Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love; they depart to teach us about loss. ~Erica Jong
I lost one of my walking buddies last week. Roxie lived across the road from me. She came to her family when she was a pup and already bigger than many dogs are when they are grown. A fuzzy furry sweatheart. Then she grew some more and became a regal, full size Saint Bernard. Her family has a house with one of those porches that go around two sides of it and Roxie liked to sit on that side porch facing my house and keep watch on her world. When the grandkids came to visit and we were outside, Roxie liked to meander on over to our yard to check out what was happening.
And she loved to go walking with Oscar and me. Every day she’d be out on the porch or yard with an ear out to listen for us to head out to the field for our walk. In her early years, she always heard me, but the last couple of years, her hearing suffered and if she fell asleep on the porch waiting for us, she didn’t always wake up. I couldn’t help feeling a little guilty when we came back from our walk and she’d be awake and come off the porch to give me that look that said “why did you go without me.” A few times I would walk back down the lane because she looked so disappointed.
She did have that slobber problem that dogs with big mouths have. And she did like to lean on you. Early on, I decided that blue jeans are easy to wash and a little Saint Bernard slobber is a small price to pay for such a sweet companion. My grandkids weren’t as sure about that, especially when she came close and shook her head. Then the slobber slingers got them. She wasn’t a neat dog. When we walked in the cow pastures, she would rub her neck down in the fresh cow piles as though putting on a little perfume. Not sure her family appreciated her walking with me on those days! She was also quick to scavenger any dead animals we came across. It was useless trying to get her to leave the carcass be. She simply picked whatever it was up and headed for home. Another time her family probably wasn’t so happy I’d led her astray.
She loved the snow because that was her element. She was more than ready to walk when the ground was covered in white. It was easy to imagine her in the Alps with a keg around her neck searching out somebody lost in the snow. Oscar, who also likes the snow, enjoyed having Roxie along on our walks. They were buddies and the longer walks the better for both of them. Snow in the winter, the creek in the summer were their favorites.
Then Friday a week ago after I got home from my trip to California, I went for a walk in the rain. Roxie was right there with me and seemed the same as any other day. But the next day she must have had a heart attack. They found her with no sign of trauma, just gone on. I miss her now when we walk. A little Roxie slobber on my jeans would be more than welcome. Roxie bulldozed her way through life, going where she wanted to go and living her her dog life to the fullest. She was a very good neighbor and walking buddy. Go rest high on that mountain, Roxie, where all good dogs surely wait at the gate to welcome their families (and a neighbor or two) home.
Dogs’ lives are too short…their only fault, really. ~Agnes Sligh Turnbull
A good dog never dies. ~Mary Carolyn Davies