Monday, October 26, 2009

The Life & Times of Zoey - Part 10

A Very Special Tribute to a Very Special Dog

It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of my gorgeous girl Zoey. Most all of you know about Zoey and that she's been with Jonathan Hart in Florida the past few years and his love and devotion to her was 2nd to none, this being the reason she has come this far with her debilitating condition.

From the day Zoey was born, she was a looker with those gorgeous big black eyes and natural eyeliner. She was a stubborn puppy, never coming when called, chewed up most everything she could get ahold of, and destuffed and desqueaked every stuffie or toy ever given to her. Debbie's daughter Amanda really disliked Zoey because of this, but we certainly knew she was special as she always had such a spirit and personality like none other.

Upon hitting the show ring at 6 months of age she was Reserve Winners at the 2002 Eastern Specialty. Following this up the following weekend winning her first point and Best Puppy In Show. The end of July saw Zoey in Canada winning another Best Puppy In Show. She continued her winning ways in the US until before her first birthday when she completed her Championship, along the way she won Best of Winners two of the four days at the Midwest Specialty.

Amanda took over Zoey's career at this point and the bond they had was amazing. Zoey would walk on water for Amanda, but not really let her know that she would. They were the perfect team out in that show ring, and Amanda & Zoey's first Best In Show came in 2003 in Canada, this qualified Zoey for the Show of Shows held at the Ottawa Kennel Club. There is some different judging system for the Show of Shows, something with 3 different judges, and she won the Hound Group, making her Canada's Hound of the Year 2003. She was only lightly shown the rest of 2003.

The year 2004 saw Zoey's show career take off. She was not shown much until June, but she was Best of Breed and Group 1 at the Eastern Specialty. In July Zoey won her first US Best In Show under respected judge Edd Biven who stated "he never gave a Best to any whippet before". Another Best In Show in July and another in September along with many Group wins and placements made her the #7 Whippet in 2004.

In 2005 Zoey's show career went into overdrive. She started the year on the Florida circuit and won the Group at the first show of the year, and the following weekend won the Breed at the AKC Eukanuba National Championship. Her whirlwind of showing saw her win many Groups and placements until May when she was awarded Back to Back Best In Shows at the St. Clairsville Ohio Kennel Club shows. She was unstoppable at this point and continued her ways and in September at the Southern Specialty Zoey won 3 Breeds, a Specialty Best In Show, 2 Group 1's and an All-Breed Best In Show. Two more Bests in November took us into the last shows in December and of the 8 shows she was in, she was Best of Breed at all of them and won 7 Group 1's and 3 more Best In Shows. She ended 2005 as the #1 Whippet, #3 Hound and #25 amongst all breeds in the country.

She continued her winning ways in 2006 with a Breed win and a Group 4 at the Westminster Kennel Club, adding 3 more Best In Shows, and in April the horror began. At a show in Harrisburg she got shooting diahrrea, and was spiking a fever of 104. On Monday she was taken to the vet and her fever was up and down, they did all kinds of tests, blood panels, mylegrams, mri's, even spinal taps were done. Nothing showed anything. She did eventually rebound, and made a nice showing at the 2006 National in Boston. She was back on track in May winning a Group 1, but her backend was weakening. June 2006 was her last show as she went totally down in the rear.

Her rear muscles were deteriorating at an amazing pace. Vets never did know what went on with her and eventually came to the conclusion that she was somehow poisoned, and the poison had left her system when the bloodscreen was done, but had done it's damage. In my minds eye, she was supposed to die with whatever was given to her, but her will to live and spirit and determination overcame, and she survived the unlikely odds. Zoey still ran the farm at Debbie's house, chasing the cats, even de-tailing one of them in her endeavors. Her condition continued to deteriorate, and on her 6th birthday 2007 she came to be with Jonathan in Florida. I did get to see my girl again when my family took a trip to Disney Orlando and met up with Jonathan at a beach.

As Zoey ran the sunny beaches of Florida, even running away and traveling up the beach ending up at animal control, her condition had not improved. Jonathan's love and devotion to her was immeasurable, taking her everywhere, even to school where he is a teacher to underpriveledged kids. She has even been an inspiration to them.

In the spring of 2008 Jonathan called to tell me that Zoey wasn't doing well, and the discussion of putting her down was brought up. Amongst many tears and phone calls between Debbie, Jonathan and myself, it was decided that being she wasn't in any pain, we would up her meds and see what came about and make a decision in a week or so. Zoey's amazing spirit and zest for life took over and she bounced back like a trooper. She kept on truckin' along on her wobbly backend.

That summer Jonathan traveled to Montana and Zoey got her first taste of the clear, cool mountain air. She loved every minute of it, being out on the boat and soaking up the NW sun. As they were returning from their trip Zoey's right leg kept popping out of it's socket and it was very painful for her. She even bit Jonathan when he tried to get it back in place. Upon returning home, Debbie, Jonathan and I went through another tearful discussion of which the vets gave us the decision of removing her leg or euthanazia. Upon much discussion about this it was decided that with Zoey's determination and spirit and will to live we gave her a chance. Her surgery went well and she rebounded with that zestful spirit for life that we all grew to know so well. We knew we made the right decision.

Knowing Zoey could be a 3-legged dog was just fine, if her other leg was in good shape, but with it in a deteriorating condition, it was decided that a wheelchair was in her very near future. I had a custom chair made by Eddie's wheels, and delivered right to Jonathan's door. It was the best $400.00 I ever spent. Zoey wasn't crazy about her wheels at first, but when she realized the freedom it gave her she came to love that chair as much as she loved Jonathan.

Around rolls 2009: I have always had the dream of having a dog to show in the Parade of Honors at the National Specialty, and with a lot of encouragement from friends and family, and some not so encouraging words from some people, it was decided that Zoey would make a return to the show ring in the Parade of Honors at the 2009 National in Atlanta, GA. Jonathan, the saint that he is, took off work so he could drive Zoey to Atlanta for this. Zoey was the last entrant in the Parade and we had her all fitted up in her wheels and her specially made drape and bling. As Zoey and Amanda made their way around the ring, the Parade chairman started reading her bio which read: >>Zoey had to retire in the prime of her career in June 2006. Her US record: 18 Best In Show, 1 Best Puppy in Show, 3 Best In Specialty Show, 76 Group 1, 182 Best of Breeds (including BOB & Group 4 at Westminster), and many Group placements. She was in the Top 10 2004-2007. She was Hound of the Year 2003 in Canada. And in the US 2005's #1 Whippet, #3 Hound, #25 All Breed. Besides her amazing accomplishments, she has always had an amazing spirit and zest for life. She is a fighter, and her will to live is remarkable. Hugs to her major caregiver Jonathan. Words cannot express my thanks to you.<<

As the closing of her bio approached, the Parade of Honors chairman was in tears, I was in tears, Amanda was in tears, and I don't think there was a dry eye in the room. Zoey received a standing ovation from the very large crowd that gathered. She truly enjoyed seeing her old friends and meeting lots of new ones.

After her well received trip to Atlanta, this past summer Jonathan once again traveled to Montana with his crew. Zoey loved the idea of going on her hikes again and knew just how to maneuver her wheels around all the rocks and crevices that might have made her get stuck. She actually did a 6 mile hike in them wheels and was livin' high on life and the Montana sunshine.

We are now here in October and a phone call from Jonathan told me that Zoey's other rear leg is now about 95% unfunctional. She couldn't get up and the leg seems to be going the way of the other, dead. So another tearful discussion took place and it was decided that we would not make her into a two legged dog, even though Jonathan said he actually saw her walk a few steps on her front two legs with no help from her rear (almost like a handstand), talk about determination. I tearfully talked to Zoey to tell her how much I love her, and she will always be my baby girl, and no other will take her place in my heart, as she is my spirit and my soul.

The final decision that we will ever make about Zoey was made on October 26, 2009 to let her cross to the bridge where she can be a whole dog again; to leave this life with that sparkle in her eyes and the dignity in her spirit that we all know she will carry with her forever. Here is Zoey in her favorite spot; in the arms of one of her best friends and caregiver, Jonathan. Even though she loved Jonathan dearly, I really think her heart belonged to Amanda.

MBIS, MBISS, MBPIS, National Select, Am/Can Ch. Eclipse Envy of Sporting Field ---11/18/2001-10/26/2009

The light of my life, the heart of my heart, the soul of my soul, Goodbye sweet girl, I'll always love you.