Dogs. Who would have thought that I could love a dog? Like really love a dog. On any given day of my life, if you asked if I was a dog person, I wouldn’t hesitate to say yes. But I have never been one of those over the top, “my-dog-is-my-life” kind of people. Once I had kids, my view of dogs changed drastically. The dog I had at that time became a dog. And my kids got first priority.
And then, after years of saying I would never get another dog, I met Zoey. Taking my girls to the Humane Society was a weekly ritual that we had been doing for about a year. And I was never tempted. The dogs were cute and it was sad to see them, but I was never compelled to take one home. But the minute I saw Zoey, my heart raced and she made me smile…on the inside. I had to have her. And of course, my kids were thrilled.
Zoey was roughly 9 or 10 when we adopted her. So, going in, we knew that her time with us may not be all that long. We pressed on anyway.
Over the last three and a half years, Zoey made it clear what her role was. She was not here to do the cooking, but she would have no problem eating our dinner before I got the chance to serve it. She was never going to clean the carpets, because then she would have a hard time remembering where her pee spot was. And she would definitely not be participating in a game of fetch if my intention was to throw her favorite toy more than three times.
Her role was simple. It was to love. And in a world full of so much hatred, she is a beautiful reminder that living with love in your heart is a much better way to go through life. Zoey frequently demonstrated her version of love by slapping her paw on my leg, slobbering all over my pants, breathing her horrid dog breath in my face in hopes of getting a lick, or dragging me down the street faster than my legs could carry me. It may not have been the way I would choose to be loved, but it was love all the same.
And I didn’t realize it until today that without giving all that much (in the ways humans deem necessary of other humans), she gave our family everything. She was our constant. And in a few hours, when we say our final goodbyes at the vet’s office, this family’s world is going to change. Maybe not enough for anyone to notice, because to them, she’s just a dog. But to us, she is family.
And though I may not even come close to being the “doggiest” dog person alive, I am and always will be a Zoey person. And as she rests beside me now as I write this, my heart is heavy, but thankful that she showed me how the simplicity of a dog’s love could change my heart forever.