The Story of Zoey Mojave

Weimaraner Portrait, Zoey

The story of Zoey Mojave began for us with the death of our Pointer, Choko.  Choko died in January.  He had lived with us for eight years, from the time we adopted him and he dove onto my husband’s lap for the brief ride home, licking my husband’s face and spinning in excitement as I strained to focus on the road.  In March, we drove four hours to meet Zoey, at an appointment sanctioned by the Weimaraner Rescue group which was boarding her at a pristine private kennel behind a Modesto suburb orchard.  When we arrived, the kennel owner wasn’t there but her assistant was expecting us. Despite the assistant’s pearl-smooth skin, she was graying at the temples and might have seemed a bit beleaguered, were she not so determined to do a good job.

“We’re here to adopt Zoey,” I stated matter-of-factly.

“Sight unseen?”

I nodded.

I can’t explain how but I knew from the moment I saw Zoey’s photo on the Rescue website that she was going to be our dog.  In that photo, taken through the bars of her kennel, she appeared empty-eyed, slightly thin, sad and a bit lost but not as tragic as some of the dogs I saw–or as our Plott Hound, Grecko, when he dons a pathetic face in an attempt to earn an extra scrap of meat.  Grecko and Choko grew up together and, prior to the Pointer’s death, didn’t spend a day apart.

I knew that the assistant’s query–“Sight unseen?”–did not refer to concerns about the Weimaraner’s appearance.  Bright yellow eyes, soft fawn fur.  People commonly approach us to tell us how beautiful Zoey is.  She is luminous like a movie star, or a monk.

But she is a Weimaraner.  And a Weimaraner has the canine equivalent of a MENSA-qualifying IQ, sufficient stamina to run a marathon and enough slight of snout to snatch your dinner before you notice that she’s near.

And Zoey was a rescue.  Had she been neglected?  Abused?  What sort of life had she lived?  Had her owners cared for her?  Deeply?  At all?  Would her behavior become predictable in time or had she suffered unrecoverable trauma?

Sweet was the word that caught my attention on the Rescue site in the sparse description next to Zoey’s photo.    And then: Found tied to the door of the shelter.

The loss of Choko was incredibly hard on our family; we really needed a Sweet dog.  We didn’t require a perfect dog but we neither could we handle a particularly challenging one, at least not temperament-wise.  I wasn’t even certain that we were ready for another dog but Grecko was sleeping all day and my husband wasn’t sleeping all night and while browsing rescue sites I saw Zoey’s photo next to the word Sweet. “We’re coming for you Zoey,” I cooed, even before I realized what I was saying.  Then I set to work on my husband.

“I’d prefer a Pointer,” he said, in a tone which did not invite discussion.

Tahoe Portrait with Zoey

Oh, the poor Pointer, I thought, to be compared to Choko, our ever-faithful companion and fellow desert sojourner for so many years.

Gently I pointed out to my husband the unfairness of such an arrangement.  Adding tactfully that Weimaraners and Pointers have similar traits…both are highly intelligent, agile, fast, high-strung, affectionate, demanding and rewarding (all qualities my husband loved in Choko)…after which my husband sort of…conceded.

Before he could change his mind, I filled out the application on the Weimaraner Rescue website.  A couple of days later, we were notified that they thought us well-qualified.  They did not think, however, that we would be allowed to adopt Zoey.

“She’s young and healthy,” they said.  “Most likely she will be adopted by someone ahead of you on our waiting list.  But one of our representatives will contact you about other candidates that might be suitable for your adoption.”

I was at a loss as to how to explain to them that we were already in love with Zoey (even my husband, by then, had succumbed to my cooing of Zoey’s name.)  So we waited.  In silence.

And two days later, received a call.  “We think Zoey would be perfect for you.”

“What? Wonderful!”

No one knew Zoey’s real name of course and by the time we met her I wasn’t prepared to assume that she could easily adapt to one more change.

We added “Mojave” a few weeks later when I learned from yet another volunteer in the Rescue organization that Zoey had been Found tied to the door of the shelter in a small town on the edge of the Mojave Desert.  The shelter was operated by the police department and consisted of a kiosk and several outdoor kennels.  The town had a tiny budget so rescues were held for only one week before they were euthanized.  No exceptions.  The Weimeranar Rescue group discovered Zoey on the town’s website but couldn’t arrange transportation north for her in time, so one of the police officers took her home because he thought she was too Sweet to die.  Northern California Weimaraher Rescue sent a car for Zoey as soon as they could.  They delivered her to the private kennel where we met her for the first time.  That morning, after observing Zoey in an outdoor ring with Grecko, the kennel owner’s assistant said, “I don’t think these two will have a problem.”

Zoey climbed into our car.  And slept curled on my lap for the entire four-hour drive home.

Shortly after we arrived, she pulled a roasted chicken from the counter onto the floor and nibbled at one wing.  We rinsed off the bird and ate it.

In the days that followed, Zoey embezzled a tower of toilet paper (she uses it to make confetti,) two tiny yellow blankets intended for a neighbor’s baby shower, a bottle of blueberry honey, three pens and an avocado.

Nights we put her to rest in an old overstuffed chair at the foot of our bed.  She shimmied over the top of the chair onto our bed and slinked up the mattress until she lay between us, silent as the moon.  When ordered back to her chair she pretended to sleep until we snoozed before she set out on the prowl again.

Dogs on the Ridge, Tahoe National Forest.2

Despite many groggy mornings, we gradually all became friends and eventually fell in love.  Even Grecko, whom I was certain would die of a broken heart after losing Choko and who was at first peeved by Zoey’s energy and antics, fell in love with her.  Now the two of them constantly frolic and Grecko is more vivacious than ever, it stunned me to realize one day.

My husband still mourns Choko but Zoey leans against his legs and climbs onto his lap and nuzzles him with the fuzzy tip of her head and leaps toward him when he walks through the door so he can’t help but love her and in loving her he is happier.

I am grateful that Zoey has completed our family.  She loves us, deeply, generously, exuberantly…and we her.

We recently traveled to the Sierras with Zoey but have not yet visited the desert.  We have been reticent to go, with so many perfect memories of Choko.

But we are contemplating a trip to the Mojave…

Author’s note:  We would like to extend our genuine thanks to Northern California Weimaraner Rescue, a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing Weimaraners.  NCWR provided pre-adoption screening of Zoey, medical care for her pre-adoption needs, and generous post-adoption support in the form of shared knowledge and experience.

Weimaraners, due to their abundant intelligence and energy, require acute supervision and a huge investment of love in the forms of frequent attention, affection, discipline, play and exercise.  Popularized in modern culture by photographer William Wegman, these dogs do not–without extensive training–sit still for dress up and portraits.  Please adopt responsibly.

56 thoughts on “The Story of Zoey Mojave

  1. What a beautiful touching story. I am on the verge of tears reading your story. [I am extremely sensitive when it comes to animals]. I am so pleased for you and for sweet Zoey. I pray you will have many happy years together. A wonderful heaven-sent gift. ♥

    • Dear Isabella Rose, Thank you so much for your generous and heartfelt response to this story. To those who see, animals are indeed a special blessing and a welcome comfort. Thank you for your kind prayer. Many blessings, Vivian

  2. We owe a great deal of gratitude to our four legged friends. They make our life whole! They learn our language, and forgive us when we struggle with theirs. They understand our hopes, dreams, fears and longings. Thank you for a wonderful post – you made my day beautiful…

    “You think those dogs will not be in heaven! I tell you they will be there long before any of us.”
    ― Robert Louis Stevenson

      • Our home is in escrow and should close on the 25th of September. We have begun to look at used 24 foot class RVs. We have a budget and will be towing our jeep. I have also started packing and sorting..So we are moving forward..Thank you for asking..

      • May God’s will be done in all of this.. First stop will be Yosemtie area as I have not been there. We have a wedding to go to in Ca in November and from there will venture north and be able to visit my son and his family in WA. I have questions such as laptop versus ipad for travel. What works for you?

      • I’m probably not the person to ask about travel technology…I take my cameras and a very basic cell phone for emergencies. Aside from that, I like that sense of solitude that comes from being technologically disconnected. So for my blog, I do all my posting when I get home. Are you planning to blog while you are traveling? Your plans sound lovely, may God bless and keep you on your trip.

  3. I am so happy for you Vivian he says, wiping a tear from his eye. It’s a story with a happy ending for all of you. Choco will always be with you in your hearts but it looks to me like this was meant to be. I look forward to reading how you all get along in the Mojave.. Much love 🙂

    • Dear Chillbrook, Yours is one of the comments that I look for, hope for. It is wonderful to be known by someone who cherishes as much as I, what is precious in life. Thank you for your kind response and for putting a smile on my face this morning… Love, Viv

  4. I still remember your post on Choko, and I am really glad that you now have the sweet luminous Zoey to fill the gap that he had left behind. She really is beautiful!! Glad to see the new post on your blog after such a long gap!!
    Hugs and prayers,

    • Dear Sumithra, It is wonderful to hear from you, thank you for writing and for expressing such lovely, generous thoughts. I am always grateful to receive a message from you and I am sorry that I have not visited your site in some time due to changes in my schedule but I am looking forward to catching up with your news soon! Love and many blessings, Vivian

  5. Such a good story from real life. I laughed, I cried, and I laugh again. I have an irish setter, the most adorable personality, and I am also secrately dreaming about a weimaraner. They are all bird hunting dogs, which I love…

    • I am delighted that you enjoyed this story. Bird hunting dogs are wonderful, with so much intelligence and enthusiasm. The Weimaraner seems a particularly keen and companionable breed. I do not think that you would disappointed…

    • Thank you, Peter! I am delighted that you enjoyed this piece about our little starlet. I haven’t been on wordpress much this year so I was just catching up over at your place. I’ve spent considerable time in the past viewing your featured photo and each time I see it, it still takes my breath away. That photo is as at least as striking as Steve McCurry’s National Geographic cover photo of the Afghan girl. Congratulations on such fine work. Hope this finds you well. 🙂 Warm regards, Vivian

    • Thank you for writing me such a nice note! I’m delighted that you enjoyed this story…I often do feel with this little Weimaraner that I’m in the presence of a star…so a movie does not seem far-fetched.
      🙂 Viv

  6. Looks like my 8 month weim Sheltowee which is in the prime of her chew up anything stage. I keep being told once past that they are the best. She has been a great hiking companion. The weim got my attention and I certainly could relate with the loss. It took me 2 years after my boxer to be able to move on to another.
    By the way….Love your sunset pics too.

    • I just popped over to your place and saw a photo of your weim, Sheltowee the tree-climber. I will add to those voices that are supporting you through the puppy phase. 🙂 Know what you mean about hiking, they’re really good about staying close and checking in often. Sorry to hear about your boxer, we were considering a boxer before we found Zoey. Keep us posted! Love your Red River Gorge photos.

      • Thanks. Glad to see you followed. Right back at ya. Hopefully you can stick around at least until the 1st. Your post made me realize I have yet to write one on Sheltowee and I think I’ll make her my September gallery as well. I have some great pics of her. Never had a dog that loves to strike a pose like she does. Its like she knows she’s getting all the attention.

  7. Pingback: Sheltowee | The Red River Gorge Of Kentucky

  8. My dearest Viv,
    This story stayed with me over the summer when I first read it. Zoey speaks of completion, wholesome love, trust and happiness. This first post after the break was surely written from that beautiful heart of yours. The line that shone out for me was “Zoey climbed into our car. And slept curled on my lap for the entire four-hour drive home.” Zoey’s home isn’t she…and so are you. With so much love…and for the miracles God handpicks for us. Sharon

    • Dear Sharon, It heartens me to learn that you share in this blessing. And I am lifted by the knowledge that you are replete with blessings of your own, the miracle of raising your son. The world will be a better place for such a tender-hearted mother! Zoey does indeed complete our family, she is pure exuberant love. The passage you mention is precious and still very relevant–we just returned from a brief trip to the Nevada desert and Zoey kept creeping from the back of the SUV over the stack of luggage on the passenger seat and onto my lap! Hugs and enduring love, dear one. Vivian

  9. Reblogged this on Mud 'n Feathers and commented:
    After our little dog died several years ago we didn’t have the heart to adopt another one. Too painful to lose them, but the lack of dog in your life is awful too. At my age, though, it just doesn’t seem fair to give a dog what might be a temporary home. What if I died before the dog – what would happen to it then? Anyway, I love dogs!

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