Thursday, August 25, 2011

Zoe and Running

Running was a large part of Zoe's life. She would run outside after squirrels and rabbits. She would chase Harley's. If we went for a walk, she would run for the majority of it.

If dog could have, she would have run a marathon - and won.

Part of the reason she came into my life was because she was a runner. More than that, puppy was an escape artist. Aside from breaking out of cages, she could also bolt from a house like a streak of lightening. Bamm. Dog was out the door and down the street and out of sight. In an instant she would duck into someone's back yard to investigate new smells like a neighbor barbequing chicken.

Puppy made friends easily and could run circles around a greyhound. Once when she darted out the door, my entire family took off after her through the neighborhood. There was no catching her. She would only come back when she was good and ready. Or if you had ham. She did love ham.

Often on our walks people would ask if I was walking Zoe or if she was walking me.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

More Rice Cake Photos

I found a series of photos I took when Zoe was ripping apart my decoration to get to the rice cake. Who could be angry with such a sweet dog?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rice Cake Treat

Rice cakes never moved to fast in my kitchen. I always had a package, usually the unsalted brown rice kind just in case I got a case of the, "I'm so hungry I could eat liver." Lucky for me that didn't happen often.

Since I had a couple packages of the styrofoam-like food and puppy was constantly hungry, I decided to give her rice cakes as a treat. It worked. She loved them. Zoe devoured the pressed grain substance in a minute, maybe less, licking her chops afterward. Hmmm. It was just pressed rice and she was happy. I found a healthy snack for the dog. After all, didn't some dog foods contain rice. I think so.

Puppy wouldn't get the rice cake every day - it was a special treat like ice cream, if I would have given her ice cream.

I made small craft consisting of an empty plastic ice cream cup covered in tissue paper with a stick and a tissue paper flower attached when I realized I didn't have any foam to keep the flower upright in the small container. What to do? Rice cakes! Rice cakes were akin to styrofoam in my mind. I broke a few pieces and shoved them into the ice cream container. Then I stuck the flower in the center and wrapped the bottom with tissue paper and secured the decoration with rafia, a tough fibrous substance. It was adorable. I made several of the flowers and put them downstairs for an event I was planning. The flowers sat on top of an 18 gallon plastic tub - safe and secure. I left Zoe to watch the house as I went to gather more items for the event from the store.

When I returned, about two hours later, there was light green tissue paper strewn about on the family room floor. Then I found the tissue paper flower and next to it the empty plastic ice cream cup. No rice cake in sight.

The little stinker had gone down the basement, chosen a flower and brought it back upstairs to devour its contents - the flavorful rice cake. The "styrofoam" in my project.

Zoe did this not once but several times. She would find the rice cake in the flower decoration no matter where I placed it. I can only think that she thought it was a food puzzle.

I purchased a plastic toy and inserted kibble inside that dog could knock about and it would release a treat the more it was bantered around. Who knew that my flower decoration was in a reality a food puzzle.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Puppy and Car Rides

Puppy was not good when it came to riding in a car or any vehicle for that matter. When I brought her home initially, she tossed her cookies. It was less than 10 miles from my house.

Since I drove almost everywhere and dog wanted to be with me, I had some training to do. I started out small. First, I put Zoe in the car when I was scrapinged the frost off the windows. She would jump around the interior and kept a watchful eye over me at all times from her warm vantage point.

Once puppy mastered being in the vehicle, I took Zoe with me to get a newspaper - a short jaunt of half a mile to the store. It was dicey at first, but dog held onto her breakfast and we made it home.

After Zoe graduated the short trip, we ventured into a five mile ride to the park. Park was fun and a welcome reward for tossing about in the car. And she got to see Harleys - her favorite! Arf, arf, arf.

The five mile trip gradually turned into a half hour ride, then an hour's ride with a break mid-way.

Then it finally happened. Dog and I went on a six hour road trip. She would jump from the back seat into the front checking the scenery and changing the radio station. Back into the rear seat she would go for a nap. Up again when she hear a motorcycle. And so it continued.

Seat belts were useless for dog. I bought one once she was acclimated to riding in cars and she got her nail caught in the strap on I-75. Zoe screamed from the backseat as I drove 75 miles an hour. Nothing says, "pull over now and check on your dog," like an animal in pain. The seatbelt went back to the store and puppy became a happier passenger.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Zoe's Favorite Foods

Like any dog, Zoe had favorite foods. Foods that she would become the perfect dog just so she could eat. She would heel, sit, lay down, stay all for food. Not talking meat, although puppy did enjoy a good piece of chicken or hamburger. Puppy liked vegetables.

Mostly the cruciferous kind, you know, broccoli, cauliflower and her all time fav, cabbage. Zoe would follow me anywhere for a cabbage leaf. While we might not notice it, cabbage, and their cousins, has a slightly sweet taste. They also kept dog very regular and my house fragrant.

The up side was Zoe had the heart and lungs of a four year old pup a couple months before she passed away. Her legs gave out and her heart soon developed a murmur. But she will always be my little cabbage.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Little Dogs

Little dogs were an issue for puppy. In some respects she deferred to a little dog like my sister's dachshund, Gretchen.

Gretchen was the queen in Zoe's eyes. Gretchen took the lead in hunting, food, affection from humans - she was the alpha. The little dachshund even taught my dog to bark. Thanks, Gretchen.

Then there were the little dachshunds and rat terrier that lived behind my dog. These animals were stupid in puppy's eyes. Zoe was the alpha.

The little dogs would run outside in the winter and bark. Bark at everything. Zoe would ask to go out and she would saunter over to the fence and arf a few times as if to say, "Shush your pie hole, there's nothing out here." The little dogs would stand off and continue to bark and then beg to go inside.

Then it began to snow. I must preface this in saying the backyard of the little dogs was dramatically cut in half by the presence of an in-ground pool. The owners placed a hard top pool cover in the winter months that supposedly held the weight of people and dogs without having to secure the cover. Zoe didn't believe this.

After a snow storm that dropped 8-12 inches of the white stuff, the little dogs decided to leave their house and bark. They would stand in the middle of the pool cover on top a foot of snow. Heavy, wet snow. Puppy saw it as her duty to tell the little dogs they were in danger. Out she went through the compact snow to the edge of the yard. "Arf, arf, arf, arf, arf," which translated into, "Hey you stupid little dogs, get off the pool cover. Stupid dogs, get off the pool cover." Then, Zoe would turn tail and come back in the warm house.

Her job was complete. She warned the little dogs, but would they listen? No.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lick Guitar Strings

You read the title correctly. When I would play the guitar, Zoe would come up to me and lick the guitar strings. That's all fine and good for acoustic, it just made me nervous when I played the electric.

Puppy must have wanted to taste the skin that sheds when you go up and down the fret board.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Smoke Alarm

I always wondered if Zoe was trained as a service dog. She helped me in so many ways.

One thing puppy did in particular was notify me whenever something was burning or boiling on the stove. I had a tendency to start cooking and then start another project that took me away from the kitchen. You know the old adage, "A watched pot never boils." I knew that was true and I could count on a well done meal every time.

If I wasn't watching the food, dog was. She kept an eagle eye on anything that came into the kitchen. The magic white box with cold food was something she was keenly interested in and the stove and microwave came in a close second and third.

If I wanted Zoe to come into the house, I didn't have to whistle, I just had to set the microwave to beep. A long beep would get her running towards me no matter what puppy was doing outside and that included chasing squirrel.

Many was the time dog came up to me and pestered me until I left the computer and followed her into the kitchen. Once there, I would find my pasta boiling or cookies baked to a golden brown.

When I forgot how in tune Zoe was with food preparation I would learn another of her skills - smoke alarm. There were occasions when I would ignore puppy's insistent nudges and continue with my work. That's when the smoke detector would kick in and begin blaring. When dog heard the familiar blast of noise she would run t the smoke detector and sit in front of it - staring at it. She would not budge until I came and removed it from the wall and opened the windows and doors.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Because puppy was a stray there were things about her that you don't find with most dogs. One of her fears was brooms.

I began sweeping the floor one day and dog ran and hid in the other room. I said, "Zoe, it's just a broom. Come her girl." Ears went back and she came toward me. I had to convince her that this thing with multiple whiskers on a stick was not some evil incarnate. After I cajoled her into the kitchen, she stood at a distance watching, ready to make her escape into the living room.

Then it happened. I began sweeping bits of kibble into a pile. Ooohhh, Zoe loved kibble. Zoe loved food of any kind. Puppy took a few cautious steps toward the dirt in the middle of the floor. Then in a fit a daring she nosed herself into the pile and ate some dry dog food. Dog was hooked.

Zoe stepped into the sweepings spreading them away from the broom. She feared the broom no longer. She had conquered broom.

Puppy Painting

Helping me paint was a favorite pastime for puppy. Whenever I would paint a room or paint a picture, she was there waiting to add her ideas.

Sometimes she would lean against a freshly done wall ever so slightly with her tail or shoulder. The wall would look great and dog would have unusual white markings on her body. Or green markings or whatever color paint I was using for that project.

While painting a picture for my family room, Zoe decided to walk across the white clouds with her little rabbit feet. As if on tippy-toes she sauntered carefree over the clouds I had painted and gave me a kiss on my chin.

I know that dogs licking your chin means they are hungry, but looking back on the painting and what she did seems like puppy was giving me a kiss while she was in heaven.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Wine Cellar

During the dog days of summer, Zoe would dig. I have been given lots of advice as to why she dug in the dirt outside.

One reason was that puppy was hot and wanted to cool off. That would be reasonable if I had the door closed. The door was open for her to wander in as she pleased.

Another explanation was dog was bored. Far from it. I played with her and took her for walks. I even created little games for her and provided a food puzzle. This is a plastic toy that holds food and deposits nibbles when the toy is rotated and batted around.

My theory was Zoe was building a wine cellar. The hole was behind an arborvitae. Each time I filled the hole, puppy redug the trench. Higher and higher the level of soil rose until the evergreen was raised about 4 inches above all its surroundings. She placed the cellar close to the house and behind the bush.

Perhaps Zoe was really a master gardener.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Speaking Her Mind

Vocalization was never a problem for puppy. Even though she was part Basenji and quiet most of the time, she would have moments that seemed like she was talking. Not barking Christmas songs, more like making conversation.

Dog would come up to me while I was reading a newspaper and bump the back of the paper. The two pages spread from one hand to my other hand covering my face. Zoe would bump the paper with her nose as if to say, "pay attention to me." Then she would look out the window and turn back towards me. Puppy would then begin her banter, "mh, ugh, mugh, mugh, ugh, ugh, UUUGHH." No reaction from me meant the vocalization would continue. "UUUGHHmh, ugh, mugh, mugh, ugh, ugh, UUUGHHHHH!"

I never knew what the UUUGGGH was but Zoe was adamant about stating her point of view. Usually I let the dog outside or played with her or took her for a walk when this conversation ensued. It seemed to satisfy her need for constant activity. And she got to chase squirrel.

Zoe also made a variety of noises to express happiness, anger, hunger, boredom, love or like, disappointment and excitement. All manner of squeaks, yodels, barks, yipes and burrrs to express herself and tell you what she thought.

And I have nothing else to add for the moment. I am done or in Zoe speak - Hrrrumf, sigh.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dancing and Marching

I've discussed things Zoe loved. There were few things she wasn't so crazy about other than squirrels and cats.

One of those was marching. Any kind of marching. Marching in place, a marching band, not even sure she liked the month of March. Anytime someone lifted a knee and set it down more than twice, puppy would come running. Barking up a storm, she demanded you stop this foolishness instantly. Dog saw no reason to raise your knee multiple times in a row. Perhaps she had an orthopedic background.

A close second to marching was dancing. If marching brought about mad barks then dancing was a hundred times worse. You would think someone was being attacked the way she reacted. Zoe would place herself between you and whatever was causing this strange movement and begin jumping, placing her front paws on your pelvis in one sweeping motion to knock you to the ground and end this commotion. Boom! Take that was her response. Boom! Puppy would strike again this time running at a furious pace. She didn't aim to hurt you, just stop the dancing. No dancing with the stars for that dog.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Each night, before I went to bed, I would let puppy out to do her job. Aside from relieving herself, she also patrolled the perimeter for anything out of the ordinary. Literally, dog would walk the length and breadth of the yard checking for vermin and any unwanted creatures.

One night she began barking and running diagonally across the yard. From corner to corner Zoe raced, "arf, arf, arf, arf, arf." Suddenly the barking stopped and she began walking toward the house. Mid-step puppy began vocalizing again, "arf, arf, arf, arf, arf," running full speed like a greyhound across the other diagonal. Then she would stop again.

"Zoe!" I called out. "Zoe, get in here". I whistled for the dog and she ran towards me then stopped and started running crisscross again. This prompted me to go outside to bring puppy in, by the collar if necessary. "Come on girl, let's go, come along," I said firmly. It was then I looked up into the night sky and saw the white search lights darting to and fro and realized Zoe was chasing the lights.

Guess she liked chasing lightening bugs and moon beams, too.

Monday, August 1, 2011


Another one of the words puppy knew was, "Police."

Before I explain how I found out her reaction to the word, I should tell you how Zoe rode in my car. She didn't just sit in the back seat or hang her head out an open window, dog had to have her body halfway in the front seat as I drove. It was almost as if she was navigating where we were going. I drove an older car, a Dodge shadow, and the space between the driver's seat and the door was ample. At least ample enough for a 35 pound Basenji to wedge her body as close to me as possible.

Puppy had enough room to place her head down on the arm rest if needed. And this is where I found out another word in her vocabulary.

Driving down the road with Zoe navigating, I spied a cop car. Nervous about having a dog riding shotgun by my shoulder I said, "Police!" Boom! In an instant puppy's body sank to the arm rest and her body was below window level - out of sight, yet close at hand. The patrol car rolled by us. "Ok, all clear," I said. As quickly as she dove down, she sprung up just as fast, ready to tell me where to drive.