Saturday, September 8, 2012

An Ode To A Good Dog

Warning: Tissues May Be Required Beyond This Point

My heart has broken into a thousand pieces. It's not broken because of any trouble between me and my honey.  Believe me, he is running around with duct tape and crazy glue trying to repair the damage as best and as fast as he can.  No, my heart is in tatters for the love of a good dog.  We had to have my beloved pup, Roxy, put to sleep this week to keep her from suffering any further from the ravages of late stage bone cancer.

Me with my "first born"
 when she was only six months old.
It's amazing how much you can love a pet.  A co-worker, who'd heard about my loss, described her dogs as her fur babies.  I guess that makes sense.  My mom referred to my and my brother's dogs as her granddogs, at least until my brother bestowed her with a non-furry grandchild.  I've often told people that I had to run home to let my baby out or take my baby to the vet.  For all intents and purposes, especially since I haven't had any kids of my own yet, Roxy was my child.

To make matters more interesting, my dog child thought she was a human.  From the beginning, Roxy acted like she was entitled to the same rights and privileges as everyone else in the family.  If the rest of us were eating dinner, she would wait patiently next to the table until my mom (Roxy's pigeon) would make a small plate of whatever we were having for dinner.  Yes, I know.  I raised a very spoiled pooch.  I don't care if you disapprove.  She was my dog child and I raised her as I saw fit.


A common sight:
Roxy with her head on a pillow, hogging most of the bed
My brother's dog, Nattie, had a bad habit of sneaking onto the bed at night after everyone had gone to sleep.  Roxy took that idea to a whole new level.  One night, when she wasn't very big at all, she dragged her blanket and her favorite toy (a small teddy bear) into my mother's room and whined until Mom picked her up (blanket, bear, and all).  She did three turns on the pillow next to my mom, plopped down, and promptly went to sleep in a matter of seconds.  So, there was my mom laying next to a puppy with it's head on a pillow, a teddy bear tucked in its paws, and a blanket down by her feet.  What else could Mom do?  She tucked the dog in under the blanket and gave her a kiss goodnight.  Roxy spent the next eight years sharing the other half of the king-size bed with my mother.  She got tucked in and kissed goodnight at bedtime every night.

She could make this chair recline and rock whenever she wanted.
And, yes, that is a dog sitting in a leather recliner.  That was HER chair!
Bedtime was not the only time Roxy showed her humanity. She also sat in chairs, on couches, and in recliners like a person.  Once when an unexpected knock at the door forced my brother to leave the kitchen table, he came back to find Roxy sitting in his chair and eating neatly off his plate.  Any other dog would have knocked the plate to the floor and chowed down.  Not Roxy. Such poor behavior would have implied that she was a dog, not a person.  She knew she was entitled to eat at the kitchen table, so she sat in a chair to do it.  Roxy even had her own chair in the living room.  After my dad died, no one in the family would sit in his big leather recliner.  Too many memories, I guess.  Roxy had no such issue.  Within a few months of her arrival, she had claimed the recliner as her own since it was an available and comfy seat from which she could watch television with the rest of the family.

That's one big dog!
Roxy was half rottweiler and half bull mastiff, or as I used to tell people half big and half bigger. By two years old, she was almost three feet tall when on all fours and weighed one hundred twenty pounds. When she stood on her hind legs, she could put her paws on my brother's shoulders and look him in the eye. My brother is 6'5" tall. 

Her size and demeanor made her an excellent guard dog.  Roxy loved to lay on the couch and keep watch out the front windows of my mother's house.  She would bark at any kid who dared to walk through our yard or anybody who walked on the sidewalk in front of the house or anyone who walked across the street from our house.  Basically, if she saw people anywhere near the house, she barked and growled.  

If a salesperson knocked on the door, she would run up and stand on her hind legs to see out the top half of the screen door.  Depending on the volume of the knock and the distance she had to run, she could hit that screen door with a fair amount of force.  If the last person into the house had forgotten to lock the screen door she could hit the handle and greet the salesperson personally.  Many a door to door salesperson or person with a petition on a clipboard decided that they didn't need to disturb us after all once Roxy had greeted them.  Any stranger we let into the house was screened by the Roxy security system.  If she thought a visitor wasn't behaving she would growl menacingly until they backed away or left.  She even nipped a contractor on the butt once when he was upsetting my mom with unexpected budget overages.  She didn't break the skin.  She just let him know his behavior towards my mother was unacceptable and that he needed to leave immediately.

"What's that, Mom?  Can I lick it?"  Roxy meets Squirt.
Despite her fiercely protective nature, Roxy was an excellent family dog, too.  She loved my nephew, Squirt, from the first sniff.  She was interested in him from the moment we first brought him home from the hospital.  She became his constant shadow.  I don't have a single photo of Squirt from his first Christmas opening presents where Roxy isn't right next to him helping with the wrapping paper or looking to see what new toy "they" had been given.  Roxy was so gentle with Squirt and infinitely patient.  That child pulled her ears, her tail, her fur, her everything when he was growing up and she never so much as growled at him. 

Squirt could even ride Roxy like a pony without a single canine complaint!
Nine month old Squirt "riding" a three year old Roxy
Two year old Squirt "riding" five year old Roxy

One of Roxy's final acts of family protectiveness was giving my honey her vote of approval.  Roxy was already sick when my honey met her.  I'd warned him that my family had a very large dog and he was nervous about meeting her.  I was a little nervous, too.  Roxy had always been very wary of strange men.  She loves my grandfather, my uncles, and my brother, but whenever strange men were around my mother or I, that was when growling and nips on gentlemen's rear ends usually ensued.  When Roxy met my honey, we were sitting next to each other on the couch.  The dog came in, sized my honey up and sat down, worming her way between the two of us before laying down on the floor.  My honey spoke to her softly for a few minutes, scratched behind her ears, and rubbed her belly.  Within fifteen minutes, Roxy had given my honey kisses and laid down across his feet (something she only ever did with family).  I knew then that I had a keeper.  Roxy, the dog who didn't trust strange men, had instantly fallen in love with my honey.

My honey giving Roxy some love
I can't really accept that she's gone yet.  I keep expecting her to come running to the door to greet me when I come home or to find her laying on the couch or in her recliner when I walk into the living room.  Being owned by Roxy, for clearly we were her people more than she was our dog, was a treat and a delight.  I've already talked about it with my honey and we're planning on getting a dog next summer when I'll be home for house breaking and puppy training.  But, no matter how much I end up loving that new puppy, a piece of my heart will always belong to Roxy, my beloved pup.

Goodbye, sweet puppy.  I love you and I'll miss you.


  1. This must have been a tough write, Lainey.
    Though I had a healthy amount of respect for Roxy, I will not soon forget her almost knocking me down, though undoubtedly in puppy love.

  2. I'm so sorry you've lost your sweet girl. She seemed like oozed personality. My dog is my baby, too, so my heart breaks for you.

  3. It definitely took me longer than normal to write this post. I was making my honey nervous with all the sniffling and tears. He was a trooper, though.

    I will never forget the time Roxy met Princess Sassy Pants. PSP was taking shelter in my car on a rainy day. PSP hopped into the passenger seat and Roxy leaned forward from the backseat to say hello. PSP was unprepared to meet such a large pooch and was really startled. Roxy gave her kisses to let her know everything was cool. :)

  4. Thank you. It was the toughest thing ever taking her to the vet for the last time.

  5. Roxy was an incredibly wonderful dog and she will be surely missed. It was a great post, especially considering how hard it must have been to write.

  6. I feel exactly like you, I lost my Tommy through the fault of those who were his veterinarians they killed it (because only they interested un the money) Tommy being healthy.
    Always I will love him Tommy like your Roxy is special and always will have a very big chunk of my heart Love my Tommy Madrid spain on November 20 2002-on March 8, 2014