Note: For Zoe’s book information, please see this link)
Having raised Miniature Schnauzers for over two decades, we were introduced to Pit Bulls quite accidentally a few years ago. The contrast is quite stark, I admit. And there are a number of adjustments that must be made to accommodate these creatures, not the least of which is food. We currently have two Pit Bulls named Zoe and ZaZa. Though I never imagined it could happen, we have apparently become a Pit Bull family, and I cannot imagine that we will ever be otherwise again (apologies to our last remaining Miniature Schnauzer, Zeta).
Little Zeta is aging, and along with previous pituitary problems (common with Miniature Schnauzers), now has developed diabetes, requiring insulin injections twice daily and a special diet. She will occasionally romp and play with “the bulls,” but usually she prefers to sit and supervise, keeping the other two in line with how she wants things done around here. Not having yet mastered the use of mirrors, Zoe and ZaZa seem not to notice anything amusing about their being subservient to such a small animal.
Pit Bulls, a misunderstood and much-maligned breed of dog, can be the most loving and gentle of the canine world when they are raised with a decent person for an owner. But like any dog, they want to be man’s (or woman’s) best friend. So if you wish to raise them to be mean, they will be happy to oblige. Treat them with love and care, and you will be rewarded in kind, along with immeasurable loyalty.
ZaZa, the black “baby” of the family (1/2 Black Labrador) is less than a year old, but she has quickly surpassed Zoe in size and weight. Although still very much a puppy, she has earned the second half of her breed’s name. She bull-dozes her way though our back yard, apparently believing that one of her deep excavations will eventually make her an oil tycoon. She is like a bull in a china shop when she is in the house. And it is un-bull-ieveable what she can eat — including sweaters, brassieres, and shoes of all styles and sizes.
Far more than tall enough to ride every ride at Six Flags when standing on her hind legs, this black bull is happiest when sitting in my wife’s recliner — but only if my wife is also sitting there. She prefers to lounge in the upright reclining position, much like any person uses an easy chair. Heaven help my wife if the doorbell should ring. Disembarkation is not a well-considered, or even thoughtful, procedure.
But before ZaZa came on the scene, and after our precious Pit Bull Cheza died, my wife went on a search for another one that resembled her. She found a lady who had rescued one from an abusive owner, but could not keep her. So Cynde was elated to take Zoe off her hands. But of course dogs, just like humans, tend to have their own personalities. Zoe is certainly no exception. Although she comes running to my wife at the slightest sound or stirring she hears, Zoe somehow became my “lap dog” when I am in my chair.
I really do not know how that happened exactly. If you knew me, you would realize that I certainly would not have encouraged such an invasion of my personal space. Even our miniatures have rarely chosen to seek the warmth of my sitting presence and even then, only long enough to be thoroughly scratched in all the right spots (a ritual that Zeta still occasionally initiates whenever an itch becomes profoundly strong).
But Zoe the Wonder Dog never has simply jumped up in my chair with me. She makes her approach and rests her head on my knee, looking up at me with those patient and adoring eyes, and just waits there. And waits there.
By now certainly, she knows that I am going to eventually tell her that it is OK to join me, but she still ritualistically asks for permission in this manner. It is possible to out-wait her on this (something I occasionally do, eventually being rescued by the sound of my wife’s more interesting stirring). But most of the time, she wins.
So Zoe has become my co-writer. Here, you see me proofing some of her work. I keep telling her you never indent the first paragraph of a chapter, but she always forgets. And her spelling is atrocious. In the interest of fairness though, we have far fewer paragraphs with run-on sentences when she is at her post, as well as a much better flow of continuity.
My biggest pet peeve, however, is when I come back from getting a snack to find her in my spot. She sits there looking at the screen with that smug look on her face, shaking her head and making that “tsk-ing” noise with her tongue. Critics. I’ll say something catty like “Oh yeah? Well, at least I have opposing thumbs.” Then of course, I’ll feel like a dog and apologize.
All in all, though, Zoe has so many redeeming qualities as a collaborator that I simply cannot imagine how I could possibly get by without her assistance most days. She has proved to be incredibly invaluable on so many occasions, and always tries to go the extra mile to make things easier for me.
Incredibly, she seems to have this sixth sense when it comes to me. It’s like she knows exactly what I need at any given time, and she just brings it to me without my even having to ask her for it. Often, I find that I may not have even realized that I needed it until she pointed it out to me!
Because of the long and often late hours that I keep, my writing schedule can be quite demanding. I know that there are times when Zoe would much rather be sleeping in her luxurious pet bed or even in her kennel for the evening. But she knows when she is needed. And one of Zoe’s best qualities is that she can be incredibly flexible when the situation demands it.
Between her collaboration with me, being my gal Friday, providing appropriate responses to the doorbell, and running outside to warn away potential intruders, Zoe leads a very busy life indeed. But she is is nothing if not intelligent. She understands very well (and is try to teach me) how essential it is to maintain a work/life balance.
And a very important key to being able to accomplish that lays in knowing how to relax at the appropriate time. Like she is so fond of saying “It’s a dog-eat-dog world, and it sometimes get ‘ruff.’ You simply cannot work your paws to the bone all of the time. If God had intended for you to so, He wouldn’t have created naps.”
© Copyright 2014 R. K. Bingham, All Rights Reserved