It’s been a while since my last post.  There has been a lot going on since then.  We’ve had several visitors, cleared more brush, planted and tending a garden (still no water on property so this is more effort than you would think), fenced in a new pasture and moved the horses, tilled and planted pasture (still trying to learn the rain dance so that I can get it to grow), had electricity brought to the property, and, and …. but this post is about a dog that decided that we were her people.

On Wednesday night, 6 June 2012, I was out on the tractor tilling up a field when I saw this black lab running down the street trying to catch up with a car.  She wasn’t chasing it away  as some dogs do – it looked like she was following it saying – “Wait for me!”  Then a little later I saw her following another car going the other direction – and then she saw me on the tractor.  She came over to me and proceeded to follow me around on the tractor for the next 2 hours.  When I finally got off the tractor she was a bit hesitant at first but after I said a few kind words she was very friendly.  And that is how Zoe came into our lives.

Zoe - Surrounded by Bones and Her Monkey Duck Baby

Zoe followed me to the barn and I gave her some water.  She was in good spirits, but a bit of a mess.  She was so skinny her ribs were sticking out and she was covered in cow manure.  I called Steve and asked “How much do you miss Max?”  You see Max was an unwanted neighborhood dog that my daughter and son-in-law adopted when they stayed with us on their way to relocating to Florida.  Max stayed with us for about a month (along with Michelle’s three cats) while the kids got settled in to their new home.  We had just dropped Max off with the kids a couple weeks before Zoe showed up.  We got a little attached to Max while he stayed with us, but were glad to deliver him to the kids.  Zoe and Max are both black labs.

Steve came to the barn to see what I had found.  He brought a couple cups of dog food with him – which she immediately inhaled.  It would take about 5 days of feeding her before she started to chew her food.  We had to give her just one cup at a time (~6-8 times/day) so she wouldn’t get sick from eating too much at once.  Then after about a week and a half, she started to leave food in the dish some times.  She is now being free fed – I put out 6 cups of food every morning in two different bowls (one bowl is for our other dog, Daisy – but they eat out of both bowls).  When the bowls are emptied – I put more food in.

That first night, we thought about leaving Zoe at the barn to see if she would find her way home – but it was pitch dark and she was already so attached we were afraid she would run after our cars and we might hit her.  So we took her home that night.  We kept her outside – but I still gave her a bath just to cut down on the stink.  It would take another bath or two to get all the manure smell out.

The next day I took her back to the farm thinking that if she lived near by she would go home – but she stuck close to me the whole time.  Since it smelled like she had been around cattle – I went to some of our cattle neighbors to see if she was their dog – no.  I had noticed a lab at another house and stopped there to see if she belonged to them – no, their dog was inside with her puppies.  I even called someone who owns some property near us that I knew had a black lab puppy.  He had brought the puppy to our farm for a visit last fall.  We figured that the dog we found was mostly grown but young, maybe between 1 and 2 years old – so his dog might be the right age.  He’s not been in town for a while, but I called to see if he might have stopped by the property and lost his dog. Not his – his dog actually disappeared last winter, but it was a male.

Zoe Takes a Drink Out of the Horse's Water Tank

From the shape she was in, I figured that someone had dumped Zoe out in the country (which I hear happens quite often where we live).   I thought the first truck I saw her running after might have dumped her, but I later found out that Zoe had found one of my neighbors first and jumped into her truck.  The neighbor pulled her out (can’t blame her, this dog really stank) and drove the truck down the road hoping the dog would go home.  She had the same thought that I did – she might belong to the people who had cattle and drove toward their house.

After a few days of searching for her owner, we decided that her home was with us now.  We were trying to figure out a good name for her.  I went through several names in my mind, but they didn’t seem to fit.  For some reason, Zoe came to mind and seemed to fit her. I’m not sure why Zoe came to mind, the only Zoe that I could think of was the main character is a short-run Sci-Fi series called Caprica (several years ago).  Caprica was a spin-off from the Battlestar Galactica series and explains how the Cylons were created.  Zoe died early in the series – but a virtual copy of her lived on and was put into the first Cylon.  So it was as though she had a new life.  I looked up the meaning of Zoe, and it comes from the Greek word for “life”, or new beginning.  Since Zoe was getting a new life with us – that became her name.

I can’t really explain how she communicated this to me, but somehow I knew that Zoe wanted a toy – something that she could have that was hers.  I got her this strange looking toy that looks like a cross between a monkey and a duck – with a squeaker in it.  She loves that toy and carries it around with her – that’s her baby.  At first Zoe was confused when ever she accidentally made a squeak.  Now she loves to squeak, shake, toss, and retrieve the baby to entertain herself when no one will play with her.  Steve suggested that I get a couple duplicate monkey ducks so when one gets destroyed, I can replace it.

We started letting Zoe in the house a little at a time.  She had a problem with diarrhea and seemed to have to go potty constantly.  We thought that maybe she had been living on cow manure and that after she had good food cycle through for a few days it would go away, but after a week she still had a problem.  She also seemed to not be house trained.  It seemed that whenever we would be distracted just for a few seconds she would sneak somewhere we weren’t looking and potty in the house.  We thought that after we cleared up the diarrhea this problem might go away.

Max in the Pool at His New Home with Michelle and Brian

After about a week of staying with us, Zoe still had diarrhea.  We took Zoe to the vet to have her checked out and get her shots.  We had planned to get her spayed – but the vet suggested that we do it immediately (like the next morning) – so we left her there over night.  We felt sorry for her – she finally found a home and now she was being left in a strange place overnight.  Since we didn’t know we would be leaving her – we didn’t think to bring her toy.  When we picked her up the next day we brought her baby with us and she was very happy to carry it in her mouth.

We also got a three day worming series for Zoe.  She got her first dose at the vet so when we took her home, her diarrhea was already better.  Since she just had surgery – we let her sleep in the house for the first time – and she made it through the night.  She’s been a house dog ever since.  But she still had an issue with going potty in the house – and was sneaking around to do it.

I started carrying treats in my pocket and would go outside with Zoe so that I could see her potty outside and give here a treat while telling her what a good girl she was.  The first time I went to give her a treat – she cowered when I reached my arm out to give it to her.  I think her prior owner must have beat her when she pottied  in the house and she associated going potty with getting beat.  It didn’t take her long to realize that going potty outside was a good thing.  She likes to make sure I see her potty so that she can get a treat.  She’s only had one accident since then, but it was when she was exited and playing with Steve and Daisy – and she didn’t hide it – she just had to go.  I was able to grab her half way through and put her outside to finish.  No accidents since then.  She even wakes us up in the middle of the night when she needs to be let outside.  Good Zoe.

One thing about Labrador Retrievers, they absolutely love water.  While we were watching Max I took him to the farm often and whenever we were close to the creek he would go down and take a little swim.  Even if we came by a little bit of mud he would lay down in it and wiggle around.  When we dropped him off with the kids in FL, he absolutely loved the pool at his new house.

Zoe Makes Do in Her Little Pool

Zoe also loves the water – and she is anxious to go visit Max and his new pool.  I’ve taken Zoe with me a few times to water the horses.  She likes to jump in their water tank and walk around in it.  I try not to bring her when I’m doing that now – I don’t care for dog hair in my water tank.  At home, we like to put a bucket of water on the porch by the back door.  We can’t do that anymore – Zoe will dump it – the water goes down to crawl space under the porch – Zoe goes and lays in the mud.  So in order to have some water outside for the dogs to drink and something for Zoe to “cool” off in, I got a small pool.  Zoe would like it bigger, but she’s making do.

Another thing I’ve noticed about labs (at least Zoe and Max) – is that they seem to have a super sniffer mode that they go into.  When ever there’s something they are trying to find, their super sniffer makes a thumping noise.

In addition to Zoe’s baby – I also keep her supplied with chew bones (which she loves).  She tries to hog all the bones.  I’ve seen her try to claw the carpet in order to hide a bone, but that didn’t work.  I’ve also seen her lay on one bone while she’s chewing another (trying to keep them from Daisy).  But that’s OK – Daisy likes Zoe to pre-chew the bones.  Then when Zoe gets distracted, Daisy grabs a bone that Zoe has softened up.  Zoe has been pretty good about not chewing other things in the house – we had a blanket hanging off a couch that she thought would make a good tug toy – but I told her that wasn’t hers.  She also found a couple boxes she wanted to chew.  When she gets something she’s not supposed to have, I try to give her her “baby” so she knows that is her’s, but not the other stuff.  But I’m almost getting ready to retract the statement about Zoe not chewing up other things.  Steve has a toy parrot that talks to you when it gets pressed.  He was in the office working when he heard the parrot talking to him.  And no, the toy was not possessed and talking on its own.  Zoe had “found” the toy and was setting it off while chewing on it.

Zoe Retrieves the Frisbee

I finally have a Frisbee dog – yea!.  Zoe caught on the Frisbee game quick.  I have a soft Frisbee and she started retrieving it immediately, it just took her a little time to figure out how to pick it up.  She always brings it back – but sometimes not by the most direct route and sometimes she wants to play tug instead of giving it to me.  I have a separate toy for her to play tug with (she doesn’t really like it) and I won’t let her tug with the Frisbee.  I sometimes bring treats with me when we play and bribe her with them to get the Frisbee back.  Some times when she gets a burst of energy and is driving us (including Daisy) crazy in the house – I take her outside to play Frisbee to work off some of that energy.  I was wondering how to teach her to try to catch the Frisbee – but she’s catching on to that idea all by herself.  It would help if I could throw it better, but she’s managed to catch it a couple times with several other “catch and fumble” attempts.

I thought I would be taking Zoe to the farm more often – but I can’t take her when I’m working on the tractor.  She gets in the way and I’m afraid I’ll run her over.  She wants to climb up in the tractor with me – but there’s no room for her.  I also don’t like to take her when I’m working in the garden or watering the horses.  Apparently Zoes cries when I leave without her to work at the farm.

Zoe and our other dog Daisy get along great.  Sometimes Daisy gives us this look like “why do I have to break in another puppy?”  But then we remind her that when she was a

Daisy Watches Zoe Get a Bone Ready for Her to Steel

puppy she did the same thing to Jabba.  Prior to Zoe – Daisy had to deal with Max.  And a few years ago we dog sat her cousin GiGi for a few months when she was a puppy (GiGi is a Giant Schnauzer – strong, fast, and full of energy).  Zoe tries to get Daisy to play with her but nipping at her and then immediately rolling over on her back and trying to play from a submissive position.  Of course if Daisy tries to run away – Zoe chases.  Zoe is also getting used to our cat, Dexter.  She chased him a couple times, but I think she’s used to him now.  She’s just sad when he lays in the “poof” (a large beanless beanbag that we let the critters lay on).  Zoe goes back and forth between the poof and the floor.  She’s been known to go over to Dexter when he’s in the poof and sigh.  Since Dexter is allowed on the couches and Zoe is not – I sometimes move Dexter so that Zoe can have the poof.

Zoe Sleeping in the Poof

Zoe is friendly – but likes to let us know whenever she hears something that might be trouble.  She barks to warn us – and then Daisy barks too.  Daisy doesn’t usually know why – but if Zoe is barking there must be a good reason.  Zoe also hears things on TV that sometimes set her off.  There was a commercial on TV that had a dog bark and Zoe perked up to see what it was.  So Steve jumped the DVR back so she could listen to it again – and the next time she heard the TV dog bark, a barking frenzy ensued.

Zoe is definitely a member of our family now – I’m glad she choose us.