09 6 / 2012
I think one of the biggest things that Zoey made me realize that I could be alone and be okay about it. I spent a lot of years being dependent on someone, being afraid to do things on my own. I remember telling Zoey every day, “Don’t ever leave me.”
And there she was, every day, fighting for her life, showing me that she would be there as long as I needed her. I have been driving since I was sixteen, but to be honest, I tried as much as possible never to drive on my own. I always made an excuse, afraid I couldn’t park in certain places, afraid for little things like… Oh, I’ll never drive at night, it’s scary.
The difference was now that I had Zoey. She would hop into the passengers seat, looking at me as if to say, “Hey Ma, where we going? I’m right here, don’t worry!” And I would drive off with my Malamute in the front seat. She would follow me wherever I went, whether I left her off leash. She was there, by my side.
Every day, she waited until I got home, and it hurt me when I had to travel for work – leaving her for long periods of time. She would get sick everytime I left, like she was telling me, “Hey, you asked me to stay and yet, there you are always going places.”
I remember going off to Canada, and flying back because the doctor called me to tell me, “It’s not looking good.” And I took the earliest possible flight home.
I booked that flight, paid all the charges just so I could be there for her. I cried and cried, regretting the whole month that I left her. She thought I wasn’t coming home, I thought in panic. I even called up the vet, speaking to her on the phone like she was my child. And in truth, she was. She was my everything.
That day was one of the most memorable days of my life. Zoey, they described her as being weak and lethargic, lying in her cage with a blank look, her tail just as sullen as she. But, when I arrived, it was midnight… and I knew in my heart she knew I was coming.
When I arrived at the vets office at around 12.30, I ran inside and heard a shrill howl. There was my Zoey, her paws ready to knock me down. And knock me down she did.
It was the first time she lit up. The veterinarians looked at me, astonished. They said she started to howl and whine about fourteen hours prior to me coming… I realized, she knew that my plane had left.
How can you ever say that a dog has no soul? When she knew, not by instinct but by pure love that I was coming home?
It makes me cry to this day thinking about that love she had, how she waited for me, how she depended on me to come home to her, too.
I thought I would never be able to live without her, until one day, I had to.
That was the first night that I told her, “You can go, you can go if you want to.”
And that morning before I left for another work trip, she passed on.
My helper said she saw her run down the stairs, tail wagging, and her bright eyes staring at her that morning.
Zoey still came home. She still wanted to tell me that she was there… that I could in fact live without her. She knew I was ready.
I knew deep down in my heart, as much as it hurt, that she was teaching me how to be alone again.
Even in her death, it brought me a lesson… one that is probably the most amazing one she ever taught me.
She taught me the right way to grieve through positivity, with love… and whether it be a relationship or something more difficult, she taught me that I could move on.
It’ll never be easy – but I always think to myself now… I really didn’t believe I could go on without Zoey… but she didn’t give me a choice, she taught me the lessons, as hard as they were, through example. And her death was more than just losing a life… she still taught me strength.
Zoey, January 3 will always be the day I remember your death, but May 7 will always be the day that I remember you were born. You lived only a year and a half, but each moment that you lived you brought me joy and happiness. You needed to be there for me during that time just so you could teach me how to let go of you. You attached yourself to me as I attached myself to you – so you could leave me.
I don’t know if I can ever really properly describe what she meant to me… except that she filled every crevice of my heart with her love and her joy. She was the positive light in my life… and even when that faded, she taught me that it was everlasting.
So when people ask me, what does love look like to you?
I always answer, “Well, I’d say its grey and white, with beautiful big eyes and a wagging tail. I’d say, it looks a lot like Zoey.”