July 29, 2008


A happy Zoe.

Zoe and Zeke

Ten years ago, the kids and I moved back to Louisiana to be near family while Keith was deployed for a year to a small atoll in the Indian Ocean called Diego Garcia. It was a hard time for me and the children, who were missing their daddy. One fateful night we watched "Old Yellar"... a bad mistake if you have emotional children but it was to be one of the best decisions of my life. It made me want a yellar dog! After wiping my tears and grabbing the classifieds I saw an ad that said "yellow lab mix, free to good home" I promptly called. The next day, a most loyal friend entered our lives and forever changed us. We named her Zoe.

Her former owners had found her as a stray who had been hit by a car. They were moving to a new home that didn't allow dogs so they had to let her go. When they cried at releasing her to us, I knew then that we must have someone special on our hands. But not knowing yet if she would work out with my young children, I asked for a trial period with her. One morning a few days later, Max was in the yard playing... When I heard Zoe ferociously barking, I became concerned and rushed outside. I saw her hair standing up on end and she was barking at Max. I thought- this dog is vicious! She's Old Yellar at the END of the movie! I was about to rescue Max and send Zoe packing when Max said, "Mom, there's a snake!" Zoe was standing between Max and a 5 foot long water moccasin! As you can probably guess... She passed her trial. We kept her! And we never regretted it! Since that day, she patiently followed us wherever the Navy led us, eventually coming full circle to her birthplace in Louisiana when Keith retired.

Zoe was the sweetest, most loving, loyal dog you could ever meet. She was a beautiful yellow lab and retriever mix with the softest fur I've ever felt. And did she ever LOVE to be petted! Often laying her head in your lap to make sure you got the point. There was something especially comforting about burying your head in her fur and wrapping your arms around her wide frame. It was just plain "therapetic" to quote Barney Fife. She could fix those beautiful eyes on you and melt the coldest heart...

But this past Monday, July 28th, Zoe passed from this life, leaving our home and family with an empty place. We are all heartbroken and devasted.

Zoe loved everybody she met (except for the UPS man :^) and was a faithful protecter of our home. No wild animal was safe if they were unfortunate enough to venture into Zoe's domain....Possums, stray cats, snakes, coons... Years ago she had a legendary fight with an enormous raccoon. Needless to say... the raccoon lost.
She was full of personality. She is the only dog I ever saw who could actually smile. She usuallly did it when she had done something wrong. If we came home from church and Zoe was smiling, we knew she had gotten into the trash... It was her one vice. If one of us ever put on a baseball cap, Zoe would practically dance. In her mind, this meant she was going for a walk. Even after she got older and couldn't walk as far, the twins would thrill her soul by taking her down the sidewalk on her leash. She didn't ask for much and was easy to please.

Zeke (our German Shepherd) adored her. Zoe tolerated Zeke. He loved to wrestle with her. She usually won but that didn't stop him from trying. If Zeke heard Zoe go outside, he had to be with her. He is lost without her.
Zoe had been relatively healthy throughout her life. A couple of weeks before Haley's wedding I noticed that she seemed weak. She seemed to have trouble getting up and moving around. She was going on 13 years so we knew that she wouldn't be with us a whole lot longer. But I prayed she'd hang on until after the wedding. She seemed to get stronger and to be her old self for a while. Then Monday I noticed that her breathing was labored. I called Keith and he made her an appointment with the vet. She came and laid down in the hall, outside my bedroom door to be near all of us. Hannah and Joseph were concerned for her so Hannah went and got some anointing oil and put it on her head and was praying for her. Suddenly Zoe just looked up and laid her head down and then died. She was where she wanted to be- with the family she loved. She didn't have to be put down by a vet but she died in her favorite place, in her home, near her family. Keith immediately came home from work, so did Max and Haley and Josh rushed over... We all said our goodbyes. There were lots and lots of tears. We then took her out to Cathy and Bill's house in the country and wrapped her in her favorite blanket and buried her there. It was heartbreaking. But we know that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and who are called according to His purpose. I don't understand why this had to happen now, when so much is going on in our lives, but I do know that God is good and His ways are higher than our ways. I told the kids that she is waiting for us in our mansion in heaven. Probably getting hair all over the floor and terrorizing the possums... ;^).

Please pray for us, the children especially, they are inconsolable... They will be okay for a while, but then suddenly they will break down. We all do at times. It is very hard. The twins have had Zoe in their lives since they were two years old! We miss her terribly. There is a huge fluffy empty place in our home where Zoe used to be. We don't know how to function without her loving presence in our home. But we will learn.

Also pray for Zeke. He walks around looking for her and whining. She was his closest friend. She was a member of our family and a constant part of our lives for ten years. Our hearts are heavy but God is good.

We are thankful for many things. One being that Haley was still here when she passed on. Haley and Zoe had a special bond. For this to have happened after Haley was in St. Louis would have been very difficult for Haley to bear. Also we are thankful that she was at home with those she loved when she died. And we are thankful that she didn't suffer. Even up until the end, her eyes were peaceful.

Our hearts will heal, but we will NEVER forget our Zoe, aka- Zolene the Possum Queen, Zolanda, Zola Coyola, Zo-Zo or just plain Zo. She was almost human. Heck, she was BETTER than human. We humans could learn some things from dogs like Zoe. As Haley said so rightly, she loved Zoe more than many people she knew. Its because Zoe was ever patient, always loving, forgiving, protective, faithful, loyal, always there. Lord help us be more like that ourselves!

Please pray for us. For non-animal-loving people, it may seem hard to understand, but we are all truly grieving. I know that God will bring us through and it won't always hurt this bad, but until then, we'd appreciate your prayers. His grace IS sufficient!

God bless. Kayla


Becky Kaase said...

She was a lucky girl!

Anonymous said...

Zoe was more than a dog, a pet...she was a family member! We all loved her. I'm so glad I got to see her Saturday when we came over and sneak her a few bites of hamburger!
Praying for all of ya'll...

Anonymous said...

I sit here crying at work reading this. I know exactly what you are going through. God is good, he allows us to have our memories of our loved ones that have passed on. Remember Zoe in your hearts and she will never be far from you.

God bless you for sharing your story.


JustFurKidsCarol said...

sniff sniff...I am so very sorry for your loss. But Becky is right. Zoe was indeed one lucky girl to have found a family that loved her so very much.

I know how devestating the pain is now.... So heartbreaking when we lose the ones we love. But try and remember all the things that made her so special and think of her now healthy and happy romping at the rainbow bridge. And yes still terrorizing those possums and snakes!

Godspeed Sweet Zoe.
webmaster North Lousiana GSD Rescue

Unknown said...

I hope this helps . . .

The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called The Rainbow Bridge.
It connects heaven and earth.

When a beloved pet dies, it goes to this place.

It is a land of meadows, hills, and valleys with lush green grass.
There is always plenty of food and water and sunshine;
our friends are warm and comfortable. Those old and frail animals are young again, restored to health and vigor. Those who have been hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again.
The animals play all day with each other; they are happy and content.

There is only one thing missing. They are not with their special
person who loved them on earth; the one who had to be left behind.
So each day they run and play until the day comes when one suddenly
stops and looks up into the distance. The bright eyes are intent.
The nose twitches! The ears perk up! And this one suddenly
breaks away from the group, flying over the green grass;
his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been seen.

And when you and your special friend meet, you take him
in your arms and embrace. The happy kisses rain upon your face.
Your hands again caress the beloved head. You look once more
into the trusting eyes of your pet.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Kayla...you don't know me, and your blog came to me thru a random e-mail from a rescue group I belong too. But your words were needed, for our family also lost a beloved pet of 14 yrs just last week. I could not possibly write about the experience as well as you did, but you spoke directly to my heart as for the feelings our family felt. My 11 yr old was devastated, Jethro was here when she came home from the hospital...welcomed her into the family with a few sniffs and a light lick on the toes. He also watched over her as she played in the yard...our own guardian from critters of all sorts.

They are family, no matter what anyone says, pets are chosen family. We teach them, we nurture them, we do our best to keep them healthy and happy...and we love them. Till our own last breathe we remember them and tho we may get another pet, the ones who were a part of us never really leave....they are waiting to play like a pup again when we come to their new Blessed home.

Anonymous said...

So very sorry Johnson family! I've had many pets in my life and there are a few that stand out in my mind like Zoe does in yours. Time does heal but I agree, you never forget.
Love and Prayers,

Anonymous said...

Have you ever thought that the word "DOG" is God in reverse, or one might say a reflection of God? Dogs love us like God: they never judge us, just love us as we are. I had a dog like that once, and I can honestly say that time will heal the wounds, but you never forget loved ones. This is true even of dogs. I am sorry for your loss. May the love of God wrap you in His arms of love during this time of sorrow. He knows about when a sparrow falls, and our Father knows when we hurt. He is probably crying with you. (Weep with those who weep - He wrote it!)
Shalom! I am thankful for your love for the body of Christ, and for your songs. If me, how much more does God love to hear those sweet sounds from Max, Kayla, and the rest of the gang. Families who sing together have a deep love and appreciation for each other, the extended family, and for God. May God send His Angel of mercy to your door!_Michael Montague

worshiping warriors said...

I want to say thank you to all of you for your kind and comforting comments. I'm so blessed to know there are so many other compassionate pet lovers out there. Time and God do heal. We are all doing better and the pain has eased somewhat. But we'll never, ever forget our wonderful friend and family member-Zoe. It has been a pleasant surprise to see so many, who didn't even know Zoe send their condolances. Thank you for your compassion and bless you. Kayla