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RIP Zollie 2009-2022

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Ann and Zollie

On Tuesday, we lost internet for the entire day, so I just took the day off the computer.

Well, that was part of the reason. The other part was that on Monday it rained all day, so Ann, the dogs, and I enjoyed some quiet time listening to the rain. It was a good day to decompress.

However, our 13-year-old elderly dog Zollie did not enjoy it quite as much. He struggled on and off most of the day, coughing and spitting up some phlegm. Despite his medication, his failing heart seemed to be failing a little more than usual. Eventually, we went to the animal hospital, hoping that whatever Zollie was fighting was something that could be cleared up, but it was not to be. While his will and attitude were very much intact, his body was failing him. He had life left in him, but he’d be in pain and uncomfortable. So, we held him as he was put to sleep…

In 2010, before I entered Ann’s life, she was living in Omaha and on her own after her ex bf chose to date their babysitter (awkward). Between her already existing PTSD and that tumultuous event, she decided to get a PTSD service dog.

She had always been a big-dog type of girl, but her lingering injuries meant she could only handle a small dog. After searching, she found herself at a Humane Society kennel where she spotted a tiny dog with a big attitude, a foo-foo shitzu-pomeranian mix, exactly the kind of dog she never thought she’d own. The precocious little pup was keeping the rest of the other dogs in the kennel under control and at bay. She liked his toughness and confident attitude, so she took him home.


Zollie at Four Corners. He was always patient with his Momma’s photography.

Her new dog’s role was to help calm her when she she felt her anxieties building. So, she named him after a drug with a similar purpose: Zoloft; but altered it slightly to Zollie.

When I entered the picture in 2011, Zollie was already a well-trained and well-behaved little dog. He could sit through a movie at a movie theatre without making a peep. He could fetch her inhaler on command. If you made the whistle sound of a bomb falling he would duck under the nearest chair (one of Ann’s favorite tricks and a reflection of her sometimes-sick humor). He was so well mannered that you could put him in the front yard and he wouldn’t wander away, even if dogs walked past the yard. He travelled well and rarely complained.


Zollie, Ann and I going camping in 2014. He really didn’t like camping (dirt, fires, slick camper floors …)

I wasn’t all that interested in having a dog when I met Ann. And, she warned me that Zollie hadn’t liked her last boyfriend. So, I think we were both surprised when Zollie and I bonded right away. Though he could be a little jealous when Ann and I kissed, he seemed very supportive of our relationship.

Zollie was a “pretty” dog, often mistaken for a female. The natural shape of his mouth always made it seemed like he was smiling whenever he opened it. He also had a very precise sense of time [by the end of his life, he seemed to know exactly when 6am (food and meds), 2pm (meds), 5pm (dinner), and 8pm (meds) was and he kept us on track by sitting in the kitchen and grunting when it was those times].

He and I did an almost daily walk to the mail box. I’d yell, “Zollie…. Mail.” and that’s all he needed to hear. He raced to the front door in seconds, ready to go. Needing no leash, he’d strut his way with me across the street and down the sidewalk to the bank of mailboxes.


Zollie posing at Washington State’s Stonehenge.

Over the years, as Ann’s health bounced up and down, I spent more time taking Zollie to the park, getting up early to feed him, and caring for him when Ann couldn’t. He didn’t shed, didn’t like to get dirty, hated fires, hated wood floors, ate anything we put down for him, and was generally just an easy animal.

He was aging well until around 2018 when a bigger dog accidentally stepped on his back. It gave him some kind of back injury (the docs could never tell for sure what happened), causing temporary (thankfully) paralysis to his rear legs. Over the next few months he improved substantially, but never fully regained his physicality. Still, he was a happy dog. A few months later, about the time Ann’s mother’s health turned south, Zollie began having heart issues. We thought we might have to put him down.

Instead, we obtained some meds that reduced the stress on his heart. The medicine gave him and us another three years together. Still, we knew he didn’t have too much longer, so we sought to get another shitzu-pom-mix dog, so that Zollie could help train the dog and Ann would have another PTSD animal. Of course, it so happened that his breed was near impossible to find on the west coast, so we located a breeder and off to Minnesota we went on a whirlwind trip.


Zollie and a young Betty Page

Well, that plan backfired, as the new dog, Betty Page, not only bonded to me instead of Ann, she was also a wild child when compared to Zollie. Add in the pandemic and our ill parents, and we didn’t have the time or energy to properly train Betty Page. With our hands and time full, instead of training and discipline, we punted and chose to get another dog to keep Betty Page busy. So, again, off to Minnesota we went, which is when Lizzy entered our life. This plan actually worked, as the two siblings from different litters bonded instantly.


l-to-r Betty Page, Lizzy, Zollie in Ann’s lap.

Zollie loved his new sisters, but was simultaneously aloof from them. This didn’t stop the girls from trying to get Zollie’s approval, but they also easily overwhelmed him. Their youthful energy often overmatched his patience. But, if they were gone, he always seemed to miss them.

Ann and I both agree that somehow, putting Zollie down was much more difficult and sorrowful than losing our moms, for complex reasons. Though we knew it was an inevitable day, it didn’t make Monday’s decision any easier.

Grief is a part of life, but that insight doesn’t make it hurt any less. Ann summed it up best ….  “damn dogs”.



12 Comments on “RIP Zollie 2009-2022

  1. Mark

    Thanks for sharing that story and sorry for your loss. The last two words are very true.

  2. Joe Kloepper

    So sorry for your loss. We had to put down our elderly Yorkie Momma dog recently and it felt like I was putting down one of my kids. She had been battling diabetes for years and had to get insulin twice daily. Her kidneys were finally failing,
    We get so attached to them. God’s greatest gift to humanity is a dog……………

  3. Bob

    So sorry to hear this guys, pets can really worm their way into your heart, esp one that was Ann’s buddy for so long.

  4. Srivatsan Parthasarathy

    Very sorry for your loss. Cats and Dogs really enrich our lives in the short years they live with us, and losing them is as hard as losing any other family member. Zollie had a good life with you, and if there is an afterlife, she will be waiting for you wagging her tail as always.

  5. colin peabody

    A very nice tribute to a loyal family member, who did his best to help Anne and you through troubled and busy times. Rest in Peace Zollie! Our condolences to you, Anne, Betty Page and Lizzie.

  6. Tom in Paris

    My sympathies to you both for the loss of your Zollie. He sounds like the best kind of dog to have around, and will certainly be sorely missed.

  7. Bill Garland

    David, I’m very sorry to hear of your loss of your good friend. I still have my faithful old girl Rosie a Shihtzu of 15 years. Since my wife passed early last fall, she has been my constant companion. I have been forced to sell our home to settle the estate and Rosie and I will be moving up on the mountain to my garage location. I hope she can adjust to living in a 5th. wheel camper but I hope she knows that she comes first in my life. Bill Garland

  8. Barney Goodwin

    Dave – Carla and I can relate. They are family! On April 8 as we were getting ready for the day, our 13 yo orange tabby cat Mr. Morris laid down in front of us and left us. Playing with him at 6 and burying him at 9 was very hard for us. we still have our Golden, Manteca (Manny) and our tabby at the business, Tex. They mean so much to us. We are sorry for you loss and feel it with you.

  9. David Eilers Post author

    Thanks for the kind thoughts all.

    Barney: I’m sorry to hear about Mr. Morris. It wouldn’t have surprised us if that had happened to Zollie the last few years. We kept waiting to be surprised, but he kept ticking along.

    Bill: It’s good that Rosie is hanging in there. You’ve been through quite a bit lately (not unlike us). I hope things calm down and you can enjoy life on the hill.

  10. Mitchell Carter

    Ah. I’m so glad I got to meet him last month. He was such a sweet little guy! RIP Zollie.

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