She had many nicknames – Roogie, Naan, the brown one, poo, Noodle, among others. I called her ‘Pest’.
Roxie the dog.
For ten years she was ours. It took a while for the whole family to persuade me to get a dog. It was after some good friends got a labrador and then I’d spent a week filming with a chocolate lab that we decided that’s what we’d go for when the time was right. I think I’d said once all the kids were out of nappies we could get one – I’m not the pet-lover in the house as it happens. In the end our youngest was three when I gave in. We chose Roxie and the fun began.
Tim was most definitely first in her heart. If she could go everywhere with him she would – to work, to the bathroom, everywhere. The one exception to that would be if I put my boots on as she knew that I would take her for a far longer walk. She was the most placid dog I have ever known, putting up with all the kids antics, loving the attention even when being dressed up in various hats and scarves to star in home-made music videos. She was a little bit of a scaredy dog, preferring to say hello to the owners rather than other dogs on a walk.
Through the ups and downs of life a dog is there loving unconditionally. When things were great she’d be happy and bounding around just because we were. When someone was upset she was always there for a cuddle. I’m grateful that we brought her with us in the move to Canada as I’m sure it helped the kids with the stress of all the changes.
She loved water and the three years of walks on Lancing and Worthing beach fetching one of Tim’s Crocs from out of the waves. She loved the snow from the moment we landed in Canada, plunging herself straight into a snow bank. She respected the invisible boundary into the living and dining room as long as we were awake, and then crept in there and onto a sofa at night. She loved eating the most disgusting things she could find. Poopsicles (frozen dog poo) were a favourite.
This year began though, and she got sick. She’d been a bit tired for a little while. We thought she was just getting older, but it was more than that. We realized that this was serious, the vet gave us some possible diagnoses, cancer was ruled out, an auto-immune disease most likely was the cause, but drugs failed to help lift her red blood cell count. It continued to drop. We ended up finishing last week with the hardest decision as we could see her body failing her. Earlier on in her life we always said we wouldn’t make her suffer unnecessarily and we could see that carrying on would mean she would.
We went as a family (minus one away at college) with her to the animal hospital for the last time.
I’ll remember the moment when her tail stilled for a very long time to come. The tail that wagged so furiously every time we walked through the door (apart from me, she wouldn’t always greet me at the door, as if, ‘Oh, it’s just you’), or mentioned ‘dinner’, or ‘walkies’, or picked up a ball to play, or looked like there was even the smallest possibility that we’d give her an empty yoghurt pot to lick out, or even just looked at her. Still.
We walked away without her. Devastated.
I expected her to be around for a few more years shedding dog hair all over our floor. We all did. This was all too early. It’s as if for now the fun has been sucked out of our home. It’s too quiet when we get in. There are no tip-tapping paws on the floor, no brown blob curled up in front of the wood-stove, no one to growl if a squirrel or a cat gets dangerously near our back door.
A chapter has ended. Roxie will always be the dog my kids grew up with. Our family dog. I’m grateful for the joy that she gave us and others. I’m glad I gave in. Even I will miss her.