Hello there. My name is Audra and this is The Ruff Life, where I will be sharing my experiences with girl's best friend (and no, I'm not talking about diamonds). My best friend, Zoey, entered my life when I was at the ripe ol' age of 21 years. When she showed up, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Three years later, I'm still trying to figure things out but I guarantee you we are having a lot of fun along the way.
The purpose behind me writing this blog is not just to share my story with Zoey, but to also reach out to others who may find themselves in the same shoes I was given. Now I am by no means a perfect pawrent, and I will never claim to be; but sometimes it's nice to share your experiences so that others may learn from them as well. I'm also hoping that this blog will bring some silliness to the lives of others, provide a learning curve, and to encourage others to adopt older pets because they need a loving home just as much as a puppy does if not more so. Don't get me wrong, I know that puppies are really cute and they have a blank slate to train them to do whatever you want them to do, but I promise that old saying "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" is completely false. All you need is a little luck, patience, and strong consistency.
Now, because this is my first blog discussing my life with Zoey, I feel that it is appropriate to start out with a post about the beginning of us. Prior to Zoey coming into my life, I had been raised in a household where cats ruled the home. In my childhood, if we had a dog, the dog's residence was permanently outside and I avoided them because I was small and they liked to knock me over. So you can imagine my surprise when I came home to my mom's house (located in the middle of nowhere in Oklahoma) one weekend to find a dog in the yard. I had been away at a summer camp in Kansas working and came home for 4th of July weekend when I was 21. When I greeted my mom at the door, I obviously inquired about the new creature in the yard. My mom's response was "Oh, yeah, that dog arrived here about three weeks ago. Your uncle has been feeding it and it sleeps under the deck."
I was astonished to only now be receiving such news. The poor mutt (which we've theorized to be part German Shepard and part Corgi) was just skin and bones. She was filthy, covered in dirt, had a slit in the tip of one of her ears, and you could count her ribs from a mile away (which is obviously an exaggeration, but good grief did her ribs stick out). I asked my uncle about the dog and his response was "Yeah, you should have seen her three weeks ago. I almost shot her just to put her out of her misery. Poor dog. I call her Pitiful." Here is a picture of her the day I met her. Such a scrappy little thing. As you can see, I had also already driven into town just to buy her a collar and claim her as mine.
I was only in town for the weekend when we met, and she remained outside sleeping under the deck. But during that weekend, I spent a lot more time outside just so that she and I could bond even though my mom was discouraging me from getting attached. We didn't know who she had previously belonged to, but my mom sure was trying her darnedest to find out. But I am a firm believer in fate and I knew that this dog came to us for a reason. It was very evident that she had had a "ruff" life and had left that life behind her in the hopes of finding someone who could take better care of her.
When I had arrived home from camp for good a couple of weeks later, I found that the dog was still there hanging out underneath the deck. My mom was unsuccessful in finding the dog's previous owner. In the few weeks that I was home before classes at my college were scheduled to begin, I had looked up possible names for the dog online (because let's face it, "Pitiful" is not a suitable name for a dog). When I was looking up the meanings of baby names in the hopes of finding a good fit for the dog, I came across "Zoey," which means "Life". What name could have possibly been more fitting for a dog who had arrived starving and was almost shot to be put out of her misery? She was getting a second chance with a family who could provide her with happiness.
I was also able to convince my mom that I wanted to keep her and that I would like to take her to school with me. I was going to be moving into a house with two other girls and I thought that having a dog with me would make me feel more security in the home. My mom agreed that it was a good idea, until I helped her realize that I needed to let the dog into the house to make sure she could be potty trained before relocating her. My mom had some conditions for me to meet before letting Zoey into the house. I first had to give Zoey a bath (which I quickly learned she does not like to be sprayed with a hose), I had to take her to the vet to get her shots updated and to check for a chip (which I was a bit mortified taking her to because I didn't want people to think that I had been the one starving her [we also discovered that she was somewhere between 3 and 5 years of age]), I had to borrow a crate from another uncle for her to sleep in, and I had to take her to get her nails trimmed and ears cleaned (which she also did not like at all). That poor dog suffered all day doing things that she was not accustomed to, but she soon discovered it was all worth it because she was allowed in the house as soon as we got home (which my mom still wasn't fond of the idea).
Although these were all new experiences for her, they were also entirely new for me being a previous cat lady. I was panicking for the entire experience because I honestly had no idea what I was doing. How do I give a dog a bath? What if she needed to go potty during the drive? How would I know when to pull over for her? Do I leave her leash on her for the entire ride? What if she bites or growls at the vet? What if I can't make her behave for the vet? Do I need to make an appointment to get her nails trimmed? What would be the best time to go? There were so many questions and concerns running through my head that day.
Even though she was also overwhelmed, I discovered that I had gotten really lucky with Zoey. She hopped into my car with ease and excitement, she didn't mind the number of stops I made on the way into town to check if she needed to go potty, and she was a perfect little lady for the vet. During the bath, however, I was doing it all wrong.. I had tied her to a post with her leash and was spraying her with a hose. Of course she kept running away from me. Who in the right mind would enjoy that experience? She was also a bit disgruntled with the groomers as they were trimming her nails and cleaning her ears. It required two people to hold her down.. Again, who would enjoy that experience? But she never bit or growled at either of the groomers, she just tucked her tail and kept trying to run away at any opportunity she was given.
When we arrived home, there was another pleasant surprise. Zoey didn't require any potty training. She was also very compliant to sleep in her crate at night. We also discovered that she actually is a wonderful guard dog in that she barks at the door when someone comes over. The cats were not too fond of having a dog in the house, but Zoey was loving it.
Things have definitely changed in the three years that she has been with me. My mom now loves Zoey and always welcomes her into her home. I now bathe her by holding her collar and pouring water on her instead of spraying her. She no longer sleeps in a crate. She has open access to the entire house at any point in the day. I had still been taking her to the groomers to get her nails trimmed until recently. I'll post later on about our progress with trimming her nails at home. I've also learned many more things about her personality, we've had many adventures together, and we have overcome many obstacles which I wish to write about throughout this blog. Next week I plan to write about our transition into the house I lived in my senior year of college. Keep in mind, I had no idea what I was doing.
Thank you so much for reading this post about The Ruff Life. Please feel free to leave any comments.
- Audra Nicole