For Zoey (from Laurén)

April 26, 2018 by NJPainter

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Zoey’s story, is my story.

All of our best moments, our firsts, our big life markers… they’re all shared.  We spent 12 impossibly fast, beautiful years giving and receiving from one another. We moved to New York City together, we fell in love with Barry together, we started a business together, we grew up together.

Zoey's first selfie

She was sensitive and empathic and sweet and smart and goofy and I am convinced she changed lives, either by winning people who were normally afraid of dogs over, or by reminding everyone around her that dogs are awesome and so, so fun to love.

When I went to the pound looking for a dog, a black mutt was the last thing I wanted. I wanted a golden retriever or a boxer… a dog with a look. But there she was; pathetic, scared and carrying a belly full of worms. They didn’t even bother to name her. She was the dog they had found in a pizza box on the streets of post-Katrina New Orleans.

I sat down on the concrete floor in a warehouse stacked with occupied crates full of dogs waiting to be claimed, she walked right into my lap and stared directly into my eyes with a look that said, ‘Get me the hell out of here. Now, please.’

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She rode in my lap on the car ride home from the pound as I gleefully called my parents and said; ‘I got a dog!’

Her first home was on Laurel Street in New Orleans, where she blossomed from a timid puppy with legs too long for her small body, into a dog who would stick her tongue straight into your mouth when she went in for a kiss and who, in a single afternoon, pulled every inch of upholstery and stuffing out of my only sofa, so all that was left was its wood frame and staples.

When we moved to New York, everyone told me that I was crazy to take her with me. That it was inhumane to move a dog to a city. Knowing we were bound together for life, I ignored them and flew ahead of her while I found an apartment and started my job. She stayed with my mom for a few days while I was getting settled and mom swears that Zoey did nothing but sit in the arm chair that faced the front door and stared at it, waiting for me to walk back through.

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Zoey and I spent the next five years living in Harlem, exploring every inch of Central Park, admiring the architecture of the Upper West Side, hiking trails in the Hudson Valley and watching the sun set over the park reservoir. We mostly did these things because we didn’t have money to do anything else, but, watching her swim in the river or throw herself into a pile of fresh woodchips or follow the sun spots around our apartment throughout the course of a day or lean in for a cuddle on the couch are memories that I will grasp onto as some of the best of my life.

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She was easy to have around, amiable, popular. In the cab ride over to my apartment the first time Barry came over, he said “I can’t wait to meet Zoey.” The dog he had heard about for five years and got to love for the next seven.

I joke that Zoey switched sides when Barry and I started dating. She loved him instantly and with her whole self. She loved me too, but Barry’s attention was special and coveted.

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When we go through the photos, we know she had a really, really great life. We took her with us everywhere we could; we indulged her and reminded her every day that she was gorgeous, deserving and that the rules didn’t apply to her.

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In the end, it was a 48 hour period that was hard to read. She was an easy dog who simply stopped acting like herself. What we thought might be some stomach issues or maybe even a lodged piece of food was a ruptured tumor inside her sweet, pink belly.

We knew the end would come someday, but we didn’t think it would be so fast.

There are a few moments in the last hours that I wish I could take out of the script but we’re thankful that whatever pain or discomfort she experienced was short-lived and that I was there to rub her face, kiss her feet and tell her how proud, grateful and lucky we were. We thanked her for her love, told her about all the friends she was about to meet and let her go.

Zoey was pure. Pure love, purely herself.
I swear there were times I caught her enjoying the scenery on a hike or staring up at us from her bed while Barry and I enjoyed an evening on the couch. She would purr when you itched the right spot. She would smile when the breeze was right and the sticks were good. She would clamp up when it rained. Dogs do talk. It’s just our job to listen.

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I hate every moment I was mad at her for chewing on my things, every time I tugged back on her leash because I didn’t want to go where she wanted to go or was annoyed when she preferred Barry’s company to mine (which was often). But I guess impatience and irritation are the kind of things that naturally go along with true love. They don’t always do what you want them to do, but they are yours to walk through life with; from the euphoric and fun to the drab and routine. And you choose to love them deeply anyways, just like she did with us.

Barry and I tried hard to be present with her. We knew what we had in her, we loved her fiercely and I find a lot of comfort knowing that her and I shared one glorious last year together while I got to work from home, give her long morning walks in Jersey City and tending to whatever she needed, whenever she needed it.

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I find this to be one of life’s most unfair truths.
I have spent more hours with her than any one person and while I can accept that this is the way their short lives are built to work, the reality that this portion of our lives is over, is heartbreaking.

Having her as my girl has been the joy and honor of my life.

Anyone lucky enough to experience the unexpected and intense love of a good dog knows, as I do, that we’ll see each other again. In my version, she’ll be the first to greet me.

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Week one.

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baby zoey belly
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A glass of scotch & my best girl.

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Best friends Gibson Pickles (left) and Layla Pancakes (right)
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Road trippin’ with Gibson
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Zoey with her idols, Obi & Roxie.
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Soul Sistas: Zoey & Rebel
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Cheek to cheek with best buddy Rex

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Boyfriends: Buck, Ned & Barry
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Moving day.
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Snow day in Brooklyn.

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Young & fit! (2011)
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Central Park, 2011 (thanks Lisa!)
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Bacon on 115th Street
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Ugh, Mondays.
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Rosenbergs!
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Engagement Party (May 2014)
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Zoey & Mum
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Zoey’s cabana boys.
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Life guard on duty.
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Zoey & the headless horseman

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Zoey gets tucked in.
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Zoey, the “therapy dog” who could ride trains.

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Zoey & Grandpa.
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Zoey burrito

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Yogurt, cause we can.

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6 Comments »

  1. Ugh. The tears are flowing. This is a beautiful tribute to a truly amazing animal. Love you. Love Zoey. ❤️

    Comment by Mandy — April 26, 2018 @ 12:22 am

  2. This is so beautiful – thank you for sharing zoey’s story and the incredible life you provided her and she provided you both.
    Xox
    jenn

    Comment by Jenn — April 26, 2018 @ 12:55 am

  3. The tears are flowing once again. Both of you wrote so beautifully and eloquently. Your absolute love for Z is shining through. You were so lucky to have her as part of your lives but I think she was luckier to have you two. xxxooo

    Comment by Connie — April 26, 2018 @ 1:03 am

  4. “Dogs do talk. It’s just our job to listen.”

    I am so sorry. Thank you for writing your history with Zoey and giving her a furever home.

    XO Jules

    Comment by Jules — April 26, 2018 @ 1:24 am

  5. Love. Loss. Pain. It’s all heartbreakingly beautiful. I’m so sorry.

    Comment by Sara — April 26, 2018 @ 1:41 am

  6. Oh Laurén and Barry, I’m so sorry. I know that precious girl was so loved and will be missed beyond measure. What a beautiful life you gave her. I’m praying for strength for the two of you in the coming days. We’re thinking of you 💜

    Comment by Jessica & Will — April 26, 2018 @ 10:57 am

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