What was meant to be a fun family trip to Kentucky last month turned into a nightmare when my sweet Lab Zainey lost her life. I’m not going to go into details of how she died because honestly, the entire situation was so horrific for me and for Ben and I’ve worked very hard since then to work on mindfulness and my breathing and my emotions and not panic over the loss of one of my best friends because I have to focus on growing our human baby and not stressing out any more than I did the 24+ hours when we learned what happened and when she was fighting for her life at the vet.
Each one of our dogs brings their own light to our lives. When you’re in your mid 30’s with no human children, but you have dogs (or animals), they’re you’re children. And we are and were, for lack of better words to describe it, helicopter parents. We do everything for our dogs. We treat them like humans. They are our lives. We were not prepared in the slightest to say goodbye to our youngest dog, Zainey. And it hurts like hell.
I brought Zainey home on July 28, 2015. Copper was aging and had no interest in walks or hikes anymore and I wanted a dog I could take with me everywhere. And I did. I had ended a several year relationship that controlled my life (in an unhealthy way) and was so ready to get out on my own and nature was my therapy. I had finally discovered the real Colorado, full of so much to explore, and I was reminded that I didn’t need another human (ie. man) to explore it all with.
Zainey was just over a year old when I got her from the lab rescue. She was on her last day at a kill shelter out of state when the Colorado lab rescue saved her life, brought her to Colorado and fostered her in a home with other labs. I met her on a random July afternoon and decided to give her a try. That night, she fit right in with me and Cop. She walked right into our little apartment, laid in his tiny round dog bed and grabbed a bone, acting like she’d been apart of our family since the beginning of her life. She was the only dog that Copper had ever fully accepted into our lives, with seemingly no reservations. It was a miracle! And completely meant to be. She was so submissive with him and so thoughtful of his quirks. She just let him be him in all his weirdness. If you know Copper, you know that’s huge! He is the boss of the house, to put it lightly. Zainey quickly became my adventure partner. She made it up over 20+ 14’ers with me– mountain summits over 14,000 feet high. She conquered hundreds of trail miles. We’d get up on a Colorado morning, just me and her, and go hike 15 miles. Just because we could. I didn’t need anyone else out in the backcountry. Just me and my girl.
I miss her. I know we’ll never have another dog like Zainey. So fun and loving and goofy and with absolutely zero body awareness (aka: HAZARD). One time in 2016 she was so crazy at home she literally went nuts, jumped around my apartment, jumped on the bed, off the bed, ran over Copper and BROKE HIS FOOT. He was in a cast for weeks after that. The memories make me laugh. She was nuts at times! Such a fun loving dog. She absolutely loved her life. She lived up to her name “Zainey”. She was a very good girl, with a wild side. Ben loved her. And I really mean he loved her. Ben is really struggling with the death of Zain. She was my dog, but she was his girl, and to be honest, I know she loved Ben the most. She was so attached to him. Sometimes when he’d leave the house she’d just lay at the front door waiting for him to come home. She was dying on the vet table and we walked in at 5am and she opened her eyes for me. But for Ben? She picked that head up and looked right at Dad. She loved her Dad.
With the events of Zainey’s passing I didn’t noticeably feel the baby for a couple of days and every time I thought I’d feel her, I wasn’t sure. She wasn’t moving like she normally did. I got extremely dehydrated – probably from crying and not eating or drinking much and then puking and hyperventilating (stress is powerful). So I ended up in the ER in Kentucky the following morning after Ben buried our dog at his family farm. To say the events of the week were tragic and shocking and miserable are a huge understatement. It was one of the worst weeks of my life to date and all the while, I was worried I’d lose the baby, too, despite trying to just. remain. calm. I learned something that week… just because you’re not visibly stressed on the outside doesn’t mean your body isn’t wreaking havoc on itself inside despite how hard you’re trying to keep it all together.
Thankful to God, we got confirmation that day in the ER that our baby was healthy. Strong heart. Moving a little. I got some IV fluids, they checked my blood work (which was fine) and I was sent on my way. Since then I have really worked on focusing on the positives of Zainey’s life with us, though way too short, and not re-hashing that weeks events. We’ve spoiled our two dogs a lot… maybe a little too much, as Beckley now thinks it’s totally normal to get on the couch again. Oops. She will have to re-learn, again here soon once we really start getting ready for baby.
This past weekend we made it out for a hike and up to the mountains for a little bit. It was nice to get outside and out of our heads.
Baby is growing! And so is my belly. Slowly. I still am not showing in my work scrubs so when I pee 15x a day I remind people that it’s because I’m pregnant, not because I have bladder issues. Or maybe I do because baby is sitting so low I really think she’s just resting right on my bladder! I feel her move around a lot now and it’s reassuring.
Our hearts are broken, but we have so much to be thankful for and that is what gets me through each day without crying or stressing out about what happened. I have the memory of my sweet dog — and I have so many great memories. She truly was my adventure partner and our motto of “never leave the dogs behind” meant she traveled all over this country with me and us. She lived the life that most dogs never get to. I hold on so tight to the memories. And then of course the blessing of our little girl who will be 23 weeks in utero this Thursday. Christmas is coming and Dad will fly out to drive to California with me and the dogs. Beckley will get to play with my moms little dog for a week & Copper will get to walk around in the sun in a fenced in backyard and I’ll get to see my entire extended family together. Christmas season is a special time for me as I celebrate the birth of my Jesus– who undoubtedly helped me and Ben through these past few weeks of immense challenge.