Zoe was my guru for 14 years. She was my mentor and trainer for so many of life’s lessons. I learned so much along the way that I am ready now to share. You see, when I was married and kept trying to start a family, I was unsuccessful and this frustrated me. You see, I’d been able to get just about anything I needed or wanted but this. And this was the deal breaker for myself and my husband at the time. That’s when the journey really started and Zoe came into the picture.
While married, we had adopted a beautiful chocolate lab named Bella specifically for my then husband who had grown up with only cats. He was smitten when he finally located the perfect puppy and we brought her home. And since we were not able to have children, I decided to use the name I had chosen for my first child, and that was Isabella. So, our dog became Bella or affectionately known at home as Bella Wella Ding Dong. You see, I love to sing my heart and there was always a song either when greeting her in the morning or before going to bed.
At the time my husband only wanted one dog, but I persisted and after three miscarriages and a dog named Bella, it was time for me to get my own dog. Also, so Bella would have a companion and I could have my own dog to love. In comes Zoe. I found her online through a dog locator while living in Austin. Zoe had been rescued from the farmlands of Bastrop through a rescue agency called Blue Dog Rescue where volunteers would pull dogs out of kill shelters to find homes for them. I remember putting in Lab for the breed and the results included all sorts of dogs that were obviously not labs. Then, I saw little Zoe’s picture and she was a little yellow puppy holding a stick or branch in her mouth. I really wasn’t sure what that was, but that dog was mine. I just knew it as soon as I saw her.
After much debate with my then-husband, I scheduled an overnight visit. I remember waiting outside for when Debbie arrived to bring Zoe to me and she immediately licked my face for quite some time. She brought so much love and light into the house after so much sadness that soon, even my then-husband had the new fangled video camera out to catch her first romp in the backyard with Bella. There was so much laughter and actual photos taken with a real camera since we are now talking about 2003.
That dog wasn’t ever leaving my house after 24 hours and I loved the fact that she was named after the bright yellow and silly character on Sesame Street, Zoe. Zoe soon became affectionately as Zoe Patoadie Coke-A-Floatie and she was my dog. Plus, the name Zoe was Greek for Life. And as soon as she joined our family, I had my first vision before waking up a few mornings later about what was happening with the rest of her litter. I woke up in a panic at what I had just seen and called Debbie to ask about Zoe’s situation before she was rescued. Yes, it was confirmed that originally Zoe’s sister Emma was rescued but when she was taken to the local Veterinarian to get checked out, that miraculously the Veterinarian fell in love with the dog and rescued her right then and right there. Which meant Debbie could go back and get Zoe. And that there was indeed a litter of Yellow Lab and Blue Healer mixed puppies she had to leave behind. Debbie was able to confirm vision.
I was excited to find out that Zoe actually had a sister named Emma and soon I had arranged a doggy play date for them to meet. I remember taking so many photos of these two together and they instinctively knew they were related as they both hugged while on their hind legs. Zoe’s coloring was mostly yellow but when I would bathe her you could see her little black spots on her skin from the blue healer mix, while Emma was a bigger dog and had obvious black and white Blue Healer coloring. They were both so sweet. I also remember that my husband and I had completed our five-year plan to live in Austin and we were busy packing to move to Evergreen, Colorado when Emma arrived. The Veterinarian had asked me if we were interested in adopting Emma since her son had become seriously allergic her, but my husband and I declined.
Zoe was my total companion. She would dance by taking one step at a time and throwing her other little paw in the air. She was my sunshine and I would sing that song to her all the time. But I also made it funny and it went something like this: Zoe, you are my Sunshine! My Only Sunshine! You make me Happy, When Skies are Gray. You’ll never know Zoe-y, How much I love You-y, Please don’t take my Sunshine Away. And every morning we would have, what I called a make out session to greet her for the day and again at night before we went so sleep. Zoe also had her big sister Bella to teach her so many things. Plus, Bella was Italian and meant Beautiful so together they meant a beautiful (Bella) life (Zoe). They were so happy together and whenever my then-husband and I left the house, they were totally great alone together. Which is exactly why I wanted a second dog, so they would take care of each other together and never be alone.
We moved to Evergreen, Colorado and little did Zoe know that she would get fitted for little booties so that she could hike with me every Friday along with the Evergreen Newcomers Club. Every Friday we would go on a different hike with the group and the dogs would all get to be off leash and roam around the forests and the snow. We even installed a double lined doggie door in the house so that we could keep the cold air out and she could go outside any time she wanted. We also had a big red canoe that we used to take the girls out to swim and check out cool islands where they would run around while we canoed around in laughter. At the time we were traveling so often out of the state and the country along with our friends that we ultimately started taking care of each other’s dogs. With so many dogs at different times at our house, our house was affectionately known as Camp Sandy since they would also go hiking with me and always listened to my commands to be safe and have fun.
One time Bella was having to much fun at the beach rolling in something that we soon called her Fish Head since it was a dead fish. Que the next song: Fish Head, Fish Head, Rolly Polly Fish Head – Fish, Head, Fish, Head, Eat Them Up, Yum! OK, that was an obscure song from the 80’s but it was apprapo for how she smelled even after multiple baths with dandruff shampoo. Or the other time while hiking she returned from a group jaunt smelling like Bear dung which is the WORST smell known to man. At the time, our fearless hiking group leader, Julie, couldn’t figure out if we were close to a Bear or it was just one of the dogs. I’ll never forget the ride home with a friend in the back seat of our Audi Allroad as Bella was in the back and would sniff her head. And we had all combined what was left of our water to pour on her to try and get it off of her! I drove fast with all the windows down to help diffuse the smell. This was all before we adopted Zoe.
Zoe was a princess. She even sat on the sofa with her arms crossed and looking regal all the time. Plus, she didn’t like to get wet when she was outside and it was raining. I remember if she wanted to pee and it was raining, I’d take her out the front door to where there was a shielded area of grass from the garage or roof for her to go. I did that for her up until the end, also because she always wanted to smell the fresh grass. She had so much trust and faith in me. If she was on a moving train and I pulled up beside it and asked her to jump, she would just leap without any fear into my arms. And she did this all the time no matter the circumstances around her. She was my first baby even though she had fur.
Although she didn’t like the water, I would eventually have to give her a little push to jump out of Big Red, our super long red canoe when we would spot an island and both Bella and Zoe would swim there. They would run and play on the island as we canoed around it before getting back into Big Red. That was when we had a condo at Keystone and we’d take some time to check out the surrounding areas with the canoe. We’d found Big Red from CraigsList and the original owner had left it outside for years before my then-husband gave it a makeover and a new paint job. She was longer than our Allroad. Our friends kept her when we left Colorado for Geneva, Switzerland but our lives would never be the same.
Zoe had no idea that she would soon get a European Chip in addition to her American Chip and she would learn how to love her crate before flying to Germany. I remember we were so worried about the girls so we spent the month training them by leaving them in their crates for a progressive amount of extended time. And when my then husband’s company wanted to relocate us, I knew that I wasn’t going unless Zoe came with me and they didn’t have to go through any kind of quarantine. What they did have to get was a signature from the USDA for being rated as meat to cross the Atlantic along with a new Rabies shot, which wasn’t that hard. I remember once we landed in Germany, we waited in our rental car for a couple of hours required to receive our pets and we were so happy to find them in perfect condition and happy. The funny part was that all of our internal clocks were off and so the first few days they didn’t know if it was time to eat or go back to bed.
Living over the border of Geneva in a beautiful house in France meant that the Girls and I had the opportunity to run off leash through beautiful private villages along Lake Geneva. Since Bella was too big, Zoe had the opportunity to go with me to Globus, which is a beautiful fashion store and even rode the escalators up to the shoe department where I purchased a pair of Fendi shoes. Plus, she was greeted at Five Star restaurants with a secret little silver water bowl under the table at my feet while we dined. Since my knee was swollen due to a snowboarding incident, Zoe actually attended a doctors appointment with me. I remember the doctor asked me to disrobe to show me some exercises I needed to start doing since I wanted to avoid surgery. I learned which exercises I needed to try with all my clothes still intact. I know, I was such an American back then…
Whenever we traveled while living in Geneva, we used a local kennel that was like a family home but it was entirely expensive. During our trip to Japan, we were gone for about two weeks and when we returned, I could have purchased a new computer for the price we paid for the girls, but they were totally worth it. And in Europe, certain items are considered luxury items and priced accordingly like bed warmers, MAC makeup and pet sitting. Which is why I ended up returning Aveda products and new dog collars that didn’t fit and subsequently learned that you can’t return items in Europe, and started shopping with more of an intent to purchase exactly what I needed.
When my then husband started acting different and ultimately moved into his own place in Geneva, originally he had left Bella with me. But that didn’t last long. Soon, I returned Bella to him and his girlfriend from work during our separation. This is when Zoe became my best friend, confidant, and companion because it was just her and I. She kept me from ever feeling alone and she always knew when I was upset and needed support. Being part lab meant that she had a tail that could clear off tables with one fail swoop. And this also meant that even though she slept on the floor, she would thump the ground with her tail anytime I’d get sad or needed support while I was alone in the big house or in bed.
When I needed an MRI for my knee I had no idea that an IRM or MRI known to use in the states, machine would take up the entire room and I’d have to be still for so long. I remember the attendant gave me a set of headphones to help me relax but all the stations were in French. Being immersed into a massive machine up to my hips, I laid there trying to relax as I looked up and out through a skylight to focus on the light. The entire time the machine made crazy, loud thuds and hums, I focused on seeing my then husband again because I had no idea what happened to him or where he went. And once I completed the MRI scan and followed my GPS to get out of town and back towards my house, I was on the road driving when I saw something that looked like Bella. And across the road I found Bella being walked by my then husband and pulled over to greet them. To say that he was surprised is an understatement. And even Bella was shocked to see me get out and approach them both. For me, it was seeing them both in their new lives that I needed to see. He was actually mad at me for not keeping his dog since he was now having to go home during lunch to take her for a walk.
I remember driving home going full speed on my little two-way road back to Sciez, France passing mile after mile of billions of Sunflower Farms playing the one CD I had from the Foo Fighters with the windows rolled down. Since the drive took almost an hour, the massive faces of the sunflowers that were probably more than twelve feet tall would all turn together as the sun was trying to go down during my drive back to my house. I thought, “No wonder he wanted me to live way out here!” as I cried and sang with Dave Grohl at the top of my voice.
When Zoe and I were forced to return to Houston once the divorce commenced, that would be her last trip over the pond. This time, back in the states was not so nice of a return. As I waited for her at the Special Luggage return, she was delivered to me and had glassy eyes, and looked dry and tired with her little piece of carpet rolled up towards the front of the cage from the back facing out. My cousin had put a plastic bottle of water on her cage and I immediately took her to the closest exit to pee on a piece of grass with cars flying around and she also drank the entire contents of the water. Here in the states, the process of being reunited with your dog didn’t seem nearly as strict as in Europe, even though I was happy that only United had air conditioned services to get her safely back to me during the summer in Houston. Back in the states, even though the service was fully paid for, I still had to give the attendant another fifty dollars in cash for the exit process, while Zoe was obviously stressed out from the trip. Thank goodness she had an oversized cage with extra water and food to start with in Geneva. And even though we started the journey on the same flight, she ended up on a different connecting flight and thankfully arrived before I did and in good health.
Little did Zoe or I know that we would be back in Houston, Texas and move back and forth from home base in Cypress to Austin and downtown Houston a few times before setting off for a road trip to Colorado that would be her last. Along the way, I adopted little Giselle from the same place in Austin and as it turned out the Veterinarian that had adopted Emma was less than a mile from her. Excitedly Zoe and I went to pay her a visit and again, they knew exactly who each other was as they played together. Emma had become a fixture at the Veterinarians office with the other pets and she was thrilled to see Zoe. It was as if we needed to rekindle and retrieve so much love and friendships we had left in the process of following my then-husband to his final destination in Geneva. I always say that I got North American in the Divorce because I really did. And once my then husband finally revealed his true intentions to me for moving to Geneva during my birthday, he had stopped all communication. Zoe and I were on our own and we made it back perfectly fine.
While on our road trip through, it was as if we needed to rekindle and retrieve so much love and friendships we have left in the process of following my then-husband to his final destination in Geneva. I always say that I got North American in the Divorce because I really did. And once my then husband finally revealed his true intentions to me for moving to Geneva during my birthday, he had stopped all communication. Zoe and I were on our own and we made it back perfectly fine.
During my own cancer experience, Zoe was there for me whenever I felt like walking or going out to find nature. She was so well mannered from hiking to shopping that she never really needed a leash. And she was the most loving dog that really just kept to herself. She didn’t need anything or anyone but me. We were the perfect match. But when I was done with my cancer experience, she took on the rest of the disease and had her own cancerous tumor removed a few years later. I remember she had the highest pain tolerance and since I knew this, I kept her on meds as she healed while she kept some part of her body resting on my feet while I worked. Maybe it was during the fugue state where I just started to download my experience into my new IMAC that I barely even showered for weeks as I typed for days at a time. If it wasn’t for her, I probably wouldn’t have eaten meals myself. But whenever I saw that Zoe needed something, I’d stop what I was doing to take care of her and myself. Zoe was my mirror. She reminded me that I was human and needed to rest or eat or go outside to pee. She was amazing like that. She didn’t need much more but the love sessions during the day, morning or night.
When Zoe’s cancer progressed, I kept getting her the attention she needed. Upon one of my returns to home base with my parents, my mother had scheduled a visit from a Feng Shui consultant and it wasn’t during her visit but when she came back to have lunch with me that she commented that Zoe had lost her will to live. I was so surprised and saddened that I knew that she just wanted more of my time to herself. And I had been jetting off to Austin without the girls almost every weekend as my consulting business kept growing.
But once she was diagnosed with Lupus, we were living in Austin for what turned out to be only a few months and reflected the stress that I was also going through. Plus, she started a horrible hacking cough when we were inside the house, and when I couldn’t take any more of the job situation, I knew it was time to hit the road and continue West. I’d wanted to camp and the entire time we were on our Roadtrip in 2016, she never coughed. We were together 24/7 and slowly she resisted getting out of the car because she was just too tired as she was starting to show signs of arthritis in her hind legs. I remember one time while camping in Sunshine Canyon outside of Boulder, Colorado, I was cleaning out the car and reorganizing everything when I shared pieces of a baked chicken with the girls. I remember being so focused on the car that I turned to find the chicken unexpectedly had disappeared.
But it was in Boulder along the creek when Zoe signaled that she was done with the trip. She was sitting on a boulder in the creek when a vortex of wind came along and with a flash of electricity, and my phone signaled that I had received a text from myself. I forget what it said, but it frightened me with it’s reference to moving along in her own journey and away from ours. A new friend was with me and she comforted me as she made the connection for me and shared her insight. I was just too close to the situation to really understand what was happening. I resisted the truth.
A few months later we were living in Telluride and when the new house wasn’t ready for us to move into, we were staying with a friend in a hotel and this is when Zoe’s eyes became infected and she barely wanted to go outside because she hated all the snow. I had bought her a sweater and a jacket so that she wouldn’t be so cold even inside our room, but she was not doing well even though she was on all her meds. Then, just like the pattern of change that happened so many time before, within 24 hours everything changed for us and we were released from both the jobs and housing situations. Free to leave, we spent Christmas packing the car yet again to drive about a block over to a massive home to house sit for the week before returning to Home Base a day before New Year’s Eve.
We were happy to be back in a temperate climate and with family and friends. All I knew was that I was exhausted and I spent the entire month of January just sleeping and regaining my own strength. This is when my mother insisted that we take Zoe to see the Veterinarian. He prescribed a few more meds that cleared up her eyes and helped her regain her own strength so that we were all surprised when we’d hear her nails tapping on the floors as she got up and started walking around. Whatever I was doing, I’d go to her to make sure she got out the front door to do her business, then find the water bowl to drink or eat. Soon, she was back to her usual self and loved the fact that my parents were always there to give her love and support along with their own dogs Coco and George. She only walked around the block a few times and other than that, she would just wait for us all to get back from walking the dogs. I would take Zoe for a ride in the car to our favorite secret place in the forest so she could put her feet in the lake and hang out with me among the trees.
But by now, her hair was falling out in clumps revealing her pink skin spotted with black spots. She needed help getting up and had a hard time balancing on her hind legs so I kept her harness on to help her out. A few times she would actually make it for a walk around the entire block, but mostly she just slept and ate. At the end, she was completely riddled with cancer as her little spirit continued to leave her body behind.
I’d finally made the transition to leave home base once and for all and this is when I was in a public dog park when not once but twice I was approached about Zoe’s quality of life. But it was the second time when a lady named Ashley finally shared her own story about the fact that I had not let Zoe go that finally sunk in and hit my heart. Because she was totally right and I started to hear myself talk about all of Zoe’s continual progressive ailments. That’s when I asked Zoe to blink if it was time to cross the rainbow bridge, and she looked me dead in the eye and blinked. I immediately asked her again, seriously, and she looked me in the eye and blinked with the other eye. Within 24 hours the appointment was made and that morning Zoe proved to me twice again that it was time to go. First, she puked up her dinner that had not been digested and gave me a knowing look because this is what Ashley had shared as a sign that it was time. And then, as Zoe came up the stairs one last time she started to wobble before losing her footing and slide down the entire set of stairs as I just missed catching her harness in the process. The decision had been made.
Even though Zoe had eaten human food throughout her entire 14 years of life, I made sure to give her the rest of my pork bbq and mac and cheese for lunch before we headed to the Veterinarian. Giselle needed a shot before Zoe got a birthday donut with sprinkles from Skye that was perfect! Skye had been my parents’ dog sitter for years so she knew my girls very well and they welcomed her. As I was singing Zoe’s version of the Sunshine song, Zoe looked at me with her exhausted eyes and tired body before putting her head down for the last time. She closed her eyes and snored over the rainbow bridge into peacefulness from her canine experience. Thankful for her time on earth with me, I know she is everywhere with me even now. Even now I can hear her long nails tapping on the floor or her tail thumping the floor whenever I think about her. Thank you, Zoe for being a part of my human experience and for relieving so much pressure from my own heart including cancer for me.
There are so many things for me to share as my life continues and how I always tested my healing gifts with you first! From Theta healing so you could walk to offering love and security when I was camping alone with Giselle, we didn’t mind being visited by the bear, her cub or the coyotes. It was no big thang because we had each other. I love you, I love you, I love you, Zoe. Say hello to Ginger, Raven and Budweiser and all my other pets because as you know I am here for the after party and am thankful to continue my journey with you in my heart.