Saving Zoe Jane

This is the story of Zoe Jane, as written by her mom, Heather. Thanks to Heather and Bill for sharing their sweet senior girl with us! 

Our Zoe’s story started with a senior pup.  When my brother stayed with me, he brought his 11-year old girl, Powdy. I was not thrilled at first but agreed.  Wow – that girl melted my heart and became the puppy love of my life. She was the best companion and always up for an adventure and great travel partner.  She loved the water and even had her own life jacket for swims in the lake. We were devastated when she crossed the rainbow bridge less than two years later. My heart ached, and I have never cried so much in my life!

After a month of crying, we found our Gracie (nee Jasmine), a then 4-year-old Lab at the Hinsdale Humane Society, one of our local shelters.  She was owner surrendered after being caged 12-15 hours a day, skittish, with little social skills. It took time and lots of love to convince Gracie we would never hurt her and she was safe in her new home.

We love our Gracie and knew we had more love to give.  After months of building my case for the addition of a second pup to our lives, I came across ‘Marlene’ at the same shelter where we adopted Gracie.

I saw ‘Marlene’s’ photo and read her story (it indicated she was rescued from a Tennessee puppy mill) on the website. Her soulful eyes and story grabbed my heart. When we went to see her the first time, she was in the last kennel, of the last row, looking small and fragile.  It was late, and we could not interact with her, so we went back the next day, and brought her potential ‘sibling’ Gracie with us.


When they brought her out to us, you could tell from her eyes and weak body; she had a rough life, yet she welcomed the pets and wagged her tail in earnest. We also learned she was deaf and we’d need to find a way to communicate with her nonverbally.  Was this a deal breaker?  No way! It was an instant connection between Bill and me, and even bashful Gracie took a liking to her.  We were in love!  We adopted her, renamed her Zoe Jane, and brought her home!

I shared the news of our Zoe Jane via social media. One of her amazing ARC rescuers sent me a message. I’m so thankful that she reached out and adore her to pieces. I learned Zoe was named ‘Marlene’ after her beloved Marlon, who she had loved and lost. Zoe was part of the American Rescue Corps (ARC) ‘Operation Fall Freedom,’ an effort to save dogs from a deplorable, overwhelmed ‘animal rescue’ in Savannah, Tennessee.  During the rescue, ARC found and removed 82 dogs ranging in size, breed, and age living in filth and waste filled crates and kennels across the property. ARC found Zoe living in a 6 x 6 cage with six other medium to large dogs, her teeth were worn down, and a sore on her back. Despite living in such a confined space and lacking water and basic needs, ARC volunteers found her very dog- and people-friendly. ARC’s awesome contact with the Hinsdale Humane Society took a shine to Zoe’s beautiful face and asked to bring her into their program. That’s how Zoe became an Illinois resident and found her forever family!


Despite her bleak past, Zoe is a loving, outgoing girl. She has gotten stronger and more steady on her feet and loves being outside. On walks, Zoe is the neighborhood greeter, wagging her tail, looking for pets, and giving kisses to anyone she can. She even has a ‘boyfriend,’ a black & white Pitbull named Patches and pulls us towards his house or down the street to see him.  Zoe playfully ‘harasses’ the cat, taking her spot on the ottoman and like a ‘sibling’ good-naturedly taunts Gracie by intentionally blocking her entryway to a room or snuggling next to her (and mainly out of) the bed where Gracie was resting.  Zoe loves being near you, and is often found resting her head on her ‘dad’s’ chest or curled up by his feet.  She brings us so much joy.

Someone once said to me ‘why would you do this, (i.e., getting an older dog), you’re just setting yourself up for heartbreak’.  The question is – why wouldn’t you?  Every day is a blessing with our girls, and I wouldn’t trade their little graying faces for the world. It’s a reality – all our days are limited yet I won’t dwell on the negative, I prefer to cherish the days I have with these pups and soak up the tail wags, cold nose nuzzles, and puppy kisses.  Older pups are the best!  Here is to giving them the best years of their lives, they’ve given me mine.



Click here to see the full photo gallery from Operation Fall Freedom, where Zoe and 81 other dogs were rescued. 

For more information about American Rescue Corps (ARC):

Nonprofit rescues and shelters may apply to become ARC placement partners by emailing

Anyone interested in volunteering with ARC should email their name, phone number, address, whether they are able and willing to travel outside their region at their own expense, and any relevant experience and resources to: Volunteers will be contacted if there is a need in their area.

ARC publishes a list of each operation’s placement partners on Facebook once the animals are transferred, so anyone interested in fostering or adopting an animal from an ARC operation should contact these organizations directly to learn more about their foster and adoption processes. There are also many other animals – dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, horses, reptiles, and more – available through ARC’s partners and other great rescues and shelters around the country, so anyone looking to add a member to their family is sure to find the perfect match and save a life.