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The American Eskimo Dog breed often is misunderstood due to their nature. Too often, this leads to them being given away or put into a shelter. Zoe was in a shelter after a bad home life. Our newest girl, Marshmallow, was given to me after her 4th home (at the tender age of 7 months) when the girlfriend didn’t like her. With any dog, learn about the breed and the individual before bringing them home. If that isn’t possible, at least give them a chance to blend into your family.


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Zoe, American Eskimo Dog of my Heart: A Tribute to Zoe

Zoe, American Eskimo dog who won my heart at first sight and continued to amaze me.



A Tribute to Zoe first appeared in ChristmasCountryMom in September, 2014. I thought it fitting to include it here, too.  Please feel free to comment after reading and if you’d like to share your pet’s story, I invite you to send it to me.  If you’d like your story published on my website, just let me know and please include any pictures you might have.Our fur and feather companions are quite important to us.  Please feel free to share Zoe’s story with others and encourage strong bonds between pets and their people.


American Eskimo farm dog

Zoe walks quietly beside me on our daily outing to check out the farm animals.  Her sparse white fur, once thick and too heavy for the Florida weather, stands up as she growls when the rooster comes closer than she wants.  He chooses to walk away, more out of habit than fear, and we continue our walk.  She used to walk out a bit more, as if needing to protect me, but now stays close, knowing that the goats will find her an easy target if she is not close by.

I make every effort to ensure that she keeps her confidence, although at her age, it’s more from me than her capability.  Her age shows, but more from the cancer that is trying to pull her from me, than from the years themselves.  Zoe is very sick now, but 10 years ago when she came into our lives, she was a young, energetic, and terrified little white fluff.I was helping with rescues by offering training rehab to help with placement.

Zoe, purebred American Eskimo dog, claimed quite a rough start in life.

American Eskimo in need of rescue….

Jackie called, begging me to help with a miniature American Eskimo dog.  She had been in the shelter for her time allotment, and no one could handle her.  Jackie didn’t think she was actually vicious, but rather very scared and therefore self-protective.  I trusted Jackie’s assessment, and arrangements were made for Zoe to make the trip via a couple of volunteer transporters.
Steve took the carrier out of his car and warned me,  “No one can actually handle her so I’m not sure how you will get her out.”  “Oh, we won’t worry about that, will we little girl” I said softly and snapped my leash onto her collar.  She was obviously extremely tense, but seemed to relax as soon as it was attached.  I thanked him for his help in getting her to us and went to our car.
Fortunately, my son had offered to drive that day as Zoe became an instant attachment to me.  She clung to me the entire 60-mile drive to our home as if I was the only safe entity in her life.  My reading was correct; she just needed to be able to trust someone without feeling fear or anger them.

 Zoe in her new home

Once home, I kept her on a leash which seemed to comfort her.  She stayed ever close to me, choosing to nestle close to my neck when I sat on the sofa and followed me around the house and outside as if she were attached to my leg.  She had decided that we were a heart-bound team.

The average dog has one request for all humankind. Love me.
—-Helen Exley

Other family members were allowed to pet her, but I was her person.  Weeks went by and it became increasingly obvious that Zoe was not being retrained for adoption; Zoe was already home.  She had found her family.  Other dogs would pass through the training process and be adopted out, but Zoe was not transferring again.

I knew that she had been abused as a pup, but still don’t know all the details.  From her behaviors, I have pieced together some probabilities.  At least one abuser was a man with a hat.  She went from calm and peaceful to a terrifying rage when she saw any man wearing a hat.  It took a long time to desensitize her to that image and even now, 10 years later, she reacts, though much more calmly, choosing to move closer to me.

Watch for surprise reactions

Another image we just chose to avoid repeating was a man with a belt.  She was lying on the floor by me one day when Devin took off his belt to change it for another.  As he raised it over his head (pulling it out of the loops), Zoe went from peacefully relaxed to attack mode and charged at him.
I don’t know if she would have actually bitten him; I grabbed her before she got to him.  His naturally calm demeanor helped greatly as he put the belt down and knelt down to reassure her.  The entire incident was a mere few seconds, but it gave us further insight into what must have happened to her in the past.  She calmed immediately, realizing that this was not the same person, but we decided to avoid belts around her as it was obviously terrifying to her and not something she would need to deal with normally.

Tribute to Zoe: She begins to trust others

Her confidence in people had obviously been shaken as a pup and it took many weeks before she seemed to trust anyone but me, but eventually, she became more comfortable around the rest of our family, beginning with my oldest son, Devin.  That turned out to be quite helpful when the 2004 hurricanes came through. We lost part of the roof with hurricane Frances, and then Hurricane Jean came through, causing much greater damage to an already weakened structure.
Zoe was by my side, not rattled by the hurricanes themselves, as long as I was there.  We stayed for a few days but decided we needed to get the kids to a motel when mold began growing.  Devin stayed at the farm in a camper to keep track of all the animals.  I made the very tough decision to leave Zoe with him, along with the other dogs and animals.  I trusted Devin completely but hoped that Zoe would also.
Thankfully, she was able to understand and adjust.  She was always very happy to see me on our visits but was relaxed and comfortable when we left again.  Our lives were in limbo for the next 8 months, and Zoe not only remained with Devin on the farm but was actually able to form a closer bond with him than she had when I was there.  She still considered me her person when I was there, but he was her backup when I was gone.  I consider that a huge achievement!

Confidence builds

Devin used his time with her to find some of her many talents.  With all of the damage, rats became an issue in the feed room.  Zoe was up for the task of keeping them away for the simple reward of a “good dog, Zoe” and a piece of cheese!  As she gained self-confidence, she rose to the pack leader status and helped Devin keep harmony on the farm.  The extra responsibility seemed to help her confidence even more, and she grew mentally and emotionally into quite a companion.
We decided to sell our damaged farm and buy another, this one larger and a little further from the coast.  After many months, we were finally all together and Zoe was able to follow me around as we investigated our new home.  She slept on our bed, as she had before, but was always up early in the morning with me, enjoying her new home life.

Zoe’s skills help her confidence

She developed new skills on our larger farm and thoroughly enjoyed each day at my side.  Keeping free-ranging chickens in their allotted areas, convincing goats to stay on their side of the fence, and keeping snakes away as we moved through the fields, she was full of energy and loved the outdoors.  Once inside, she’d stay next to me as I progressed through our house chores, always watching to stay within sight of me.
One friend noted that such attentiveness would never work for her; I replied that Zoe and I were just buddies that enjoyed our every moment together.  She seemed to know which direction I was heading next, almost before I did.