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August 31, 2009

A Hoodie for Zoie

The Humane Society of the United States

Dog Zoie

Susan Atherton

By Susan Atherton

We don't know Zoie's life story before her adoption by current owner Florence Blum. We do know that Zoie was turned in to a shelter with a note from her owner, an elderly woman who had had a stroke and could no longer care for her.

Florence requested that her local shelter call her if a Chihuahua came in for adoption. She had recently lost her dog, a long-haired Chihuahua who had once belonged to a neighbor who passed away.

When the shelter called to say that there was a little black Chihuahua in need of a home, Florence headed straight down to the shelter. Huddled in a cage, 3-year-old Zoie looked scared and lonely.

Zoie went home with Florence and was soon enjoying the "good life."

A night to remember

Florence gave Zoie all the love and attention a dog could ask for, and it was returned one hundred-fold. But Florence's health began to deteriorate and after surgery on both hips, Florence struggled to walk Zoie at night. Her neighbors began to take Zoie out along with their springer spaniel Finn, who was elderly, and deaf.

Last December, just before Christmas, Florence let Zoie out in the yard before retiring. While in the yard, Zoie was attacked by four raccoons. Badly injured, she was rushed to an emergency veterinary clinic.

At the clinic, staff found 22 puncture wounds and claw marks on her stomach. Zoie went on antibiotics for several months, and did well, though a bite on one hind foot had injured a tendon and it was unclear if she would ever walk normally again. But she was tough and eventually did fully recover.

Caring companion

Not long after, a bad fall sent Florence to the hospital. The neighbors with the springer spaniel took in Zoie, who made herself at home, running the household and providing the ears for Finn. When Florence returned home with 24-hour home caregivers, Zoie provided happy companionship to both Florence and the caregivers.

Florence eventually had to return to the hospital, and afterwards went into a nursing home, rather than returning home.

Smiles for everyone

Living now with her friend Finn and his family, Zoie regularly visits Florence in the nursing home. The residents light up with joy when Zoie comes strutting down the hall, her little tail sticking up in the air. Everyone reaches out to pet her, and she enjoys putting on a show. Florence's first question is always, "How is my little Zoie?"

Outfitted for winter

Recently, Zoie received a gift from a friend of Florence's, a hooded sweatshirt from The Humane Society of the United States. Now, when Zoie trots down the halls of the nursing home wearing her little hooded sweatshirt, she draws a chorus of "Oohs" and "Ahhs" from residents, nursing staff, and visitors. Zoie will be ready for the cold weather when it comes this winter.

Now going on 8, Zoie continues to make Florence smile, and many other people, too. We hope she has many more years to love and be loved.
 
Susan Atherton is chairman of The HSUS National Council, and vice chairman of the Humane Society Legislative Fund Board of Directors.

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