Dear Zoya,

Dear Zoya,

You never once licked my hand..

Being a puppy mill breeder for five years made you leery of happiness. You always acted as if you were just waiting for something bad to happen.

You would never bark in my presence. When I came home I’d hear you barking from the kitchen. But soon as I appeared you’d clam up, probably because you’d been beaten. Or maybe you’d been hit with the stream from one of those industrial water hoses the millers use to clean the crates with the dogs trapped inside.

In your way, you were one of the bravest dogs I’ve ever had. When something frightened you, and at first almost everything and everybody frightened you, you would run away. But you would always go back to investigate whatever it was that had you on the run.

You never once licked my hand. But whatever room I was in, you’d eventually show up. I think this was your way of letting me know you felt safe with me. At least that’s what I always told myself. However you always seemed uncomfortable lying just on the floor, almost as if you needed boundaries to define where you were allowed to be. So I bought enough beds so you had a place in every room of the house.

I remember the day you learned how to play. I think you were about 8 or 9 years old. We had a foster dog who just wouldn’t take no for an answer. I cried the first time you dropped your guard and romped with him.

I am still angry at the millers who robbed you of your birthright – that of a queen bee in charge of her universe. I am angry that we only had seven years together.

I have no idea if you ever realized you were loved. And I did love you, very much. I could always see the dog you should have been, had you not been so badly treated in the mill. You would have been a true terrier princess and should have ruled the world.

And I miss you. Very much.


  1. Kristen says:

    Zoya reminds me of my dog. Years of neglect really broke his spirit. I love what you said about how you can see the dog she should have been and she should have ruled the world. I feel the same way. It’s heartbreaking but we give them the best of the time we have together.

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