The Adventures of Zoe, the Wonder Dog

zoezest2By Carrie Jacobson

Chapter 24

Zoe and Kaja run up the road, away from the yellow house where Zoe used to live.

They run around a curve, and stop, panting, behind a bush.

Kaja peers around the edge of the bush. She can’t see the yellow house any more, but she can smell it, and the scent of the man who yelled at them and chased them away.

She turns back to Zoe, and rubs her nose along the small dog’s face. She licks the little dog’s ear, and Zoe pulls in close to the big red dog, and Kaja feels the little dog trembling.

Zoe doesn’t know what to do. She’s come so far to this little road, to this neighborhood she knew so well and loved so much. She and Kaja have followed roads, crossed fields, forged rivers. They’ve faced danger, outsmarted people, and been tempted time and again to stay, to rest, to settle, but they kept moving. They kept walking and traveling and fighting, to get here, to this place that was supposed to be home.

And now it’s not home. It’s just a yellow house on a little road, a yellow house with strangers who yell and kick and hate.

The dogs don’t know what to do. And so they do what dogs do. They curl up beneath the bush and sleep.

They sleep, and they dream dog dreams. Kaja runs with deer. She races, fleet and swift and silent through the woods, leaping like flight, running so fast that winter never catches her, hunger never catches her, death never catches her. Zoe dreams, and in her dream, she’s in the yellow house, curled up in front of the fire. James is sitting in a chair, reading, and the woman is in the kitchen, cooking something that smells delicious. In her dream, Zoe is happy and warm and full, and everything is as it is supposed to be.

She hears the neighbor’s voice through the window then, and in her dream, she listens hard, and she hears the sound of James’s car in the driveway. And then she hears him talking to the neighbor, and in her dream she imagines she can smell his scent – and it is so real, so close, that it wakes her up – and she listens, and sniffs the air –

And she jumps up. She jumps up so quickly that she wakes Kaja, and the big dog raises herself up, and stares at Zoe, and Zoe barks, once, twice – and cocks her head and listens.

She barks again.

And again.

And then she hears it.

“Zoe?” the voice calls.  “Zoe?”

And Zoe barks again, and begins running down the road, barking, running as fast as her tiny legs will carry her, and as she and Kaja round the corner, the big dog sees a man running toward them, a man with dark hair and a beard and a huge smile on his face, and he sees the little dog and calls her name again, but  this time, tears have choked his voice, and he reaches Zoe, and bends down and picks her up in both hands, and holds her close to his face and says her name, again and again and again.

Zoe is wagging and wriggling so hard that James has to hold her tight, and he presses his face against her, saying her name again and again, and the little blind dog licks his tears away, and snuggles tight as she can against the man she loves.
The End


James Dunning took Zoe and Kaja back to the house he and his wife were sharing with her mother.  If we’re going to stay here, he told her, these dogs are staying with us. Susan’s mother finally agreed. It turned out that she wasn’t as allergic as she’d led them to believe.

Soon enough, Susan’s hours picked back up, and James started a new job at Orange Regional Medical Center. By the start of 2010, he and Susan were able to give their renters notice, and move back into the little yellow house.
Now, they were four: James and Susan and their two dogs, Kaja and Zoe.

A note to readers:

The animals in this story are based on our own animals. Zoe actually is a blind lhasa apso. Our daughter got Zoe from the Connecticut Humane Society, and we ended up taking her a few years later. Zoe is about 12, we think. She is a fierce and loving little dog, happy and sweet but serious about her role as a guardian, blind or not.

Kaja is based on our big red German shepherd-chow. We got her as a puppy, from the shelter in Westminster, Maryland. Kaja is about the smartest, most noble dog ever. She’s 13, and arthritis is taking a toll on her, but she’s still happy to greet every day.

Loosey was a wonderful cat of ours, who was killed by a coyote. She was a smart and sweet and funny cat who loved the woods and the sun and the big, broad outdoors. I wrote this story in her memory.

Thank you for reading.

Carrie can be reached at

Zoe, asleep on the couch; Loosey, beneath the couch

Zoe, asleep on the couch; Loosey, beneath the couch


The real me, with the real Kaja and a painting I made of Kaja

The real Zoe

The real Zoe


2 Responses to “The Adventures of Zoe, the Wonder Dog”

  1. kate Says:

    This was a wonderful story, Carrie. I know the roads you were talking about, but then you lost me when Zoe got hit by the car. When they resumed their trip, I couldn’t tell where they left Rt 211. I grew up near Carboy Rd.

    Thanks for writing this. It was always the first article I read.

  2. boopster1031 Says:

    A beautiful story! I waited each week for the next chapter. Many years ago after my marriage broke up, I had to give our Shih-Tsu who we had for 12 years to a relative for keeping. The last night in our home my daughter & I slept on the floor (all furniture had been moved) just to be with Pebbles one more night. He died within the year – I’m sure from a broken heart. Twenty plus years later, I still can picture him & love him as though it was yesterday.

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