Today was a Red Letter Day for Miss Zoe. She turned 2 in January and has always been the tiniest creature in the house. All the 2-legged and 4-legged family treat her with kid gloves, cater to her, groom her, carry her, play when she wants to play, snuggle her, love on her, cuddle her, etc. She is our little princess, baby, sweetheart and precious one. Since she’s always been the special one, she’s always been treated in a special way.
Zoe came to us with her sister, Keira, 2 years ago from Houston. Zoe weighed just .8 pounds when we first saw her. She had an infected eye, respiratory issues and sick skin; we just hoped we’d get her to the vet in time. We got her Sunday morning; she was at the vet Monday. She is/was somewhat deformed but you have to really look to see it. Her eyes aren’t even and one is smaller than the other. Her back legs are very crooked and her stance is timid and a little shaky. But the most noticeable part is that her mental state is altered. She’s always been “backward” or “slow” compared to other canines. She developed very slowly and has taken 2 entire years to get to where most puppies are at about 8 weeks. She’s just now learning to play. She doesn’t bark; she screeches. She’s very shy until she gets her feet on the ground and then she just explodes in happiness and excitement (which is normal). But she does this to extreme. At first we were afraid she’d die but after treating an eye infection, skin infection, and mange, we thought maybe everything would be okay for her. Keira got adopted but before she left I had to separate them in their crates because she would beat up on Zoe all the time and Zoe would cower in the corner in terror. Not in my house! So these 2 tiny white girls went into completely different crates while they gained enough strength and size to get out into the real pack. I was happy when Keira got adopted because my tiny Zoe could finally have freedom from her sister’s abuse.
And Zoe has blossomed even if it has been at a snail’s pace. Of course, after a few months of getting her and getting Keira adopted, Zoe began to put on a little bit of weight. She wasn’t quite so frail and not so frightened of everything around her. All the dogs deferred to her. Fancy and Mimi groom her and keep her spic and span. Bandit is the best, most-protective big brother any tiny girl could ask for, and she is welcome in his big crate any time. One of the first things she learned (on her own, I might add) was when we commanded, “Crates!”, she would immediately run into Bandit’s crate with him, turn, sit and watch for the next command. It was soooooooo cute!!
But she still never barked or made any sound except a fearful cry occasionally. She shivered a lot (more than Chihuahuas normally do) and didn’t act in any way as boisterous as most of our pack. She would go along with them in a passive manner but not really have her whole heart into it. Then, Diego came into our lives. Diego is a spitfire. He never meets a stranger, will play with any dog or human no matter what size, weight or how loud they are. He doesn’t know the word “intimidation”. He loves to chase a ball, play-fight and bite your fingers until you cry Uncle, run (and run and run…), bark at the dogs next door (on both sides) and run the fences, explore the neighborhood if you’re so careless to let him out the front door, and play-bite on Bandit while he balances on his little hind legs or any other way he can play with Bandit (Bandit is the pack’s “toy” and loves every minute of it). Diego weighs barely 5 pounds and all of them are packed with dynamite, but the most awesome thing that Diego has done in the past year is to bring Zoe to life.
Diego standing on the drain board
At first, Diego’s rambunctiousness was a little frightening; we didn’t know if he was mean or just playful. Thankfully it was pure happy play and he would try to get Zoe to play with him but she would plant her feet and wait for him to tire of taunting her and then she’d find a crate and hibernate. Of course, it never slowed Diego down; he’d just find someone else who’d play and he’d be off and running again. But, after time, Zoe began to understand that Diego wasn’t trying to hurt her like her sister had; he just wanted to be her friend and wanted her to play back. She began to run the fence with him and really enjoy the outdoors.
Then came the day when Zoe found her voice! She doesn’t bark. She doesn’t growl. She screeches at the top of her lungs; no other volume is good enough for our girl. She has become the “Lindsey household alarm system”; we don’t need ADT anymore! When Zoe hears anything whether it’s someone at the door, a bird fluttering in the backyard, one of the neighborhood dogs barking, the mailman, the doorbell or a knock, or any other tiny sound, she lets go a delightfully ear-splitting screech in Zoe-volume that will just about shatter glass. She has learned to get up and down most of the Chihuahua-oriented steps (to gain access to the couch and loveseat) and just this week is learning to get all the way to the top of the stairway to the ottoman in the office, which is 3 1/2 steps, without help and without begging to be picked up in a pathetically sad cry that is loud enough to wake Ronnie at night.
Since I’ve begun to feel better lately I have also begun to take individual dogs for a ride in the car again. Most of them have been to the vet for their annual visits and some, mostly the older dogs, go regularly to Sonic or Starbucks, or maybe to the pet store. Today Ronnie went back to work after his weekend off and it was back to errands and chores for me. I went to a couple of places, came home and started some Spring cleaning then took some clothing for donating to the car to drop off.
Last year we bought a canine auto booster seat which fits securely on the passenger seat of the car and allows the little dogs to sit and look out the window during our travels. There is a clasp inside the seat that attaches to the dog’s harness so there are no accidental attempts to escape that may injure them and result in an automobile accident when I tried to save them. We’d been talking about getting Zoe out for a ride since it’d been a while since we’d tried with her. Her former reaction was extreme fear and we had to hold her the entire outing. Today was different. I put on her tiny pink harness which is the same one she’s worn her whole life; I didn’t even have to let out the straps….she’s still small enough to fit it perfectly. I attached a pink leash to her pink harness and off to the car we went. I placed her in the booster seat and started the car, watching her from the corner of my eye the whole time so I could catch her when she jumped back out (I totally expected her to panic). Her reaction? She sat down and looked at me. I smiled at her, said nothing and drove away from the house. By the time we got to the nearest red light Zoe was laying down in the booster seat not frightened, not shivering, not begging to be let out or to be held. When she’d notice me looking at her she’d crane her neck and look at me with a puzzled look on her face. If I spoke to her she’d make a squeak back but was just fine to sit in her seat. We traveled about 5 miles from home and I stopped at the donation box and opened my door. Then she squealed in alarm and got really tall in the seat. I told her I’d be right back and she sat down and watched. I got back in the car and drove away. Zoe was fine. I took her to Sonic and ordered her a child’s size cheeseburger and fed her the meat off of it. She ate every bit and a few specks of the cheese. I rolled her window down and her eyes got big. She found the sounds and smells of the drive-in. She loooooooked and loooooooked, put her little head back and her nose in the air and smellllllled all the smells…just like every dog in the world would!
I was so proud of her! She’s become a little dog, not a little “special” dog, but a little sweet dog all of her own. I don’t know if she will always have this reaction to rides in the future but I do know there will be lots more rides in her future!
And just of late she has started playing. She will bite at my fingers like Diego does and has learned to run and jump at Diego and then run away. He chases her back and the game is on! She makes little happy sounds and does her squealing sound which has become quite the ordinary background noise in our house now. The other dogs may bark or even howl but they don’t fault Zoe on her own special sound. She is fine by them any way she wants…and fine by us, too.