It was a conversation like many others before it. I was exchanging banter with my parents in Salt Lake City, the party capital of the world, when suddenly, they both snapped to attention, ears cocked as if detecting a disturbance in the Force. Zoe was near.
I waited a minute for the dust to settle after my parents burst like Looney Tunes out the back door, before following them into the back yard to find out exactly who, or what, Zoe might be. Zoe, it turns out, is an 8-pound, black-and-white Shih Tzu. Her owner has been taking her on nightly walks past our house since late 2012. As eager children wait for the ice cream man, so do my parents wait for their “Zoe Fix” each night.
We lost our own black-and-white Shih Tzu, Oreo, the previous summer. When you lose a pet after 12 years, it changes the way you live your life. You no longer come home to frantic scratching at the door or wake up to the fluffy lump at the foot of the bed, and you have to start cleaning your ears yourself. There are no more dance tricks, Santa suits, or excited calls to “Go get Stupid-Toy! Where’s Stupid-Toy?” On the other hand, you learn to live without the teeth, the pee stains outside your bedroom, and the self-righteous barking when all you really want at the end of the day is to relax in front of the telly.
Oreo now rests under his favorite tulip tree with his favorite towels, favorite squeaky ball, and a peanut butter sandwich. It was tough for my parents to re-adjust to a quiet house since my brother and I had moved out years before. But then Zoe appeared. My parents saw her and opened up the gate. She ran about 55 figure-eights around the yard before stopping very quickly to sniff Oreo’s grave, then ran another 55 figure-eights. Once she took a flying leap onto a pile of leaves that ended up being lily pads covering the fish pond, then came up sputtering and covered in green goo. Even after that ordeal, though, she’s been nothing but figure-eights and kisses. Life goes on, especially when you’re a dog.
To this day, I make sure to ask my parents if they’ve had their Zoe Fix lately. Apparently she has just returned from a long winter spent sunbathing in Mesquite. Now it is time to begin a new season of figure-eights and kisses, and the little constant reminder that everything is all right when you look at it through the eyes of someone smaller and (presumably) furrier than you.