April 7, 2012

A Rosie Outlook – In Memoriam

My friends teach me many things. Monty has taught me to be respectful of my elders and yet not lose my goofiness. Woobie has taught me how to lie stretched out and relaxed on a cool wood floor during the hot summer months. Paige has taught me how to sniff out adventure and grab every minute and run playfully through the woods with my happiness spread wide across my wild face. Roux has taught me to find joy in new friendships. And Tyson has taught me to walk tall, with my head up and enjoy the scent of a new day.

And then there is Rosie.

When we first met her I was a little shy. We were told she can be dog aggressive so Gretchen waited a year before we were introduced. On that day of introductions, I was slightly nervous to meet her but when she wiggled her little stump of a tail at me and smiled her lippy grin, I knew Rosie and I would be fast friends.

Rosie began as a dog we walked every day – Monday through Friday. We don’t do that with all our dog walking clients, but for Rosie it was a time to get some exercise as well as a time practicing being calm around things like cats and other female dogs. Soon, though, Rosie became a part of our family as she wormed her wriggly body into our hearts quickly and with everlasting permanence.

What Rosie has taught me is love. Yes, I’ve learned of love from many others in my life both canine and human, but with Rosie I learned that love just isn’t about hearts and unconditional commitments. It’s about time and patience, difficult moments and lazy ones as well. It’s about walking side by side and letting your bodies bump into each other or staring patiently at crows, counting the seconds together before you lunge and bark at them.

Love is about walking across a wide open field and just when the other least expects it, pouncing down into a play bow and then spinning wildly at the end of the leash hoping that your pal will join in. It’s about sharing a warm place on the couch or allowing your buddy to have the last snack. It’s about big grins and serious eyes. It’s about gray muzzles and floppy ears.

And it’s about being there in the most difficult of times.

The past two months of Rosie’s life have been an odd mixture of mystery and illness. No one has been able to put the pieces together until the last few days when Rosie’s decline became rapid and painful. We all noticed the differences — a shifting limp in the front legs, the inability to see a treat when offered, stumbling up the stairs, and most recently, yelping in pain.

The vets had different theories and most of them focused on her lower back. Rosie had been through a lot in her life — rescued on the side of the road after being hit by a car, reconstructive surgery of her hind leg, removal of tumors and lumps, and various other bumps and bruises. She walked liked she was dancing a jig and our favorite moments was when she lifted her leg to pee and both back legs raised up off the ground — a hand-stand pee. It was impressive.

So yes, that her lower back would be in pain and causing her to stumble or suppressing her hunger made sense. But then the decline happened quickly and she was rushed off to a critical care facility where she received an MRI that clearly showed a glioma deep in her brain.

The decision to let Rosie go was difficult and painful, but it was clear she was in pain and rapidly deteriorating.

She passed away peacefully at 9:30 Friday morning…surrounded by those who loved her including her brother, Tyson who stood over her body quiet in his protection as she crossed over.

Gretchen was there and I was there in spirit. Monty was there with me as well for he loved Rosie as much (if not more) than I did. When we rounded the corner to her house on the days we walked her together, Monty pulled at the leash and pranced and danced as we walked up their driveway.

We were always happy to see Rosie and she was equally joyous. You could not know Rosie and not love her — that’s how much love she held within her. Sure, she wanted to chase after the cats (particularly all the ones who lived on her block) and yes, you had to be careful around female dogs, but I figure that we all have our quirks and those were Rosie’s.

I will remember those quirks, but mostly I will remember her rosy outlook on life. She was aptly named becasue there was never a day when Rosie didn’t greet each moment with a smile. Perhaps she knew how much each of us needed her joyful and playful approach to the world. Tyson, her brother, needed it perhaps the most.

Tyson is a worrier, but with Rosie by his side he learned to see the lighter side of the day. She’d punch him and invite him to join in, she’d steal his toys and spin around asking him to play and through it all, as every little brother can attest, he endured Rosie’s cajoling and yes, I believe, he deeply appreciated it (though he’d never let her know).

Rosie had that effect on all of us. She could move her jowls and make us laugh. She’d wiggle her tail and curl her Boxer body in half and we’d have to giggle. She’d beg for a treat with the cock of her head and everyone caved at the expression. She’d walk her bent-legged trot and then bust out into a full run when the swallows dive-bombed her head — an invitation to all of us to be spontaneous, bold, and goofy all at the same time.

I am so thankful that Rosie was my friend. I’m thankful that she opened up her life and her family and let me spend very happy moments with them all. I’m thankful for our walks in the sun and snow and wind and rain — day in and day out — and I’m thankful for all the times we shared a cookie together.

If I have one regret it’s that Gretchen didn’t allow us to meet that first day she began walking Rosie. It would have given me one more year to have loved her.

You will be missed, Ms. Rosie but I will carry you with me every time I see a cat or bark at a crow or feel the bump of a body against my own. Don’t worry about your brother, Tyson. I will do my best to love him the way you did. Together we will hold your Rosie Outlook with us every moment of our short and magnificent lives.

Rest in Peace,


One Reply to “April 7, 2012”

  1. Oh Rubin, I’m so sorry your friend Rosie is gone. You were a wonderful friend to her, and she to you. My friend Sammy is getting older now, and has occasionally seizures, so every moment I spend with her is a special one. She makes me realize that every moment really is special, no matter who you’re with.

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