Wednesday, September 1, 2010
a letter of love
My Sweet Sweet Zoe,
My first "baby", my companion, my kids' protector and playmate, my loyal friend. You gave us so much over your 11 years on this earth. You were always there with a sloppy kiss and your famous full body wag. A bad mood or sad day could easily be turned around with some of your puppy love.
I remember picking you out of your litter. [Pat still gives me grief that I chose the active pup instead of the laid back one -I had read that a lethargic pup could indicate an illness]. That first year or two with you were so important to me. Your companionship got me through the lonely nights as a newlywed whose husband worked long/late hours. You were there with me when I had moments of doubt, moments of fear, and moments of joy. You listened, without judgement, when I rambled on about God knows what.
When Sarah was born, you were so curious, yet cautious. It was as if you knew a great friend had come into your life and you so wanted to play with her. But you knew to be gentle and patient, in ways I had never seen. You became Sarah's companion and she came to love you like I did, maybe even more deeply.
As each new baby arrived, you learned the joys of a never ending stream of crumbs and treats that would end up on the floor. Always patient with the girls, you let them climb all over you, try to ride you like a horse, and pull your tail. I am so grateful that you never snapped at them, never growled, never gave us any cause for concern. In fact, you were so giving and forgiving, that you would allow Emma to sneak kibble from your bowl, even as you were eating it.
I know that as the years went on, the attention we showered with you began to fade. It never meant that we loved you less. There were times when you demanded our attention and would flip your head up under our hands so that we would pet you, over and over again. I wish I could go back and make sure you always felt loved and needed.
You were a wonderful dog, but a horrible Labrador. I will never forget our first trip to Deep Creek Lake, Maryland; you refused to go but knee deep in the water, and were afraid of the ducks. You rarely retrieved anything. You barked at anything (or nothing), but surely would just lick a burglar upon entry. You always seemed to be underfoot, but that was only because you always wanted to be around us. You were never content to spend long periods of time outside or away from us. You always seemed to want to be in the same room as us, and that was just fine.
This last year aged you and I don't know why. Just Sunday afternoon as we laid on the floor petting you, I looked into your eyes and I saw how tired you were. Little did I know that would be the last time we would share that moment.
I want you to know that you were so important to this family. We miss you so much in all that we do. In fact, as we were driving your body to the veterinarian's office, I turned to Daddy and said, " you know, I looked at the food on the counter and thought 'we better put it up or Zoe will get it'". It turns out that Daddy thought the same thing! We both shared a laugh and at that moment I realized how your presence touched every aspect of our lives.
We are healing, slowly. Sarah was upset, as you can only imagine. You and she had a special relationship, one that can never be duplicated. Daddy and I are grieving for our first baby and it is hard.
I hope that you didn't suffer in the end, but I am grateful that you passed away while Daddy was off of work, sparing the girls and I from coming home to find you after their first day of school. I hope that you knew...know how much you were loved and appreciated. I hope you are chasing the bunnies, and maybe a few ducks too!