Today Was That Day

IMG_0976You were a little wiggling ball of wiry hair with a wet nose and tongue when I got you on a cold February morning. I didn’t need a dog and I sure as hell shouldn’t have gotten one. I was 22, in college, working 2 jobs and living in a garage apartment with a less than stellar boyfriend. I knew I didn’t have a lot of time but, I wanted you, I needed you. I needed something to love and to love me back and you were it. I loved you from the moment I saw you with your black floppy ears and your wonderful puppy breath.

IMG_0970You’ve had many names; Roxy. Roxanne. Rox. Puppers. Pooper. Poo-poo. Stinky Butt.  You answered to them all, tail wagging and with a twinkle in your mischievous eyes.

You spent days and nights curled up, wedged between me and the back of my chair while I was hunched over my drafting table working endlessly on drawings and projects. You were content to lay next to me on the floor while I spent countless hours making models and sample boards. The one summer I took two architecture studio classes and didn’t get to sleep for almost 10 weeks straight, you kept me company during my sleep deprived stupor. When those classes finally ended and I had time off to relax, I slept for 32 hour straight, you never left my side watching over my near comatose body.

I had a late night project playlist that included “Roxanne” by the Police. Every time that song would come on, you would wake up and stare from me to my my laptop speakers, tilting your adorable little head back and forth confused why the warm humming box on the table was singing at you like I usually did. I never failed to make me laugh. I wish cell phones had cameras for pictures and videos back then because I would have taken thousands of your adorable little face when that song came on.

You weren’t always wonderful, you were just as much a little shit in your youth. You liked to run and you were so fast! I would be going out to get the mail or to put something in my car and as I opened the door you would be flying down the stairs and bounding out before I could scream your name. More than once I chased you down the driveway and back (and down and back and down…) petrified with fear that one day you’d dart across the quiet dead end street when a neighbor happened to be driving by and hit you. They never did but it didn’t stop me from sobbing as I made the long walk home with you trapped in my arms licking my face happy as can be from your high speed adventure.

You went with me everywhere. If I was running up to the gas station at 1am you wanted to come and I happily took you. One night I realized that I had forgotten to lock the door so after putting you and my purse in the car, I ran back to lock it. Much to my chagrin when I returned to my car I found you happily standing on the lock door button watching me wagging your little stumpy tail in anticipation of going for a ride. It was a chilly 1 am and my keys and cell phone were in the now locked car with you. I had to swallow my pride and bang on the neighbor’s door to call mom and pops to bring me a spare set of keys. I sat for close to 45 minutes outside the car watching you watch me in wonder. Just as pops pulled up our long driveway you jumped back over the center counsel to the back seat stepping on the lock door button again thus unlocking the doors; something I had been trying to get you to do for 30 minutes before I had called for help and then again for 30 minutes after calling for help before giving up and waiting the last 15 more minutes for help to come. Pops laughed and went back home. You were just so pleased with yourself I couldn’t be mad.

When that not so stellar boyfriend we lived with became a world class asshole you were there listening and cowering as we screamed at each other and when the dust settled you crept out to me and laid with me ever my protector while I cried at the mess I found myself in. More than once we fell asleep together, my face buried in your tear soaked fur. When the time finally came that I left, it was because of you and my fear that the asshole would take you or hurt you just to spite me. You were too sweet and innocent and deserved more than that little shit hole apartment filled with anger and fear.

You never met a person or other animal that you didn’t love except your archenemies, the chipmunks. You had a terrible habit of peeing on certain people’s laps that you loved a little extra and yet, they loved you back and held you regardless, knowing they could walk away with pee cover pants. You were just too lovable to deny.

Everyone said your breed were bad with kids and forget about babies. But not you. You loved babies. Loved. You would lay with your head on their carrier just staring at them. If they were on a blanket on the ground, you had to be near them, slowly creeping closer until at least you nose touched them, happy to just be near. And when those babies turned into fur grabbing ear pulling, drag you around the house in a giggling head lock toddlers, you never snapped or hid, you took it and you always happily went back for more.

IMG_0973You were stinky. You had an over active anal glad that without warning would release and fill a room with a noxious haze that rivaled the smell of a skunk spray. You knew it and inevitably would slink off embarrassed and afraid of the bath you knew was coming. Just saying the words “stinky butt” made to dart to hide in the basement. And as noxious and gross as it was, we loved you. How could we not?

And when we subjected you to a needy, annoying orphan kitten, you took that too. You let him follow you around and nuzzle into you for comfort. Your face said, “Please make it go away” but, you tolerated it because you were just too good. When he got bigger, you loved him. You’d chase each other around the house tumbling and rolling. You never hurt him even though there were plenty of times you took a hard swipe to the face from a claw that left you yelping. You never held it against him and even in your elderly years a decade of not seeing each other, you remembered him and still loved him.

You snuggled under covers all the way to my feet. Inevitably you would get hot and would crawl out panting to breathe hot stinking breath on me while sharing my pillow. I didn’t kick you out of the bed though.

You would chase a tennis ball until you collapsed and swim the length of the pond and back until so exhausted we had to force you to stop for fear of you drowning. The swimming was weird because what terrier like swimming?

IMG_0974When I was too poor to afford grooming, you suffered my DIY clipper cuts with minimal struggle. You never barked, snapped or ran, even if I nicked an ear flap or tail top. You accepted your fate with the saddest pleading face and when I was done you zoomed around the yard with your tail tucked down practically flying over the grass.

You loved Christmas. You were a little weirdo that KNEW what gifts were yours under the tree and would constantly try and steal them to open them. We would have to hide your little wrapped toys and treats in a closet until it was Christmas Eve night and time for you to open them. When we would set them on the ground for you, you would tear into the paper with reckless abandon much like a 6 year old child. After the paper was shredded and discarded you would prance around the room making sure to show everyone your new thing before moving to the next. Maybe we were the weirdos for buying presents and wrapping them for a dog but, you loved it. You loved it as much as the kids did. Your weird human like joy at Christmas presents brought joy to us.

IMG_0977You were with me when I had to move almost 3,000 miles away for a job. You quietly sat in the back seat wedged between suitcases and bins for 5 days while we drove in a haphazard path across the United States. You barked at prairie dogs and escaped from a hotel room in Billings to run laps around the NO PETS ALLOWED hotel before finally running back in the room panting, pleased with yourself as always.

When you didn’t adjust well to city living it broke my heart. You lost weight and hair. You chewed your paws bloody. You were sensitive and had issues most likely for the fucked up situation I had you in when I brought you home as a baby. The small fenced yard and loud street noises made you a mess. For over a year I tried diet changes and doggie anti-depressants but nothing helped. I sent you home to mom and pops for a visit and was told I wasn’t getting you back based on the sad sight you were. So you lived on five acres with them but I always missed you. I’m pretty sure the asshole cat did as well.

Mom and pops got not one but TWO tiny yappy Mexican dogs that you immediately mothered like they were your own little puppies. You played with a one pound puppy ever so gently, letting the tiny terror hang from your jowls while you laid on the floor as to be low enough for them to attack. You herded them to the house when they strayed too far and barked at them if they didn’t listen. You had more patience with those two than the humans did.

When, unbeknownst to anyone, you had a abscessed tooth that started to hurt when you ate, you were a badass and hooked a nail behind it and cleanly ripped it out, root and all and went right back to chewing your bone. It freaked out mom and pops but, it didn’t phase you. You were a little spitfire who didn’t let a stinking tooth come between her and her treats.

Over the years you were a landmark that meant home; a furry, happy, silly face to welcome me at the door with wiggles of joy and sloppy kisses every time I would visit. You always remembered me, jumping and whining joyous hellos. The years passed and your glossy black ears and eye patches started to show more white than black. Your eyes got cloudy and rheumy but, you still ran like the wind and thought you could jump from the top step without missing a beat.

DSC_0006The last few times I was home, your white muzzle was obvious. You struggled to get moving after sleeping; limping for the first several steps while you worked your arthritic joints back into functioning. There was no more jumping from the top step or zoomies around the yard. You were deaf and probably mostly blind. And I cried at the sight. I cried because I knew this day was coming. The day that I would get a call from mom saying, “Roxy isn’t with us anymore.” That day was today.

You gave me almost 17 years of unconditional love, hilarious memories and pure joy.    My heart is broken knowing that you aren’t in this world anymore and I wasn’t there to hold you as you left it. When I come home you won’t be there excited to see me and my heart will break all over again. I will always love you and miss you. Home is forever changed with your absence. I hope they have munk-munks in doggie heaven for you to chase forever and all the treats you can eat Pooper.