Life With Our Lovable, Awkward Pooch

When we brought Zoey home in September 2013, we didn’t know what we had gotten ourselves into.

My then-fiance (now wife) had been living together about two months in our apartment in the Long Island City section of Queens. One night, we were walking around the neighborhood after dinner and came across a dog park. Nothing good could come of that.

After admiring the pups of all shapes and sizes playing together, we — she — suggested going to an adoption center close to the area “just to look” at what was availble.

It took all of 10 minutes for us to find and fall in love with a shy, brown-orange dog who was about 10 pounds too thin. We asked to sit with her and she could barely walk — not because she was physically ill, but mentally.

It wasn’t until we brought her home a few days later — and followed by a week-long stint at the vet for kennel cough — that we began to understand she wasn’t shy, but more socially disabled.

We have not gotten her medically diagnosed and we don’t know what her past consisted of outside of knowing the adoption center flew her up from Tennessee where she was staying at a kill shelter. But spend five minutes with her and you’ll quickly learn something is not right.

She doesn’t look people in the eye, has barked once in the two years we’ve had her, hates to go on walks and hides when strangers come.

At first it was frustrating, as we felt we were doing something wrong, or that she was not happy living with us. But we’ve come to grips that our dog will never be the life of the party, nor will she be one that wants to spend hours chasing squirrels in the backyard or jumping in the snow.

But we’ve also learned that that’s OK.

Our Zoey getting ready for bed.

It saddens us, but it’s also taught us a level of love that neither of us had experienced. Sure, we had dogs growing up — she having several — but we were never the ones those pups depended on. Now, though, we’re her everything, and with her disability — we’ve self-diagnosed that she may suffer from Canine Dysfunctional Behavior — it makes us that much more important in her life and our’s.

Our daily routine consists of picking her up to go out three times a day from our fifth-floor apartment and to get into bed (she weighs 30 pounds), bringing her water and food on the couch (she’s too shy to eat alone on the floor) and comfort her when she hears a foreign noise.

She often struggles with doing her business because she’s panicked to go back into our apartment building. It takes everything we have not to yell when she pees on her tail or sits down in her poop because we know she can’t help it.

While it saddens us that she has these phobias, it also warms our heart that we’ve given her a chance she was not afforded to earlier in her life (we adopted her just shy of her second birthday). That may sound selfish, but that love is felt both ways.

We don’t know her story, but we believe she had a “forever home” that couldn’t look past the issues she has and decided to try their hand with another dog.

Their loss has become our gain.

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