Early this morning Zuzu and I were in the living room — she playing wildly with assorted toys, me lifting weights. Suddenly Tess came trotting into the room and cuddled up next to my big red Thera-ball, from which she normally keeps a wide berth. Since I was pressing an 18-pound bar, it was a particularly precarious spot for her, and I knew something must be wrong for her to squeeze in so close. But when I asked her, “What is it, girl?”, she didn’t offer to show me anything, so I kept on with what I was doing. After a few seconds, though, I realized Zuzu had stopped playing, so I raised up to look behind me.
I wish the camera had been close by, because it was one of the sweetest scenes I’d seen in a long time. Big little Zuzu, the giant 9-month-old, was comforting Tess — lying beside her looking into her face with her big puppy paw resting on Tess’s foot. They stayed in that position until I’d finished working out. I started to go for the camera but knew they’d follow me, so you’ll just have to picture it.
When I finished, I went into the kitchen and told John how Zuzu had been consoling Tess, but I couldn’t imagine what it was about. He knew the answer — he’d had an extensive sneezing attack, and the only thing Tess fears more than John sneezing is thunderstorms. Actually, they rank about the same.
Poor Tessie is phobic. Most of her phobias wax and wane with time, but the sneezing thing has been lifelong, as well as storms and the vacuum. (Oddly, if I sneeze, she runs to me to see if I’m OK. If her dad sneezes, she usually high-tails it out the doggy door, even if she has to run from the living room past John in the kitchen to get out. So this morning was a deviation.) That’s a sidetrack. The point is that dogs love each other.
When Trudy had to be put down, Toby grieved deeply. For two weeks, she wouldn’t get up in the mornings, even for breakfast, and food was definitely a motivator for her. It’s been almost two years since Toby’s been gone, but a couple of days ago, I mentioned her a little too loudly within earshot of Tess, and Tess’s eyes got wide, her ears shot up and she briefly looked for her older sister. Broke my heart.
Though they look quite a bit alike, Tess and Zuzu have totally different personalities. Tess, the thin, blonde, picky eater, has always been a worrier, and as such, she acquired prematurely gray hair around her mouth when she was quite young. Now at 6, she has a gray goatee like her human dad. She’s skittish about other dogs but loves human company. She adores babies (especially before they’re very mobile) and loves our 5-year-old grandson, Jude, but doesn’t particularly want to be near him when he’s awake.
When he spends the night, though, she guards him all night long.
Zuzu, on the other hand, is a big gallumphing girl who loves everyone, man or baby or beast. Jude is her best friend — they have a fort together in the bamboo at the side of our house — and if the babies are within reach, she’ll lick them silly. We often think she’s Toby reincarnated or at least channeling her. She “talks” loudly, especially when we come in after being away; eats almost anything, including salad and cardboard; and can’t rest until she’s used her big paddle feet to empty the large water trough in the laundry room. (All of which Toby also did, bless her.) She’s still a puppy and could mature, but I don’t think she’ll ever outgrow her exuberance for life. I hope not.
The other day, when we were all worn out and hanging out after the World Cup heartbreak, 6-month-old Annabelle, who can sit up like a big girl now, had Zuzu’s tail and was flopping it up and down against the floor. Zuzu never even looked at her. She’s a good dog. They both are.