Sep 28, 2005

How We Got the White Beast...

Since I wrote a bit about Pim, I suppose it’s time to write about our dog, Zoe. Zoe was originally supposed to be a file cabinet, but a side-trip to the pet store resulted in our coming home with her instead. She was 11 months old and had been brought into the store by people who couldn’t take care of her anymore, so she was in a bit of a bind, being homeless and all. I’d had to put my previous dog Murphy (the greatest dog of all time) to sleep about 8 months earlier, and was starting to feel ready for ‘the next dog,’ so this worked out well, timing-wise. The folks at the pet store pointed out that she was housebroken and crate trained, a big plus since the cat-daddy and I work full-time. My only hangup at the time was that Zoe is a white poodle. I don’t like poodles at all--having one is something I swore I'd never do. They’re stuck-up, neurotic, and high-strung, and their “official” haircuts are the most bizarre things ever. According to the pet store, Zoe is a poodle mix of some sort, and the best guess they could make was a cockapoo…but even the vet looked at her & said “There’s a lot of poodle in there.” Plus she’s white, a dog-color I’ve always associated with spoiled dogs parading around in painted toenails, little outfits, and pink rhinestone collars, drinking only bottled water. I’m more of a running-through-the-woods-together type of dog-mom.

Still, she was fairly mellow there in the cage, and had those sad brown eyes pleading “I need a home!” And surprisingly, the cat-daddy was the one who was all for it. I made sure he was fully informed—this meant he was giving up his dream of a Jack Russell Terrier for a while, as growing up I had cockapoos who lived 13-15 years, and we are currently limited to two pets, and Pim’s not going anywhere any time soon. Blah blah blah, about an hour of debate in the pet store, and suddenly we had a 16-lb. white poodle, the stuffed bunny and blankie she came with, and an 8-lb. bag of puppy food. Another quick stop by the corporate-giant pet store with lower prices, and we had a nifty wire crate and all the other dog paraphernalia to go with it (the file cabinet came several months and a 1000-mile move later). We brought her home, bathed her, and tried to think of another name. I don’t dislike the name “Zoe,” it’s just that it’s so popular for pets and people, I wanted to come up with something more distinct, similar to Pim’s name, which literally came to me in a dream. But we couldn’t think of anything, so Zoe it stayed.

It didn’t take long to figure out why her previous owners couldn’t take care of her. In true poodle fashion, she was a spaz. She did great in her crate, but if you let her out she went tearing through the house and yard, and had no manners whatsoever. She tugged at the leash, jumped up, clawed, and bit. She wasn’t being malicious, she just had no way to structure her excitement other than being in the crate, which told her it was time to sit down and be quiet for a while. And she wasn’t exactly housebroken. She wouldn’t go in her crate, but she would go pretty much anywhere else—in the house (bad dog!), in the yard (good girl!), on the sidewalk (um,). And the grossest of the gross—she has a bit of a penchant for eating cat poop. Ugh.

Murphy, the greatest dog ever, had practically trained herself and was universally endearing and loved by all, so this crazy new dog was a big adjustment for all of us, especially Pim, who wasn’t used to being constantly chased down and rustled with. Zoe was past that early puppy stage, where they pick up training so easily, so we knew it was going to be a lot of work and a more gradual process.

And it has. Over a year later her manners are considerably better, but she still has plenty of progress to make. I’ve half-joked that if we can train her to be a somewhat-civil dog, there may be hope for our future children someday. She hates her halter collar, but it prevents her from tugging on the leash and hurting herself. She’s no longer afraid of every leaf on the ground, only some of them. While she’s escaped my grip several times, she hasn’t run into traffic since this winter, which of course benefits her directly, being that she's still alive. She is definitely mostly-poodle, but I’m learning to be OK with that. Plus, when her hair grows out a little bit, it’s more off-white than pure white, which is just enough to set me at ease about not giving her bottled water. As you can see from the pic however, we are not above dressing her in little outfits, especially in the winter. As for the painted nails, stay tuned...after finding myself with a white poodle, among the several other things I swore I'd never do, there isn't much I can completely rule out anymore.

And not to get all mushy, but somewhere along the line we’ve grown to love her. She is such a sweet dog. When she’s not trying to hump babies & small children, she’ll let them grab all over her without a care (with our up-close supervision--duh!). At night she curls up with us in bed—if it’s warm she’s at our feet, if it’s cold, we use her as our Personal Heating Unit (Pim functions well as a PHU also). She very considerately cleans out our ears and noses for us (some of you are grossed-out; others understand), and sometimes nibbles our toes, which is so warped, but trust me, you’d find it at least tickly, if not oddly enjoyable.

That’s the history of Zoe in a nutshell. More to come on both pets, I’m sure...

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