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Monday, September 26, 2022

You're a Good Dog

I've been dreading writing this post, but I can't put it off forever. For the first time in almost 40 years, we have no dogs in the house.

But all our dogs that stood in for this blog's fictionalized feature canine, Chippy (who was a Dane-hua-hua) deserve to be celebrated and remembered, and that includes my sweet Roxy.

Roxy aka Chippy 3.0

You have to go back a bit, to Duke, who was a sleek, black, short-haired Dane/Lab cross. He was a heller, and a wonderful dog, with the most beautiful golden eyes.

When Duke was 4 or 5, we got Blaze, a Border Collie / Lab cross, to keep him company. Blaze was just a puppy and they became fast friends.

And, for a time, we also had Lucky, a beautiful shepherd cross in her senior days. We nursed her through her retirement and her life came to a gentle end after a couple of years.

Duke, Lucky and Blaze awaiting treats.

We sure had our hands full with three dogs in the house, but they got along well enough that they could all eat together, lined up side by side. They never snarled over food once we had them trained in.

Unfortunately, Duke got short-changed in life. He had not one but two ACL tears with ensuing surgery, and then cancer in (we think) his stomach lining. He only enjoyed 10 years of life and when he was gone, poor Blaze was inconsolable.

She lay in a spot under a coffee table, hidden away, for a full year, only coming out for meals and walks.

Independently, Mrs. Flusher and I had both seen Roxy's photo on the local Humane Society page. We both took note of her, and I mentioned the dog and we were surprised that we'd both been taken by the gorgeous mutt in the photo.

Roxy

So, just as we'd gotten Duke a dog, we got Blaze one too - Roxy.

Blaze soon came out of her depression and they were fine companions, as much as Roxy would put up with.

Roxy and Blaze


Now, Roxy had attitude. You've never seen such an assertive and dominant female as Roxy. She fought for her place right until the end, always trying to be first out the door, always wanting to be in charge. Always a handful, that girl, and we kept up the assertion of our own places as pack leaders right up to the end.

Roxy was probably half shepherd, quarter Great Dane, and quarter lab, and she was easily the smartest, and fittest dog we have ever owned. And she was beautiful. She had gorgeous golden brindle tones in her dark fur, and she was perfectly proportioned.

She was also furry. Really furry. It turns out we'd adopted the breed that sheds more than any other and for the next decade and more it was fur, fur, fur everywhere. (I'm certain we'll never be free of it.)

Readers of the blog might recall when Blaze died, and how much that hurt. I'd always wanted to have a dog from puppy right up until death, and Blaze was that dog. I felt some satisfaction knowing that I'd done my best for her right through her entire life, but that didn't come close to making up for the loss of such a sweet friend.

But this is about Roxy! Did I say she was smart?

Roxy loved to chase the light from a laser pointer. She'd run up and down the hall, try to bite it on the walls and floors, bark madly when that maddening dot went up across the ceiling.

And then Roxy stopped chasing so much and looking back at me. Looking at the wall, looking at me.

Roxy figured out where the laser dot was coming from - my hand. And she started watching my hand to know where the magical light was going to appear.

We have always made it a rule not to feed dogs any human food. Do this and they will never bother you when eating, and never get into things you might leave around.

I once went out and left some rib bones on a plate within easy reach. They were untouched when we returned hours later.

And Roxy also knew she wasn't allowed in the galley kitchen. She'd lie outside in the hallway and watch. When a paw slipped over the line (she was constantly testing) I'd say, "Tippytoes...." and she'd pull it back away from no-dogs land.

The thing she was usually waiting for was ice - her favorite treat.


At some point or another, all our dogs had been offered ice and they never had any interest - until Roxy. She learned that she could chew on those cubes and break them up, and then munch them down.

Any time I went to the fridge and dispensed some ice into my glass, she'd show up, and sit outside the kitchen and watch, and demand ice of her own.

Roxy ate multiple ice cubes after every meal, and various times during the day. She couldn't get enough of them!

And, here's a point of interest - her teeth never, ever developed the horrible crud and tartar that all older dogs seem to develop. Even at 14, her teeth were clean, healthy, and white, and I put it down to the ice flushing away all the bits of food and cookie.

Another thing about Roxy - she loved to talk. She'd sort of howl at us when she wanted something or when excited, not a full howl, sort of a low row-rowr-rowr sound. You'd swear she was trying to talk.

So, anytime she wanted ice, she'd sit in front of me and start up with the rowr-rowr. Roxy was personally responsible for me getting up off the couch 187,301 extra times over the 13 years we were together.

Some years ago, Blaze left us, and it was incredibly hard for me. But Roxy was resilient. She bounced right back. She had a strong sense of herself and an independent streak that stayed with her.

Roxy and I bonded even more closely with Blaze gone. She slept next to my bed for over a decade. And every night, whether she was on my bed or in her own bed when I turned in, I'd whisper in her ear, even when it meant getting down on my hands and knees on the floor.

"Good night, Roxy. You're a good dog. You're a goooood dog."

I had this idea that in case something happened to me in the night, at least that would be the last words she'd hear from me.

The last couple of years of Roxy's life, she started to show symptoms of a degenerative disease that was affecting her rear legs.

We bought the manufactured dwelling and last winter was our first winter away. Roxy was getting pretty old, but we hoped she would be able to come with us and she did. In fact, she loved the traveling. Long days in the car didn't faze her at all, and she had a lovely winter in the warm temperatures, skipping the cold, dark, ice and snow, with all kinds of new things to look at, and new scents to enjoy, as dogs do. Dog's do? Don't worry, I picked up after her every time.

Roxy's health had gone downhill quite a bit over the winter and she needed quite a bit more help with the stairs once we returned to Flusherville. Overall she seemed happy to be home though, and we hoped she would have a good summer.

There's no point in going into detail about the end - she was old, 14, she'd had a good life, a wonderful life in fact, and her disease finally got the better of her. Roxy, the one with the spirit, toughness, and attitude, the resilient one - she finally let us know that it was time, when one day, she fell and wouldn't get up again. And she'd stopped eating, always a warning that a dog's end may be near.

I can't express how much we miss that dog. How much we miss having any dog. We are retired now, and the plan is to have a few dogless years so we can enjoy more flexibility in our lives for a while. But the emptiness in the house is unrelenting.

Every night before sleep, I still tell Roxy goodnight, talk to her a bit, tell her I miss her. I can't bring myself to stop, and I think I will keep doing it until the day I forget. And then I might do it some more.

"You're a good dog, Roxy," I whisper into the darkness that seems to stretch on forever. "You're a good dog."

I hope she can hear me somehow, somewhere, and I hope she knows how much she was loved.

Sleep well, my girl.







    10 comments:

    1. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, like the love of a dog. Keep whispering to Roxy. She hears you. Tears are running down my face as I remember my two sweet babies that have left and know what you are going through. The present puppy is a terror but he’s my terror. ♥️💔♥️

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    2. Aww, sad news- and I’m blubbering like a baby! 🌈 good girl Rosy!xx

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    3. Aww that one caught in my throat and came out of my eyes a little 😢

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    4. Rest In Peace Roxy.

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    5. We are all so lucky to have furry friends in our lives. Saying goodbye is always bittersweet. So sorry for your loss!

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    6. That's so sweet. My dog is 8 years old and so far he's in really good health. I've had lots of other animals and its always so hard to say goodbye.

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    7. She was beautiful. What a good life she had. 😢🤗

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    8. We lost our "last" dog a couple of months ago. I still talk to her too.

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    9. Bawling my eyes out! Roxy was loved well & well-loved.

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    10. Deepest condolences Flusher to you and the Quad Queen. What an exceptional tribute you have written. Thank you so much for sharing. We lost our beloved "Buddy" three days after returning from Vegas earlier this month. For twelve years he was the best friend our family will ever have. I can very much relate to the depth of the emptiness and the overwhelming sense of loss. Godspeed. - Foofighter.

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