Sunday Confessional: I miss Zoey and am also glad she’s gone

As Zippy and Zebu watch football right now, this photo from my phone reminds me of another recent football Sunday. On that day in November, Zoey and Emma were Zippy’s (napping) football buddies.

It’s been almost two months since we said goodbye to Zoey and I must confess her absence has been easier to handle than witnessing her decline. I’m grateful for the years we had together and thankful she’s no longer suffering pain and confusion. (Bonus: she’s also free of all Broncos games!)

Saying goodbye to an old friend

In a few minutes, a kind veterinarian is going to arrive at our home to help us say goodbye to Zoey. She’s lived with us the past 13+ years which is more than half of Wildebeest and Zebu’s lifetimes. This morning Wildebeest said goodbye before  heading back to his home that’s a six-hour drive from here. Zebu will be with Zoey at the end.

Zoey’s last trip to Westcliffe. August 12, 2017

We’d originally hoped to say goodbye to Zoey tomorrow because it’s my birthday today. But when the vet offered to come this afternoon it seemed the best option. Zoey’s tired and has had enough, and it felt wrong to delay the inevitable. We’ve definitely made the right decision for her, but the mood is less than festive.

Rest in peace, our sweet Zotato.


Exactly one year and one day ago Emma came to stay. Not a whole lot has changed since then, except that we still haven’t mastered not-blurry photos of her AND elder-dog Zoey now has one more “damn millennial” to shake her head at AND cat-brothers Loki and Marcel have mostly put aside their differences to join forces against the high-energy pupster AND strangers now stop Zippy and me on the street to inform us that Emma is so very cute.

As if we hadn’t noticed.


A room with a furry view

Yesterday I moved my writing desk from the living room into my weight room / standing desk room / ginormous whiteboard room. The animals are all a bit confused by the change, and are taking turns hanging out with me. Zoey and Emma were just underneath the desk where Zoey quivered in fright because of thunder while Emma slept on my feet.

This is Marcel from earlier in the day. Right after this photo was taken, he noticed his tail and started chasing it. Confession: I have yet to look away from a cat chasing his tail. I’m dialed into those feline hijinks for the duration, and will watch as long as the cat continues to act the fool.

The change in venue feels good for my writerly brain and psyche, but so far, the animal distractions are more than I bargained for.


Welcome, Emma

Zippy and I adopted another dog today.

Can’t really tell from the above photo, but Emma is a whole lot of Corgi. And you know what that means…

looong body and short legs!

Okay, that’s still not a great representation (she’s hard to photograph because she likes to be on the move). But trust me, she’s got an unusual build. Despite her looks, she’s very strong and fast.

Zippy took this next one with his phone which means not-so-great quality. However, even that old phone can’t prevent Zoey’s happiness from shining through.

We’re happy to restore the household balance back to 2 humans, 2 cats, and 2 dogs. (Not to mention the approximately 2k worms in the basement.) As for the name “Emma,” it’s growing on me. She’s answered to that name for at least the last year so we’re loathe to confuse her with another. We temporarily floated “Gemma” but Zebu immediately responded to that text with “She’s adorable, but you’re gonna have to change that name.” Wildebeest said “Gemma” reminds him of some psycho female character on Sons of Anarchy.

Emma is starting to sound better and better.


What it means to be an artist

To be an artist means never to avert one’s eyes.
~ Akira Kurosawa


Yes, I absolutely agree with Mr. Kurosawa. Art calls for the unflinching truth. However, sometime’s I’m with Zoey and just want to avert my gaze. Sometimes it’s just too damned much to process.


You can teach an old dog new tricks

Zoey has lived with us for the past eleven years and for the majority of those years, remained in either the house or yard. She (and Coco) didn’t get to go on neighborhood walks (or open space hikes) because they were out of control on leashes. When they saw another dog, no matter how far off in the distance, they’d bark, growl, lunge, and generally behave in a bat-shit manner.


Zoey right after we got back from today’s walk.

At one point early on, we spent a whole lot of money to have a personal dog trainer work with us. That strategy ultimately failed because of a lack of consistency. The dogs responded to me as the alpha, but couldn’t care less about pushover-Zippy’s commands or young Wildebeest and Zebu with their high voices and unassertive attitudes. The dogs still believed they were the alphas who needed to protect the pack.

It all came to a head years ago when I took Zoey and Coco for a walk. They went nuts when they saw another dog, and in their ensuing barking / twirling / lunging, knocked me to the ground. Both my knees were thoroughly black and blue.

That was it for me. I no longer felt guilty about having two dogs that never, ever left the yard.

And then Coco died. To help Zoey through her grief, we started walking her once a day. I’ll admit that it hasn’t been an entirely pleasant experience (one walk lasted a full three minutes because I had to drag Zoey home after she went ballistic at the sight of another dog), but I am pleased to say we’re having some enjoyable walks. Today’s, for example.

Zoey still has an alpha attitude, but she’s older and wiser (and a little less strong). I’m grateful we can give our old girl the gift of a daily walk.




Synchronized sunbathing


Marcel and Zoey soaking up the sun together.

Zippy took this with his phone so quality isn’t great, and I’m wishing I’d adjusted Zoey’s tail to match Marcel’s (and maybe also Zoey’s rear left leg), but other than that, it’s a perfect photographic representation of their friendship.




Thankful Thursday: The ADD Edition


Today I’m thankful for my mental and emotional flexibility.
Exhibit A is this photo of Cliff Swallows.
I was searching my photo files for a picture of my dog Zoey,
and opened an unlabeled file in hopes of finding one there.
Instead, I found this eighteen-month old photo of those delightful birds
and immediately abandoned my planned blog post about walking my dog.

I’m sure Zoey won’t mind.


Wildebeest migration

On Saturday, Wildebeest drove for six hours to come home and see his brother before Zebu leaves for ten months in Sweden. (In the time-honored tradition of all young adults, Wildebeest brought his dirty laundry with him.)

Zoey keeping watch on the clothes hamper and work shirts.

Zoey keeping watch on Wildebeest’s hamper and work shirts.

A few minutes ago Wildebeest hugged us all goodbye, loaded up his clean and folded laundry, and headed back home. He’s leaving one home for another.

I’m hyper-aware that whenever I refer to this, the childhood home we made for our sons, as HOME, I run the risk of minimizing the lives our children are creating for themselves. But I also want them to know they are always welcome here and will always have a home with Zippy and me. This is their home. We are their home. So I use “home” to refer to here and there, wherever there may be.

Wildebeest is currently on the road, migrating back to the life he’s chosen for himself. I miss him already, but will see him the next time he comes home.

Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.
~  Matsuo Basho


Do unto others

Yesterday I posted some photos of myself along with a few words about my uneasy relationship with cameras aimed my way. Less than 24 hours later, I took out my camera and pointed it at Zoey.
Zoey at rest

Zoey doesn’t like her picture taken, either. I know this and yet I sometimes try to coax her into looking my way. She’s a big-hearted dog who wants to please me so she usually complies.
Zoey with faraway gaze

But only up to a certain point. Then she lets me know I’ll have to settle for blurred images.
Zoey has enough

Oh, my Sweet Zotato. Thank you for not sinking your teeth into the pushy photographer.





Not Everyone Enjoys Loud Noises

Happy Independence Day.
Whoop. Whoop.

This time of year is trauma-inducing for many dogs (including my own) because of the exploding fireworks. It’d be one thing if the fireworks only happened on July 4th. But people in my neighborhood have been shooting off stuff for the last several nights and will continue to do so throughout the week.

Zoey is a nervous wreck.
Zoey on deck

It’s hard witnessing your dog cram herself beneath your bedside table and then shiver in fear. There’s no way to get her to understand some humans’ need for loud noises and flashing colors. If I don’t grasp the concept, she’s not gonna get it, either.

I realize I’m not going to change anyone’s mind about all this. (The other night I waited for a lull in the explosions and then yelled out my window: “It’s July 2nd, people!” A few seconds later, the fireworks recommenced). However, I want to note that there’s another way to exhibit July patriotism. Go to MuckRock and file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to help make our government transparent. Today is the 50th anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act, and that’s definitely something worth celebrating in a non-exploding way!

Friday Five: The New-to-Me Edition

ONE: The right headlight on our 2004 Prius went out and Zippy fixed it with a new bulb (something he’s done four times over the years, thanks to the kindness of people who post YouTube how-to’s).

New bulb in the old car.

New bulb in the old car.







We replaced our garbage disposal splash guard (taking only three trips to the stores to find the correct size), again thanks to the kindness of people sharing DIY knowledge.

My new view from above.

My new view from above.








THREE: One night this week Zippy and I watched WILD, the movie based on the book by Cheryl Strayed, and an image from that film that’s stayed with me is Cheryl writing in her journal and then tearing out the page after it’s filled, and feeding it to the campfire.

WILD movie






FOUR: One of our two old dogs is suddenly walking like a drunken sailor and yesterday the vet told us Coco is (hopefully) suffering from “Old Dog” Vestibular Disease, so she’s now on some medication and we’re hoping she’s soon upright and back to herself.

Coco's got a new tilt to her head.

Coco’s got a new tilt to her head.










FIVE: Last fall Zippy and I dug out the raised bed on our patio that had been destroyed by our two old dogs, and replanted it with new perennials (before adding a barrier fence to keep out Coco and Zoey), and the new plants are poking through.

A new penstemon has joined the garden.

A new penstemon has joined the garden.

When It’s Good to Be Wrong

Yesterday I took Zoey to the vet for a thorough check-up because I was sure there was something seriously wrong with her. I was sure she had a tumor, just as our long-ago Packy had a tumor that made her mid-section feel just as Zoey’s did on Sunday.

I was wrong! Zoey does not have a tumor. Zoey is overweight and may need medication for her blood pressure, but otherwise is doing pretty well for an older gal.

Hooray for being wrong!


Batman, red leaves, cat and dogs 012