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Remembering My Third Leader Dog–Zoe

March 16, 2019


Once Again and Always, Remembering My Third Leader Dog–Zoe


(April 23, 2007-March 16, 2016)


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



A broken heart–ruptured atrial neoplasm–all too quickly and unexpectedly took away my statuesque and once vibrant third Leader Dog Zoe on this day (March 16) in 2016.  Her broken heart put another kind of break in my heart.  Hemangiosarcoma–the cause of her passing was certain.  Certainly, her journey to the “Rainbow Bridge” at five weeks before her ninth birthday made all too short of a life for a nearly perfect guide dog.  I try to push aside the remembrances of those last minutes of Zoe’s life, but these recollections are carved into the stone of my memory and will ever persist.  On the softer, textured canvases of my memory, I do try to imagine again the happier, brighter moments with my beloved Black Labrador/Golden Retriever.


Sometimes, I think that because Zoe was so good all the time that I do not have any humorous anecdotes to recall.  Her steadiness, perfect pace for me, devotion to me, ever willingness to work with complete attention–all made for smooth, easy days and travels through life from June 6, 2009 through this day in 2016.  Zoe’s consistency of superior level of guide work and her impeccable “off-duty” behavior are not the material for a funny biography, but are the ultimate goals for a guide dog.


How completely blessed and immensely fortunate I was to have Zoe in my life for nearly seven too brief years!  I hope that Zoe knows that my fourth Leader Dog–Willow–takes extremely good care of me also and that she works hard and loves sweetly to mend a substantial portion of my broken heart.


With these words and with the re-sharing of the following poem, I remember and honor my third Leader Dog Zoe.



A Loving Portrait of Leader Dog Zoe in Watercolor Tears


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



If I were a sculptor,

I would have chiseled

into a block of marble

a lasting monument

to you and your beautiful ways.


If I were a painter of canvas,

I would have re-created

your portrait as you always sat

in your princes, posture-perfect pose.


If I were a skilled photographer,

I would have captured your likeness–

mid-stride, your harness up,

your head held high and proud

to be in the lead.


If I were a painter

with watercolors …

oh, but I have painted you

a thousand times

with watercolor tears–

this portrait framed only in my mind:

the painful hours and moments of your unexpected final day,

the precious and blessed years

that you

generously and lovingly

shared with me.


Since I am not an artist,

I have crafted only words for you

during these past measured three years,

these last thirty-six months,

these fleeting 156 weeks,

these recent  1095 days–

without you

at my lead

or beside me.


To give tribute

to your greatness,

I could only dedicate

a small book to you,

dedicate this blog to you,

remember you

and thank you,

today and always,

at the highest altitude

of gratitude,

as I walk on with you ever in my heart

and Willow now well in the lead.



In loving memory of my third Leader Dog, Zoe,

who passed away three years ago

at 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, March 16, 2016,

at our home in Milwaukee–

Alice and Willow, my fourth Leader Dog


March 16, 2019, Saturday



From → Uncategorized

  1. I well remember this very sad and unexpected event in your lives.
    What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful dog.

    • Dear Lynda,

          Thank you for reading this post and taking the time to write a kind comment.  Please give your little dogs a hug from me today.

      Happy St. Patrick’s Day–Alice and Willow

  2. Susan M McKendry permalink

    Alice–Thank you for reposting this very beautiful poetic tribute to Zoe. I remember the poem, and I will never forget Zoe.–Sue

  3. Annie Chiappetta permalink


    A beautiful and heart-wrenching tribute to Zoe. Wish I could hug you~!

  4. Dear Alice,
    Please know that I am holding you close to my heart on this anniversary of Zoe’s passing. Such a sad day and a tragic loss! I pray that you will find peace in your own beautiful words about your remarkable third Leader Dog Zoe.
    Sending my sincere love and comforting hugs to you and to Willow,

  5. Paula J. Lumb permalink

    Crying as I read this once, and again. Such a depth of pain and sorrow. Such perfection and dedication within this Poem in memory of Zoe. Dogs, I believe, are God’s greatest gift to mankind. May Willow continue to help to mend the Zoe part of your broken heart, Alice! Thank you for this. Truly beautiful.

    • Dear Paula,

          Since I have been thinking of you and your family, receiving your comment today is precious to me.  Thank you for your lovely comment and for taking the time to read this post.

      With warm wishes and prayers, Alice and Willow

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