Hi everyone, my name is Preston and thank you for taking a moment to read this. Recently my home suffered a huge loss, though it came in such a small package. We're here hoping to cover the remainder of the bills owed for our sweet girl.
On Sunday, 09/25/22, we lost part of our family. Her name was Zoey, sometimes known as Zoey-Bird, Birdie Girl, Birdie, and Brownie, to name a few. I never thought about why she had so many nicknames until she was gone, and I’m still not sure I have an answer other than she had so many ways to make you smile and see her. She was a sweet girl to the end, never a bite, never so much as a growl (except her stomach, complete foodie) as everyone was her friend. Now I’m heartbroken with those that knew Zoey, but there may be a few rabbits, squirrels, and groundhogs that feel different as she kept them on their toes around the clock.
I could write a thousand pages about this amazing dog because, as so many of you know, they are more than dogs when you know their love — they are part of the family. Zoey was almost 12 years old when she died; enough time for her beautiful spirit to reach so many. Zoey and her sister Marlee have been through the worst times with us and never once wavered or failed in making those times more bearable. They say a dog's love is unconditional; I say it is perfect and true, and for those who have known it, we have known love in the purest form. Sometimes all you have to do is open your eyes or listen for the pounding of paws across the hardwood floors when you get home from work.
Beagle and Blue Tick, talk about a nose and a set of ears. She was chosen from the litter because she had a broken or bent tail from how she was crowded in the womb. And, because of that tail, she was the only one not chosen before we found her. We didn’t mind it; in fact, we loved it. Somehow we knew this puppy would have more character, and boy did she.
We live in the country, and Zoey’s early life could be described as the “The Chase.” From the moment you got her outside, the chase was on, or sometimes the pull if you were smart enough to remember the leash. Most are probably thinking, “…oh yeah, beagles love to track game.” While that’s true, this girl would track anything, even mice and grasshoppers. Yes, grasshoppers. Zoey wasn’t brought into the family for hunting, though; she was welcomed as part of the family and a companion for Marlee. We knew she had a different plan and we learned a lot about hunting. Usually, we were hunting frantically for her when she’d chase too far, but it counts.
Zoey had a great life with her sister. She played hard and was a master of rest too. That play took its toll on her, though, and at around eight years old, we noticed she was slowing down. Arthritis. It was not a good diagnosis, but we had a wonderful vet who helped manage it. She slowed down more over the years but always found that spark when she needed or wanted to run.
We noticed a more dramatic change in our girl a few months ago. She still wanted to go, but not quite so far anymore. We had bloodwork run, and she had an extremely high liver count. This could mean a lot of things, so we hoped for the best. Our vet suggested a Cushing’s test, which we did. Not a cheap test, but we’d do anything for our Zoey. It showed positive, heartbreaking but not the worst diagnosis at her age. She was non-symptomatic; our vet thought she’d outlive the disease anyway. My concern was the test could and often did provide a false positive.
We accepted it, but somehow that was a turning point for Zoey. Over the following weeks, we noticed a change in the color of her stool. Our vet had put her on gabapentin to help the novox with her arthritis, thinking that was why she had been slowing down more. It wasn’t the case. She would also throw her food up, now and then, but still had her voracious appetite, was drinking fine, and her stool did return to normal. We chased things like food allergies to a recent change in food, and she would go days and seem better, but the occasional vomiting continued. More tests, more bloodwork, and lots of worries. X-rays were eventually given, which gave our vet enough concern to send us to a specialist for an ultrasound. Our vet had been worried about a possible blockage, and her liver looked enlarged along with her spleen.
We didn’t hesitate after the x-rays, and we drove her across the mountain to the specialist the next day. It had been a tough couple of days because while Zoey wanted to go, she was losing that “go” quickly. It was an all-day ordeal at the specialist, hoping and praying for the best. Something simple like IBS, or to be honest, we’d have been happy to hear, “…it’s a blockage; we’re going to take care of it right now.” These were not the words we got. The ultrasound showed nodules on both her liver and lungs; the vet believed it was cancer. That dreaded word. There was a chance it could have been a fungal disease, so we clung to hope again. We opted for the fungus and cancer test, praying for the former, which could have been treated with antibiotics. The prognosis for cancer was anywhere from four weeks to four months or more. Not wonderful, but now I’d give anything for that time. We took her home to wait and pray.
It was Friday evening, and Zoey was not the same dog that traveled over the mountain to the specialists with us, made even more pitiful by her shaved belly for the ultrasound. We were given a few different meds to help with her vomiting and hopefully help her regain some of her strength. She ate a little food, and I gave her the first dose, as instructed, and I had hoped for a peaceful night for her. This would be our second sleepless night with Zoey as she paced and couldn’t seem to rest. She was already on a bland diet of small portions of boiled chicken and white rice. She wouldn’t eat more that night but drank a little water. The morning came, and something was hanging over the house, a sort of malaise for us all and Zoey would barely drink and refused to look at food. She was also having more trouble picking herself up. We called our family vet, and she suggested not worrying so much about her eating. We were told to concentrate on her drinking water and taking the Cerenia.
Saturday was a horrible day. We struggled to get the Cerenia in her, but we could keep her drinking at least a little. It was all happening so fast, too fast, just that sense that something was going on beyond what we or anyone could see or make sense of. It was the most helpless day of my life as we watched this sweet girl start to fade from our lives. We called our vet. We contacted and visited an emergency vet, but there was no answer for anything. No explanation. It was no one’s fault; it was simply no longer in our hands. There was no way to stop whatever was happening in her poor little body.
I stayed with her every moment and settled in for a third sleepless night with her. I cried. I prayed. I cried more. I held her, and I talked to her. Whenever Zoey was hurt or scared (fireworks especially), she clung to me. She looked at me with those brown eyes that would melt my heart and say, “please help me.” I watched her breathing get worse, I watched her try to get away from whatever pain was wracking her body, and at four in the morning, I knelt beside her, and I told her it was okay to go, how much I loved her and wanted her to stay, but that if she needed to go that I understood. My following prayer was not for her to get better but for God to take her, ease her pain and keep her safe. An hour later, I lay beside her, rubbing her along her body, telling her it was okay as she took her last breath. Our girl was gone.
I’ve always known the debt I owe to her for the years of “wet nose” love she gave me, even if one of her greatest joys was standing on my chest to tell me it’s time to go out and patrol the yard and fields when all I wanted was another wink of sleep. So when the time came, we gave her our best, and I know the vets that got to see Zoey did theirs as well. There was nothing we wouldn’t have done for our sweet girl. Right now, we carry the weight of this loss that is unlike any other, and once again, I’d pay any amount to feel the weight of her standing on my chest again to say, “Let’s go, fam!”.
There’s an emptiness in the house, a coldness that makes it feel unwelcome to all of us. At every turn, a memory, a smile, and so far, an ache that shakes me. The loss of Zoey has made me afraid of something inside me and ashamed that I could wish her back here when I know she was so sick. I’m still confused by her death, but I see no answer will come. It was just her time to go. No matter what, I know she fought to the end, and the look she gave us seemed to say she was sorry she was leaving us, and that would be just like her. Zoey’s sister, Marlee, has suffered from her own Arthritis and seizures over the past few years, and I’m burdened enormously by the thought and guilty wonder, did I miss something with Zoey? A sign? A symptom I should have picked up on? I’ll never know, but hopefully, I can make peace with it one day.
I know all of us that have known this special kind of love understand when the vet requires you to pay upfront, there’s no real choice between making that payment or paying the mortgage or electric bill. We choose the best treatment and care we can find. Some may not agree, but no matter what, I feel I’m right — we’re right to make that choice.
And so, this is why this family has come here for a bit of help. We paid what we could on those vet bills, neglecting others, and we still have ourselves and our sweet Marlee to care for. No amount is too small, and any money donated will be used to pay the remainder of Zoey’s vet bills, neglected bills until we’re caught up.