April is a month of birthdays at my home – mine, Tonks, and Zoe’s all come around in this month. Zoe kicks things off, she turned 2 years old this year. What a ride! She’s hardly recognisable from the crazy puppy who drove me to despair. While she’s still bright and bouncy and loves people, she’s happy to chill on the couch while you work and sleeps inside in her crate at night with a minimum of fuss. No more chewed furniture! She’s pretty cruisy and easy going.
I was reading a book about shamanism recently which suggested that animals teach us things about life. I thought about what I’d learned from having Zoe in my life. It’s been a tough run at times. I was so overwhelmed by her and how much exercise she needed (I live in a unit) that twice I made concerted efforts to find a different good home for her. At one stage I was a mess of guilt and frustration, constantly yelling at a dog who was shredding my house, stressing my guests, and on one occasion, raced over my foot and broke my toe! I got in a behavioural consultant for help, which was a huge, huge support, Rose and I knuckled down and spent Saturday mornings at dog training, and we put a lot of effort into environmental enrichment and a better relationship. I was thinking that the thing I guess I’ve had to learn with Zoe is how to see the Zoe who is in front of me. When I took home a gorgeous little pup from the shelter I was single and lonely, looking for protection at home, looking for companionship, and after nursing Charlie for months, looking for a really healthy, strong dog. I got that dog, for sure. But as she grew up a little and my life circumstances changed with a new job and a new relationship meaning I was away from home a lot more than I had been, I found myself with a bored and lonely half puppy in full destruction mode. It was a big shift! She destroyed 2 couches, a lot of clothes and sheets, stole items from around the house (books, nail polish, socks) and buried them in the backyard, chased my cats… Some days I hated her. As she’s grown older and I’ve learned a lot and changed a lot of what I was doing, a different Zoe again has emerged. This Zoe is still not absolutely content, she’s a bit lonely and wishes she had more walks and more room to play. But she’s boisterous rather than destructive, very affectionate and protective. Sometimes it’s hard to see this Zoe because the memories of the crazy, overwhelming puppy get in the way. But she’s right here in front of me, cuddling on the couch, nudging me to let me know she needs to go to the toilet, playing with Tonks, or watching the garden through the window. It’s a valuable lesson, to see what’s in front of me.
So, for Zoe’s birthday, she got a new chew toy which she adores, a lot of cuddles and love, and some food treats. She had a pretty good day. I love her to bits! 🙂