Sunday, June 10, 2012

My puppy, Zoey

When I was a little girl I was afraid of dogs. I remember lots of kids my age being afraid of dogs, probably because when we were little there were dogs that were bigger than us, and they had teeth and barked and that is just terrifying.

When I was in kindergarten, my brother's dog Chief, came to live with us for 6 months. Chief was a black Chow Chow, which some consider to be a meaner dog. It's true, Chief did not like a lot of people, particularly men, but he liked me. He wasn't that much smaller than me at the time, but he was the most gentle with me than with anyone else. I got over my fear of dogs because of Chief, and I remember the day my brother came to take him back as being one of the saddest days for me. But as much as I knew Chief loved me, I knew he loved my brother more.

Fastforward a couple of years: I'm playing in the attic of my house with some friends from down the street. I hear my parents calling me to come downstairs. But before I even reach the top of the stairs to go down, a small black dog is already halfway up the stairs greeting me. She was so fast running up those stairs! She quickly smelled me, my friends, jumped around a bit, and then raced back downstairs. I followed the puppy to see who was visiting and who she belonged to, but only my parents were downstairs. As it turned out, this puppy had been staying with our neighbors daughter who thought she might like to keep her. But she had already decided that she was not going to be able to keep the puppy. She was supposed to have the puppy for one more night before she returned her, but my mom suggested that we keep the dog for the night. Unbeknownst to me, my parents had been talking about the possibility of getting a dog. I don't remember if I had ever asked for one, or if it was something my Dad wanted or thought it would be good for us as a family. Either way, the puppy was ours for the night. And what a great night it was. She was just so cheery and happy to be there - racing around everything, she was really quite fast, and jumping around. I loved playing with her. At dinner, all we talked about were names. We made a list of names, and we kept calling her with all the names - of course she responded to all of them. I remember I came up with a name like Tara, or something like it (I was always making up weird names as a kid so who knows what name I really came up with.) I really wanted to name her that obviously forgetful name, but my parents weren't really listening to my suggestion. They seemed to have already decided that her name would be Zoey, after a dog in one of the books my mom read to her students. And, even though I was disappointed I didn't get to name her, that was the night that Zoey enter my life.

Let this be a lesson to all future pet owners with children; If you are keeping a dog for a trial run, never talk about what to name them. Even if the kids don't like the name you picked, don't give the animal any name until you are 100 % sure and ready to keep that animal in the house for forever. This is where my parents made their mistake.

Zoey slept babygated in the kitchen that night. I think she may have barked a bit in the night, but I don't remember. I woke up early to play with her before I went to school. But my parents had seemed to have made the decision overnight that we were not ready to have a puppy in the house. They called our neighbor's daughter to tell her that we were going to give her back. I came home from school and Zoey was still there. I got another hour with her before they came to take her back. I proceeded to cry uncontrollably for the next 24 hours. Well maybe I exaggerate a bit. But I cried so hard and so long that my parents came to another decision: We better get that dog back. Zoey returned two days later and never left after that.

I tried to teach Zoey how to "sit,""come," and "stay." "Sit" was really the only one that stuck. She slept in the kitchen for a few more weeks but eventually she started sleeping anywhere around the house. She could jump really high, and many nights she would sleep with me on my bed. Her favorite place to sleep was under my parents bed, and her favorite place to sit was on top of the couch by the window where she could watch the people walk by. We were always alerted when someone was walking up our sidewalk. Zoey would bark twice and then jumped of the couch, and run to the front door to greet the person. At first glance, you'd think she would make un excellent guard dog, until two seconds after meeting her you realized she loved everyone! Zoey didn't have a tail, but a stump, and when she was excited she would try to wag her stump, but it just looked like a booty dance. You always knew she was happy to see you. She also had no fear of any other dog. I'd be walking her to the park and another dog and their owner would be walking towards us. And Zoey would be ready to attack, despite the fact that the other dog was three times her size; she was fearless.

Zoey saved my life once. Sort of. I was probably about 9 or 10 and was walking her to the park and back home like I usually did. There was a baseball game going on down the street and there were a lot of people there. We walked around the game and avoided the people and started our way back home by the creek. All of a sudden, three other dogs surrounded me and Zoey, all three of them without owners and not looking very friendly. The were barking, jumping and snapping at us and there was no one around to help. Zoey may have been fearless sometimes, but I was so glad she wasn't fighting back because those dogs would have killed her. We just kind of stood there together waiting for help or worse. I had no idea what to do because they wouldn't let us move. Somehow, and I have no idea how, Zoey managed to get out of her collar, which was attached to the leash I had in my hand, and she bolted away. Now these dogs could have ripped us to shreads but the one thing Zoey had on her side, and she probably knew it, was speed. When you are being attacked by 3 dogs and your own dog starts running away, it's terrifying because you go from being attacked by 3 dogs to possible loosing your own. But when Zoey ran away, the other 3 dogs followed and I ran after Zoey, not knowing where she would go. She was so fast that the two bigger dogs gave up and turned back to wherever they came from. But Zoey still had one dog on her tail and me way far behind her. At this point I knew where Zoey was going. She was running home. She had gotten the other dogs away from me, but we still hadn't lost the 3rd dog. Luckily, at this exact moment, Nature called. While the 3rd dog stopped to lift his leg, Zoey kept running- she never looked back in fact -and I jumped over the 3rd dog and kept running home. I met Zoey at our front porch let ourselves in and shut the door before the 3rd dog could get inside where I proceed to cry in my mother's lap for the next hour. I had been so scared and then on top of it I thought that Zoey was running away. But no she was actually rescuing us. I don't think Zoey ever got enough praise or reward for that day. I never forgot it.

I had a hard time falling asleep when I was a kid. When I was younger one of my parents had to lay in bed with me until I fell asleep. Even though by the time I was 10 they had stopped doing that, I still hated going to bed. What I hated most about it was that it took me so long to fall asleep and then I was always unnerved at knowing I was the only one awake in the house. These nights when I couldn't go to sleep was when Zoey was my best companion. She would be on the bed with me. As long as she was awake, I was comforted in knowing that I wasn't the only one not asleep. Sometimes I would sing Zoey a lullaby and help her go to sleep. Unfortunately for her, a little while after I had rocked her a sleep I would wake her up because I didn't want to be the only one awake again. I think Zoey eventually figured this out about me because somewhere along the way she stopped sleeping on my bed. And always went under my parents bed.

People always thought Zoey was fat. It's only partly true because Dad did feed her scraps from the table. He'd get so angry when she begged but he would always give her something. In fact, Dad would sometimes get angry with me when I didn't want to give Zoey my leftovers... it was an on going thing. But Zoey wasn't always fat. In fact, she just had a lot of hair. She always looked so pretty when she came back from being groomed, and she seemed much less hot.

Dad always said that Zoey was my dog, and I would in fact say that as well. But the truth was that Zoey was Dad's dog. No one knew Zoey better than Dad. I like to pretend that I did sometimes, and maybe sometimes I did, but really it was Dad. Zoey would follow Dad to the ends of the earth, and she minded him a heck of a lot more than she did anybody else. I remember once asking what we would do if our house caught on fire. It was decided that Mom would get me out and Dad would get Zoey out. I remember being really comforted by this, because it was like we had a buddy system, but also because I knew Zoey would listen to Dad if she was scared. Zoey never listened to Mom. I think Zoey was probably a bit jealous of Mom. I think that's why Zoey was always in Mom's way. In the kitchen, in the bedroom -Zoey wanted to be like Mom so she'd get more attention from Dad. She was a smart puppy.

When Zoey got older she became less friendly. She still liked just about everyone she met, she just didn't like to be disturbed. She became a stubborn old (for lack of a better term) bitch. If she didn't like what Dad fed her for dinner, she wouldn't eat until she got what she wanted. Dad would get so angry at her, but eventually he'd give her what she wanted, and she knew that. Dad always caved when it came to Zoey. Even though she couldn't hear anymore and she couldn't see anymore, she could smell, I knew she knew it was me when I would pet her and love on her. She would always wag her tail when I came home from school because she knew I was home.

I knew when I moved to St. Louis that there wasn't a very good chance I would be seeing Zoey again. Schnauzers usually don't live past 15 years and Zoey was 16 and a half. She hadn't been doing well, and we had already had a few close calls. I did get to talk to her on Skype about a month ago. She had no idea what was going on. She couldn't see me, hear me, and because I was on a computer screen she couldn't smell me so she just walked away, but I was so happy to see her. I always thought I would prefer to not be home when Zoey died, and I guess I do. I don't have to think about it as much and I am very grateful for all the distractions I have had this week to keep my mind off of her and home. But I'm still really sad because well, saying goodbye to your first dog, is hard. It's like saying goodbye to your childhood officially. I'm so glad that I cried myself to sleep that night back in 1996 and I'm so glad that my Dad caved on everything that related to Zoey because otherwise I wouldn't have had grown up with her. Maybe there would've been another dog at some point, but I'm so glad it was her. She was a stubborn, kind, protective, and happy companion. No other dog could ever live up.

Monday, June 4, 2012

2 months later, in STL

I can't believe I've been living in St. Louis for 11 weeks. I feel bad for not posting much, but at first there wasn't much to share, and then there was so much to share but I couldn't find the time to share it.

We finally opened our first show of the season and it is a beautiful show. After many weeks of wanting to burn the costumes because I was tired of looking at them, all ill feelings towards the costumes went away - as it most always does after seeing them onstage with the sets and lights. Even though the show isn't my favorite show, it cannot be denied that everyone involved in the production is extremely talented.

I've explored many parts of St. Louis on my days off. I've been to the arch twice, and both times were a story in of themselves. I've been to the St. Louis Zoo, The City Museum, many MANY interesting bars and restaurants, and shopped - A LOT, and found a really awesome pool. To say that I like living in St. Louis is an understatement. But the city is even better getting to explore it with new friends. There are now 17 people living in housing. Yes, I have 16 roommates. Finding quiet, alone time is impossible. Luckily I like everyone I live with, and we all just want to have a good time together.

As far as my 24 things to do when I'm 24 list, here's an update on all the other things I have done.

4. Go to a wacky museum - The City Museum is by far the strangest "museum" you could ever imagine. And it was so much fun!
8. Join a gym - I did join the Y here because we got in free. I have not yet however gone to exercise, but it wasn't on my list that I actually had to exercise - just had to join ;)
9. Save money - even though this is an ongoing accomplishment, I have started couponing and can proudly say that my last paycheck went straight into savings.
17. Cook dinner for friends - it hasn't happened much, but I have made some quesadillas for my roommates when they are around. :)
23. Save my receipts - every receipt I've gotten so far this summer I have saved. Many can be thrown away now, but it has come in handy when I have gone to return my impulse buys - since I am trying to save money.
24. Skype with friends - it's only been mom and Kristen who've seen me on Skype, but I realized, I don't know a lot of people on skype. So, help a sister out and find me on Skype!

There is one more item on my list that I have accomplished, although announcing it is a bit premature, it's an announcement that deserves its own post - which will hopefully happen again much sooner than my last post.

I miss all my family and friends back in Eastern Time Zone. 11 weeks is a long time to be away. It's hard to believe I've been in St. Louis almost as long as I was in WV, and I'm going to be away even longer than that. Luckily, I will have some visitors soon, and (keeping my fingers crossed) I'm going to be visiting VA next month for a wedding.

The next show is The Sound of Music, which of course I will enjoy every moment of, because this show is the reason I do what I do. All in all, I'm having a great time here and wanted to share with everyone that I am having a fantastic summer thus far!