Zöe died the other day, peacefully, and at home. The vet thinks her pancreas gave out; there were indications of intestinal bleeding. I don’t know her exact age. According to what I was told when I adopted her she had to be almost 14 when she died, but I think she was a few years older. That’s a good age for a wire-hair fox terrier.
There are starting to be subtle shifts in what was a pack of three, now a pack of two. My mind has stopped saying “me and the dogs” and is beginning to think, “Bronco and me”. He, on the other hand, perhaps feeling forsaken, seems to be giving up his alpha role.
When we go for our evening walk now he trots calmly along on my left instead of taking a position in front, protecting his women. Zöe always walked behind the two of us. The neighbors joked that I had a “fast dog up front and a slow dog behind”. Little children would ask if they could "pet the doggies". When I explained “the little one is the mommy and the big one is the baby”, the kids sometimes didn’t understand why he was bigger than his mother. Bronco’s father must have been near the conformation limit for a Fox Terrier, although his siblings took after Zöe in size.
When I adopted Zöe she was a refugee from a puppy factory and was pregnant. I didn’t know that at the time. The night she whelped I was busy with a long-distance deal so I put her in the bathtub to do what she had to do. I heard an anguished yelp while I was telephoning. When I ended the conversation I checked on her. She was sitting in the bathtub, looking up at me, and the top of a little black head was just visible between her front legs. It was Bronco, first out. There were five puppies, two males, three females. It was her last litter so I am pleased that she was allowed to keep one of them.
It came time to chose who we would keep and I let Zöe take one back to her dog box. It was Bronco. Later, when he was five months old and a raging adolescent, I would have given him to you if you had said “Gee, I like that dog”. And I would have thrown in $600 to seal the deal. But he quickly became the light of my life.
Bronco is over ten years old now, getting to be an old man, and I’m grateful that Zöe was the first to go. I don’t know what she would have done without him if he had disappeared before her. She idolized Bronco. She cleaned his face every single day of his life. Even during the last days, when she was so weak, she would manage to give his whiskers a wash and a brush-up.