By Isabella Casella
From strutting down MPH’s hallways to gracing the school’s stage, Zoé was more than your average pup.
Michele Koziara, Director of Theatre and Dance Education at MPH, admitted that she could have used a toy dog on a leash in last year’s production of “Sweet Charity,” but decided against it. Since it was a production for the MPH community, she thought it would be nice to use an actual member of the community. Zoé was the only animal ever used in an MPH show, Koziara recalled, but she would have been invited back.
“She always had her own flare, with a scarf around her neck,” Koziara said.
Zoé made her acting debut when she walked across the stage in the opening scene of “Sweet Charity” accompanied by Jasmine Collins in the spring of 2017.
“What was interesting was that Jasmine actually, I found out later, was a little afraid of dogs,” Koziara said. “I didn’t know that, she was a little bit nervous about it, but Zoé was so sweet and kind to her. They bonded and were able to pull it off without a hitch.”
Zoé was very professional — and definitely not a prima donna.
“She did exactly what she was told to do and didn’t talk back,” Koziara said. “But she didn’t make any bold choices though.”
Backstage, the eyes of performers would light up whenever Mr. Leclercq brought the dog to rehearsal. Having Zoé join the cast was widely accepted by students. Zoé never lacked praise for her performance, and recieved many treats from performers and supervisors alike. To prove that Zoé was not just a pretty face, other teachers recalled their own Zoé memories below:
“Zoé and I became good mates as a result of myself and Mr. Leclercq carpooling to work for a while. On “Zoé Days,” I would be greeted by an excited Zoé, head hanging out the window, and tongue hanging out of her mouth as I walked to his car.
Getting in the car would require me to say hi to Zoé first, before Mr. Leclercq, followed by plenty of doggie kisses. In fact, that was our greeting — I would often hear Mr. Leclercq say, “Where’s Matt?” which would result in Zoé running from classroom to classroom to find me. On finding me, she would bound up to me and I would get on my knees for a proper Zoé welcome: by thoroughly licking my face!”
— Matthew J. Twomey-Smith, History Teacher
“Did you know that dogs can smile?
Until meeting Zoé, I was not convinced dogs could smile. Zoé held a fabulous memory for sense of smell. Through the years, students have given me different animal bones they discovered in the woods. These bones must have held a particularly interesting smell for Zoé. Often, while off leash, Zoé would come into my room and hold her head, ears, lips and mouth in a manner I can only describe as a smile. She would visit with me for several minutes of that unconditional exchange of love. Then, with great purpose, Zoé would seek out the box of bones, investigating each inch with eyes and nose.”
— Sue Foster, Science Department Chair
“Whenever I was around Zoé, I felt comfort, peace and a sense of calming. You instantly knew she was there to protect you and look after you. Zoé took away my fear of large dogs and always made me feel safe. I adored her loyalty to Mr. Leclercq, and I always looked forward to Fridays when she was on campus.
I enjoyed learning more about when Mr. Leclercq would talk about her as a puppy, show pictures, the latest story or adventure. She was a special dog and will be missed by the entire MPH community.”
— Juhee LaHaye, Assistant to Division Heads
“The first year I was here, every Friday Mr. Leclercq used to bring Zoé in, and it was the highlight of my day. I love dogs. My husband is allergic to dogs so we can’t have one, but Zoé was the most gentle, the most beautiful. She would come into my room, she would always think there was food, and Mr. Leclercq didn’t know where she was and here she is in my room! It was absolutely wonderful.
I missed that the next year when she wasn’t able to come. Then she made an appearance with Jasmine in the play. That was just so brilliant. I think the whole school community loved Zoé, and that’s really a testament to the dog she was.”
— Sarah Chhablani, History Teacher
“During the beginning of my first year at MPH (2013) our family dog passed away right after
my daughter, Leah’s, fifth birthday. She was devastated because to her, he was a best friend
and the first loss of a loved one she had ever suffered.
We had met Zoé on campus a few times, and I remembered how my daughter lit up when she was around Zoé. As she was a therapy dog, it made perfect sense for Leah to visit with Zoé once a week on her way back to her classroom after her Suzuki lessons. Zoé would patiently allow Leah to pet her and hug her.
That year, for Zoé’s birthday, Leah decided she wanted to give Zoé a card and a treat to thank her for her kindness. Bringing Zoé Greenie Treats became another routine that year. I think Zoé looked forward to it too!
I believe that was also the year Mr. Leclercq trained Zoé to “speak.” It was always amusing
to hear him say, “Speak, Zoé!” and then hear her bark in response at various times during
the day in different places on campus.
Another fond memory of Zoé was the next year during the Lower School Halloween Parade
when she showed up “dressed like a wolf.” She was always so calm and loving towards the
students as they would swarm around her with joy in their hearts. Zoé could make almost
anyone love her, even those who were unsure of dogs. She was so intelligent, loyal and
kind. We were all lucky to have had Zoé touch our lives in different ways and we thank Mr.
Leclercq for sharing her with us!”
— Erica Stark, World Languages Teacher
By Sydney Spector
Zoé was an integral part of the MPH Community, from appearing in school musicals, relaxing with students, or eating assorted meats from the deli bar that Mr. Leclercq took for her. She was often the best part of the day for students and often a much needed stress reliever. Seeing her gave students reassurance that everything was okay and life at school was as it should be.
Many students could clearly see how much Mr. Leclercq loved A dog is an integral part of family life, and that was what Zoé was to MPH Alumni whose highlight of their day was seeing the dog who came and made the life of students brighter. Whether it was helping the lower schoolers learn how to read or helping an upper or middle schooler through a difficult time in their lives. Since she came into Leclercq’s life years ago, she didn’t just manage to steal his heart, but the hearts of students, the memory of her staying with them for the rest of their lives about the dog who always made a student feel better on a rough day.
“When I was in 6th grade, we generally had French right after lunch. So, one day we saw Mr. Leclercq stealing an assortment of meats from the deli bar. However, we all knew he was a vegetarian so we weren’t sure what he was doing. We come to find out in the middle of French class he opens his side drawer whips out his bundle of meat, and throws it in the air which Zoé caught.” 一Lydia Kelly, class of 2017
“Zoé was an irreplaceable member of MPH, with her comforting and friendly presence making all our days so much brighter. Seeing her everyday gave me assurance: ‘Zoé is here and life at MPH is how it should be.’” 一Jengyoon Han, class of 2017
“So, one time we were in a class meeting, I was just sitting on the floor, Leclercq was there. Zoé just came up and started licking my face. So that was cool.” 一Max, class of 2017
“I was never good with animals, but Zoé was always really sweet to me. I remember in my 7th and 8th grade French classes Zoé would always lick my pants, which I thought was weird, until I realized a) how often I lay in bed in my day clothes and b) how many food crumbs there were in my bed. But Zoé was a delight to work with as part of the Sweet Charity cast. She was always really quiet, which was helpful once the musical started. And it was really relaxing hanging out with her before walking on stage to play my role. I get the sense that Zoé did not love being in the show, but she took one for the team every night she was on. And once she was off-stage, she pulled me so hard across the backroom where the pit band was and into Mr. Leclercq’s arms that I almost fell over.
I know Zoé really loved Mr. Leclercq and that he really loved Zoé. That was always very clear to everyone.” -Jasmine Collins, class of 2017
“I remember she would sometimes come into the French Classroom without him, as if to stop in and say ‘hi’ to the students in there and then go back to find him [Mr. Leclercq]” Alexis Wiggins, Class of 2016
By Riley Cappaletti
In the 10 years Zoé had been coming to the MPH campus, she became a great friend to students and faculty alike. She came into school almost every Friday, on MPH’s spirit Friday’s. She would go into classrooms and sit with students, and would roam the school by herself. She came so often that she knew and recognized individual students.
Sophomore Sarah Hogan said that she loved seeing Zoé on Friday’s because she knew that the weekend was close. Many students would agree with Hogan, because they always had Zoé to look forward to at the end of the week. Zoé was a friendly and familiar face to all.
Senior Brittany Grund was new to MPH as a junior in 2017, but Grund quickly saw that Zoé was a very important part of the community. Although she didn’t know Zoé too well, she understood that Zoé held a special place in the hearts of several students.
Bianca Melendez Martineau, a senior who has been at MPH since pre-K, described Zoé as just another student. She was so well-trained, she walked around like she was a fellow student.
Students from all grade levels have wonderful memories with Zoé, so here are a few to celebrate Zoé’s life:
“I had great memories of Zoé in my middle school French classes with Mr. Leclercq. I would look forward to every Friday because that meant you would have Zoé brightening everyone’s day by roaming around the French classroom. I will always remember all the tricks she was able to do and the fun I had with her.”
— Stewy Falso, Class of 2018
“I remember Mr. Leclercq would bring her into French class, and she’d lie down and take a nap in the middle of class. It really made French go by faster.”
— Will Kovarik, Class of 2018
“I remember when I was younger being greeted by her smile and wagging tail. She was such an integral part of the MPH experience for Lower and Upper School students alike.”
— Liza Bruno, Class of 2018
“I remember when I was in fourth grade, Zoé would come outside and we would play catch with her, and we would throw a ball and she would go fetch it.”
— Natalie Storie, Class of 2021
“I mean Zoé was just part of MPH. She was always very patient, especially when all the little kids would rush up to her, she was very patient with them. She wouldn’t get freaked out, she wouldn’t ever be aggressive or too much. I know she was officially Mr. Leclercq’s pet, but she really just became the school’s pet and everyone just loved her a lot.
— Sarah Smith, Class of 2018
“I remember the first time I saw Zoé on a Friday, I was extremely shocked that you could actually bring a dog into school. I thought she was going to be super misbehaved, but she was like an angel and all the little kids liked to pet her.
— Phoebe Ambrose, Class of 2018
“The year I came to this school, that’s the year that they decided animals weren’t allowed, but the year that I visited she was there and she was like really nice. I was in Ms. Thomman’s class and she came up to me and licked me in the face and then I gave her a big hug.”
— Genevieve Enslin, Class of 2024
“I remember seeing her in the hallways, and she always lit up my day.”
— Marina Cousins, Class of 2018
“I just remember Mr. Leclercq would bring in Zoé for French class every Friday for like four years, and petting her all those days, it was just so much fun.”
— Theo Eckert-Budis, Class of 2018
“I remember in Sweet Charity, she was in Sweet Charity, and it was a lot of fun having her backstage and onstage. She definitely stole the show in that first scene. It was a live dog on stage and it was pretty cool.”
— Carli Arbon, Class of 2018
“When I first visited MPH it was Winter Carnival and I was walking around and I see this man and he’s walking his dog. And it was a beautiful German shepherd, and it was just so sweet, and all of the little kids were just going up and petting the dog. I was there with my mom actually, and he told us that, he’s like, ‘I feel that if I bring Zoé, kids who are on the quieter side maybe feel more comfortable to come out when the dog’s around.’ And so I always loved Zoé’s company and presence in the school because she was there for everyone who kind of felt that they didn’t have someone to communicate with I guess. It was very neat.”
— Louisa Morrow, Class of 2018