Adopting a pet from an animal shelter can elicit all sorts of frightening prospects. How will I know which animal is the right one? What about his or her unknown past? What if we end up not liking him or her? You face those decisions with any animal you adopt or purchase. That’s the commitment you make. Our “Zoe” used to be called Brianna. I stopped at a local restaurant recently and saw her picture on an old poster, along with six other dogs from the shelter needing homes. She looked so scared in that photo; her expression is enough to break your heart. She’s frightened of so many things; baseball hats, gloves, a person standing with their arms out to their sides, sudden moves, a certain look in a person’s eyes, being confined.
She cowers easily and has only two expressions, happy or sad. Her ears are straight up or pinned way down. There are no words to describe the look on her face when those ears lay down, or how quickly her expression changes. There’s a feeling a person gets when something we see or hear causes the blood to drain from our faces in fear or sadness or sudden shock, when our hearts suddenly drop. That’s the expression you see on Zoe’s face when she lowers her ears. Zoe is a Basenji, though probably not purebred. She is too big and has a loud bark.
She’s so kind. She loves people, particularly women. But she doesn’t really trust anyone. I don’t like thinking about it, but I have the feeling she was hurt by someone she really trusted. She never totally drops her guard. You can be petting her and she’s happy, but if you make a sudden move, she’s ready to pull back in a flash. It’s as if she’s saying, “I’ve been here before. This is when I’m going to get hurt. Please don’t hurt me.”
We were told that Zoe was found on a construction site. It took the workers days to lure her. She came closer and closer each time, for food. She was hungry. She was scared. Hunger won out. It’s sad to think of her hiding out for days, hungry and scared. It’s even sadder to think of the awful things that must have happened to her to make that decision between life and death so difficult. When the construction workers were finally able to get a leash on her, they were surprised by how friendly she was. She’d duck whenever they raised their hands, but as long as they were petting her, she wagged her tail.
Her tail is silly. It curls up over her back and wags back and forth like a windshield wiper. When she’s scared, just like with her ears, down goes the tail as low as it can go. Zoe knows tricks. She knows how to sit. She knows how to give you her paw. She absolutely loves giving you her paw, so gently, and smiles and wiggles all over when you praise her for a job well done. Whoever taught her tricks, at least made her happy sometimes. Housetraining was challenging; you could not even raise your voice. She could also jump a fence like a gazelle.
Zoe is gentle with puppies and holds her own with dogs full size. She doesn’t like it when they play too rough and will have her say and then walk away. She wants everybody to just get along. She’s a peacemaker.
Zoe’s story had a happy ending. Our daughter and granddaughter met Zoe one day while volunteering as dog walkers at the Geauga County Dog Shelter and Warden’s Office. Our son was looking for a cattle dog and if Zoe, known then as Brianna, tilted her head a certain way, she could do a pretty darn good impression of one. Zoe was brought home that afternoon, and even with all the little ups and downs of her behavior, she has been such a joy. We love her dearly, and each day see her become more and more trusting. It would be sad to think of all the affection and joy we would have missed out on if we’d given up on Zoe, if we’d considered her too much of a challenge or too much trouble. But the name “Zoe” means life, and our Zoe found a home for life.
The adoption fee at the Geauga County Dog Shelter and Warden’s Office is $125.00 for puppies under 6 months old and $100.00 for all dogs over 6 months old. This adoption fee includes spay/neuter and routine vaccinations. This fee also includes an Ohio dog license current for the year. The shelter is located in Chardon, Ohio on Merritt Road. Their phone number is 440-286-8135.