Okay, so my back is aching and I’ve had a fairly long day at work rushing out something only to find that my editor didn’t really need it that urgently. Hmmph.
So I really shouldn’t be plonking myself in front of a computer screen and risk my back becoming more painful in the process, but I did promise to write a blog post a day, didn’t I?
Well, for today, I’d like to write about the family dog, Zoe.
I call her the “family dog” and not “my dog”, because technically she belongs to my parents. And also, I don’t live under the same roof with her anymore ever since I got married last July and moved out to live with my husband (as all wedded couples must do, or should, if they haven’t yet done so).
I miss having a furball scampering about at my heels every day, having gotten used to experiencing that every day for a good number of years ever since my family had its first dog ever: Hans. (Who was also a German Shepherd, but died suddenly and tragically from stomach bloat – a story long and significant enough for another day’s post, so wait for it ;)).
Anyway, I shall not steal the limelight away from Zoe too much. She deserves a post all to herself. So back to her tale.
I first laid eyes on Zoe in January 2011. Some friend of my Mum’s had told her that there was a female German Shepherd that needed adopting.
Now, what you must understand is that this happens almost ALL the time when it comes to my Mum. Somehow or rather, a lot of her friends seem to think that she would make the perfect dog owner for just about any dog out there in need of a home. We’ve heard it so many times, and there have been all sorts of dogs.
But most of the time, it’s just that. A piece of news. Nothing more happens for the family beyond hearing about it and then no real action is taken.
However, when it came to the case of Zoe, my parents sat up a little more and took notice.
Perhaps it was because she too was a German Shepherd like Hans. And probably also because my parents realised that Hans was getting on in years (not that he was all that old at that time, but nevertheless, they had wanted him to have a companion doggie friend at home all the while, and they figured they should finally get him one).
So, anyway, the story goes that we all decided to go have a look at this poor pup that needed adopting. Turns out she wasn’t that little (German Shepherds grow rather big just within the first year of their lives or less). But somehow, she managed to successfully find a place in our hearts.
At least, she definitely had my sympathies. Which was partly because, I guess, we were told the story of how Zoe would get bullied by two other dogs that also lived in the same house as she did. Apparently, even this owner she was with wasn’t actually her first. There had been another before that.
Hearing such a story must have stirred compassionate feelings in me, because my Mum reminds me to this day that I was one of the proponents championing the cause to adopt Zoe.
Well, the long and short of it was that we did choose to take Zoe home with us. And we gained ownership of her completely for free.
Adapting at home
Unlike our first dog, Hans, Zoe didn’t have a certificate to show that she was a purebred. We also didn’t know her birthday, hence couldn’t properly celebrate it on a specific date the way we did for Hans.
This lil’ pup was also more feisty compared to good ol’ Hans. She was more often than not bursting full of energy, and always looking to be up to some kind of mischief or another.
Thankfully though, Hans (who was still alive at that time) accepted her into our family home with open paws.
Zoe would often nip at his legs in an attempt to get him to chase her or play with her, and this actually hurt him most of the time. But he took it all in stride and was often really forgiving of this young rascal of a pup.
In their own quirky ways, both Hans and Zoe showed that they loved each other.
However, Zoe initially would promptly run away from Hans each time he started to get a little horny. That is, until we finally decided to spay her.
Hans also showed Zoe the ropes a lot around the house. She was a bright pup, and she learned really quickly from her older brother. Whenever they both went for walks in the park behind the house, she would keep looking around to make sure that her brother Hans was never too far from her.
In fact, she was always looking out to make sure that every family member was in their place and that no one was missing. If a few of us were to accompany the dogs for their walk, Zoe would often stop to turn back or look around every now and then to check that we were all there and following along in the same trail.
Zoe is generally a hearty eater, although while Hans was still alive, she often liked to sniff about at what he was having and we figured she was actually comparing what they both got and sizing things up.
She eventually became a much fussier eater, but I think that’s just because my Mum almost always spoils her and feeds her with all sorts of treats; some of which being little chunks of the food that we humans can actually eat for ourselves.
Zoe is also quite easily frightened by sudden sounds or movements and displays a certain degree of uneasiness whenever men come over to our home. We never really knew why, but we thought it might be possible that she had been abused by a man before.
She would often bark in a very intimidating manner towards any male visitors and has even done so to Deric in the days when he was still my boyfriend and not yet my husband.
Whenever she feels threatened, Zoe will hastily run into her doggie cage where we had first placed her in when she first came home with us. It’s kind of a cute habit, but then you’d have to rack your brain about how to get her out again if the need were to somehow arise.
Fur better or fur worse
Anyway, in general, she is a really affectionate and lovable dog. We have always believed she could have been a great mother, had she not been spayed.
(But on the other hand, we’re also glad we spayed her because it saved her the added stress when mingling with Hans. Plus, after being spayed, it was discovered she had some kind of cyst in her womb, so it’s just as well we did spay her anyway).
When we first had her, Zoe didn’t even know how to play, not even with any of the doggie toys that we gave her. She knew, however, that those toys belonged to her, and would take them and hoard them inside her cage.
Now, she knows how to kick tennis balls around the living room, and occasionally plays tug of war with my Dad or chomps on squeaky toys as she trots around the house with it securely tucked inside her jaw.
She also knows how to give all of the “poor me” look while we are eating our meals, just so she can get some pieces of bone or chewy cartilage or even meat strips or chunks from us.
My parents have taught her several simple commands like “stay”, “sit”, “down” and “shake hands”, and she usually obeys. (Of course, the chances are higher when you have a treat in hand).
Zoe has her favourite corners in the home, and usually likes the spot between the wall and the sofa where she can conveniently stick her head underneath the sofa and remain inaccessible to the rest of the world… until I come along and grab her head and smother it, that is. Haha.
There’s really nothing quite like giving a furry family friend like Zoe a hug.
I wish I could see her every day, but usually it’s only two or three times a week whenever Deric and I go over to my parent’s place to join them for dinner.
We also have a pet as large as Zoe in our condo because well… it is a condo. Sharing the building with so many other people (especially some who regard dogs as unclean and against their religious beliefts) makes it virtually impossible. In addition, I believe it’s against the condo’s rules anyway.
But someday, perhaps, Deric and I will have a dog of our own. For now, though, I will be content with the occasional hugs and pats I can give Zoe. She is just as much a family member as the rest of us are.