Zoe's 14th Birthday!

Date Posted: 02/26/2014
Posted in: Scout & Zoe's Doggie News   Tags: birthday, senior dog,

The beautiful muzzle I have kissed a billion times is now silver and the eyes that once sparkled are now cloudy. She doesn’t rise from her bed as quickly as in days past. She prefers to sleep in late, laying in the sunshine on soft sofas and beds. The once athletic body is now thin and frail. Both of us are aging. Together.

 Zoe, my German Shepherd, constant companion and light of my life is now 14 years old. She celebrated her 14th birthday on February 25, 2014. Of all the dogs I have ever enjoyed as companions, I’ve never had a dog live this long. While I love the shared time together, it is difficult to watch her age.

I remember bringing her home on Easter Sunday in 2000. She was eight weeks old and was just the cutest thing I had ever seen. She captured my heart the moment I laid eyes on her. And she picked us to take her to a new fur-ever home. During the ride home, I held her in my arms the entire hour drive. She snuggled in and slept the whole way. And the very first thing she did when she entered our home was poop in the den. She has always been her own girl.

Hard to believe this fearless, ever-active, loyal companion has aged so dramatically in the past two years. Up to that time, she still behaved with the zeal of a pup. She was always right in the thick of anything that was happening indoors or outside on her turf. She would charge any squirrel, dog or person walking along our street. Now she barks for the sport of it or at nothing in particular.

She roams the first floor of our house aimlessly. She no longer attempts to navigate the basement stairs and moves gingerly up and down the stairs to the upper floor of the house to be with me in my office or the bedroom or when I am on the toilet. I haven’t gone to the toilet alone in almost 14 years.

She wants to be with me anywhere I go. If I am out of the room for more than five minutes, she will come searching for me. Zoe has always stuck to me like glue but now it seems like even more of a comfort to her to be with me. As long as I am near, she is calm and relaxed.

Rides in the car are still enjoyable although she knows it is difficult to get into the back seat of the car. What once was only an effortless gazelle-like jump onto the seat now requires a helpful hand to get her aging body into the car.

Like every senior, there are good days and not so great days; Zoe still has a lot of very good days. When the weather is just slightly cool and we go outside for a walk, she still does her prancey dance for me. The prancey dance? Picture a horse up on its back legs with the front legs pawing at the air. That is a very good day and she is so happy. She ‘chases’ Scout around the yard. And Scout is kind-hearted enough to romp through the yard slowly so she can sort of catch him.

There are also not so good days. On these days, she is not so sure-footed and loses her balance when she walks. She can’t squat to poop so she walks and poops at the same time or just does her business in the house because she didn’t know she had to go. There are also days when the peripheral vestibular disease she has causes her head to tilt severely to the left; she looks and acts as though she has had a stroke.

When she sleeps, the sleep is so deep she is startled when I wake her. I know one day in the not too distant future, she will not respond when I try to rouse her from her nap. And my time with her will come to an end. That will break my heart.

I wouldn't trade a moment of the past 14 years. Zoe has taught me so much about life, love and aging gracefully. She was the singular inspiration for starting my own business; it was to solve an issue for her. And I will be forever grateful for her presence in my life. 

Our lives are intertwined. Our hearts are full of love for each other. I really don't want her time with me to end but as a responsible pet parent, this is one of the most difficult decisions I will face. I don't want to see my best furry friend suffer. I will be with her to the end of her journey here on earth; I don't want her to go into the unknown alone. I have always been here with her and that day, hopefully well into the future, will be no different. I will be holding her tighly, loving her until the last beat of her heart. I hope there is indeed a Rainbow Bridge. If there is, when I arrive, it will be one of the most joyfilled reunions in the history of all time. 



Love is what you make it and Zoe and I have one of those loves for eternity that grows deeper with each passing day.

If you don't know the love of a senior dog, visit your local shelter. Someone with a silver muzzle is waiting to share their heart of gold with you.