Commitment to Promises

Years ago I made a promise. I promised my Mother-in-law that if anything should happen to her, I would take care of her dog. But like most promises, this was a promise harder to keep than make. Fast forward many years and life’s events have a way of testing your grit and your commitment to promises. This was certainly the case for me.

An Unexpected Addition

Let me step back for a moment. Zoe was an unexpected addition to the family. And she was not the pup we imagined for mom. We thought maybe a maltese or a mini-poodle. Something cuddly, soft and gentle. But the universe had other ideas in mind for mom and for us.

One day in 2007, mom called to ask if it was ok if she brought home a little dog. She was kind enough to check with us, knowing the pup would spend the most time at our place. She sounded excited and we quickly agreed. We learned it was a mixed breed yorkie-chihuahua – a chorkie. And later, we’d learn, this was the complete opposite of the diminutive, content lap dog we had pictured in our mind.

Zoe arrived the next week. She was a tangle of stringy hair and sported an-extra toothy grin thanks to a strong underbite that thrusted her lower canines out. She looked a bit like Don Rickles (the large eyes only added to the affect). Zoe didn’t appreciate pawing hands and certainly had no plans to sit still long enough to qualify as a “lap dog”. She was an active, inquisitive terrier. She loved to play and quickly dominated our dog, at the time 7 years old.

Zoe was a “rescue”. My brother-in-law learned of Zoe from a drummer friend. His girlfriend paid good money for Zoe (originally named Chloe) as a puppy. But the pup didn’t fit in with the large cats that occupied the house. The trauma of these early years with cats is still evident today – over a decade later.

Commitment to Promises

Fast forward now to last year. I shared in an earlier post that 2019 was the Year of Loss for our small family. My Mother-in-law passed and Zoe found herself in limbo. I desperately wanted to make good on my promise, but as luck (or rather life) would have it, we were in the middle of moving half-way across the country.

Zoe, an old lady in her own right now, requires special care. Years ago she lost all her teeth. The results of bad genetics meant they literally just rotted out. During one of her expensive “dentist” trips to the vet he called to let me know there was no use, we should have them pulled. We agreed and since then Zoe required special feeding. More recently Zoe is also quickly losing her sight and needs shepherding – especially in strange environments. My brother-in-law also shared that she was losing control of her bladder. All of this equaled a demanding addition to the family at a time when we barely had time to eat and bathe ourselves. We asked if said Brother-in-law could care for her a little longer. At first he said yes, but quickly rescinded.

Left in a conundrum, we had to simply say “no” to Zoe. I felt guilty and frustrated. I really wanted to make good on the promise to my Mother-in-law. But there was just no way we could bring a blind dog into a construction zone. Nor could we expect her to make the long-distance trip by vehicle from Seattle to Austin (twice). My commitment to promises was being tested. It was an untenable situation.

Thankfully Todd’s Niece stepped in. An animal lover herself, as well as someone that love Mom as much as we do, she promised to care for Zoe until we could take her. We were relieved to find a solution.

What Happened to Her Ear?

One day, a few months ago, Todd’s Niece showed up at our house – Zoe in tow – to help us clean the place as we prepared to list the Seattle place for sale. A bit sheepishly she asked if we noticed anything different with Zoe. I stared at her as she wandered around the ground. After a moment my eyes widened and my mouth gaped – what happened to her ear?!?!

Poor Zoe. She had accidentally bumped into one of the large dogs and the dog – unappreciative of the unwelcome encounter – “corrected” Zoe with a quick nip. At first everything seemed fine, but Todd’s Niece later saw some blood on Zoe’s ear and traced it back to a large tear. As a result, Zoe now has only half of her right ear. But at least the vets “shaped” it to look similar to her original signature pointed tips. And, we learned, with a little training Zoe was fully potty-trained again. Her “bladder” issue wasn’t so much a bladder issue, but rather an issue of inconsistent training.

Welcome to the Farm

Zoe explores the back yard with the girls. And thanks to her blindness, she no longer plays predator with the hens. Which means they are much more tolerant of her being close by.

Fast forward to last week. Todd and I made the flight back to Seattle to wrap up the Seattle house and pick up Zoe. Todd’s Niece had done a phenomenal job caring for her tiny charge. Zoe was happy, healthy and still maintained that spunky attitude we’ve come to love. The flight was surreal and TSA was (as always) willing to make me feel safe and secure with an invasive pat-down (a story for another post). With Zoe in tow, we boarded our flight back to Austin. I kept my hand on her back to reassure her she was ok. About five hours later we were home. Zoe soaked up her new surroundings and enjoyed a quick meal of scrambled eggs and squash before snuggling in for a good night’s rest.

That was a week ago today. Now Zoe is fully settled in to her new home and routine. She’s still learning the lay of the land (and with 96 acres that may take some time). But she’s already figured out the main areas around the house and is busy exploring new areas every day. Zoe is quickly becoming the resident farm dog and I am so happy I can uphold my commitment to the promise I made Mom.