It is amazing to witness the capacity of dogs to overcome their difficult circumstances once they come into rescue. For the most part, dogs are very resilient animals. However, some dogs no matter how long they are in rescue they just never recover to any great degree. This post is not about a dog like this. Instead I am going to profile our Zoe who has managed to change so profoundly from the day she arrived.

Zoe arrived in September of 2009. A former puppy mill breeding female from northern BC, she had been rescued by Turtle Gardens. When Zoe arrived she was a mess. She was not toilet-trained and really had no interest in going outside. In the early days she would come into the living room and pee on the floor right in front of us. We eventually solved the toilet training problem through food. Zoe is highly food motivated so getting treats when she actually goes outside has been very effective.

Zoe has gone far beyond just learning to do her business outside. She has truly become the master of her own universe… and us. Here are some highlights of how self-actualized Zoe has become:

  • As I pointed out in this post, Zoe always wants what I am eating. It does not matter if she likes it. The other day she was clawing at my leg[1] for a piece of my pancake. I doubted she wanted it but I gave in anyway. I offered her a piece and it hit the floor and she walked away from it. She went to the other side of my chair and repeated. Now I had 2 pieces of pancake on the floor.
  • Zoe hates to get her feet wet. In the rain,[2] it takes minutes some days to get her to off the step and pee. Wash, rinse, repeat 5 times a day!
  • If Zoe is somewhere she doesn’t want to be she can bark incessantly. We separate the dogs to eat. Zoe tends to eat in Deb’s office as she will take other dog’s food. As soon as she thinks she is done[3] she begins to bark. She will continue to bark until someone gets up and lets her out. Most of the time when we go to let her out she tries to leave with whatever food she hasn’t eaten yet. It’s not that she wants to eat it; she wants to prevent others from eating it. What this sets up is a growl and snarl fest wherever Zoe decides to take her food.
  • Closely related to the above, Zoe has no bite inhibition. Trying to get food from her means literally putting your intact skin into jeopardy.[4]

Zoe has become our little princess. This is typical of the breed – they really take their royal origins seriously. She has a pillow on her bed or she stretches out on the Newfoundland’s bed. I saw her there this morning snoozing on her back in the middle of the giant bed. She cracks me up in the morning as she races down the stairs with her tail going in circles and her back legs flying out behind her. It is really a surprise to see her do this as she is at least 12 years old.

We adore this dog. She has recently been diagnosed with pulmonary issues and will need to be on Lasix for the rest of her life. We now have to get through a blood test and a dental. The thought of losing this amazing little dog is absolutely heartbreaking and we are not ready yet. Last week gave us a big scare!


[1] Which really, really hurts.

[2] And let’s face it, it rains a lot here.

[3] She may be done but really she thinks she might be missing better food some place else.

[4] We believe Zoe was a starved dog when she was having puppies. She has all the hallmarks.

One thought on “Princess Zoesephine

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