2001 - 2011
Zia came to me as a bounce. She had some space issues, and since I'd always had non-cat-friendly greyhounds, I was ready to accept the challenge of another who might require some special attention. She was strikingly beautiful, after all—black and copper brindle, with eyes so piercing she reminded me of an African painted dog. Those eyes told me she had a sense of humor, too. There was a sparkle in her eyes that I couldn't resist.
She and my Isabeau loved each other right away. The first time they met, in my backyard, they did a complete tour of the perimeter, and Isabeau showed her all the interesting spots, including the "secret" digging hole behind the shed. My other greyhound, Geordi, loved Zia, too, though Zia was totally smitten with Isabeau, the obvious Alpha of the pack.
In her first months with me, Zia had a "happy tail." In fact, she wagged so hard and often, she would make her tail bleed, and there were times I feared we might have to have the tail removed! (We managed a compromise on the tail, and she kept it.) Always outgoing and friendly, Zia was a great "ambassadog," good at meet-and-greets or any other social space. What I didn't realize was that Zia was also quite suspicious—watchful—about people as well as non-greyhound dogs. She did have space issues, and didn't want anyone, human or dog, near her face.
So we worked on that. Over time, she forgot about those space issues, at least where people were concerned. In the beginning, she would growl at me if I approached her face while she was lying on "her" loveseat. Over time, that changed. What made me happiest is that, during the last few years of her life, she would lie with her head under a pillow, and when she heard me coming, she wouldn't bother to move her head from under the pillow, but would raise a leg to expose her belly for petting. That was trust.
Zia did have a sense of humor, and she made people laugh. She was selfish with toys, though I don't believe she ever hurt a dog over a toy. She would take the first opportunity to get a toy from another dog, and if we were at home, she would take the toy to my study, where she collected everything that seemed important to her. The study could make visitors laugh with the number of toys that could end up there. Zia loved tearing up cardboard, but it had to be in the study for her to enjoy a good cardboard-killing. Now and then she would find some "treasure" on a walk—a plastic milk bottle or a cardboard box—and decide it was important enough to bring home. I always loved seeing the look on drivers' faces when they broke out into a laugh, seeing her carrying her treasure in her mouth, sometimes walking that way for many blocks. When we got home, she was quite impatient to get the door unlocked and open so she could take the treasure to—you guessed it—her study, where she would then tear it to pieces.
Of all my greyhounds, Zia (that's Jadzia to Trekkies) came the farthest and learned the most. She tried to exercise patience with non-greyhound dogs, and for some years was good friends with a Golden Retriever, Tanna, despite their very different temperaments. She not only learned to trust people, but she also learned to ask for petting, something she had no clue about at first. The last couple of years of her life, she would actually come to me and put her head in my hands for a good face-scrubbing. I believe the turning point in her life was a nine-month period when she was an only dog, after first Isabeau and then Geordi went to the rainbow bridge, and before Buddha came to live with us. As an only dog, Zia could choose where to go during our twice-daily walks, and she definitely had opinions about where the best places were. I began to call her The Navigator then, and it was a job she kept for the rest of her life. During this time, she seemed to finally understand that I really cared about her, that I wasn't just a caretaker. I could read that growing affection by the way she closed the distance between us. She physically stayed with or near me most of the time.
Still, she adored Buddha when he joined us. She was happy to tell him what to do, and he was happy to be told. They were often very funny together as well. Zia could get jealous of Buddha when she thought he got too much attention, for instance when he would spin around the dining room, excited to get ready for a walk. Zia was either jealous of the attention he'd get, or she thought such outrageous spinning was undignified: she would give him a little growl, catch my eye to get my attention, and then slowly walk around in the same circle he'd been spinning in, as if to demonstrate how a dignified dog goes in a circle.
From fiercely independent to trusting and loving, Zia made an impressive journey in her life. With her outgoing ways, her habit of looking you right in the eye, her joy in play, and finally her trust and devotion, her personality filled a big space that leaves a big void now that she's gone. She will always live in my heart.