got her!!

  2. Okay I'm a little late to the blog reading game, but I love this post!!! And little miss Zoes.


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