Today our family said goodbye to our 15 year old pup, Rosie. After a year of battling kidney disease, her body had finally had enough. The past five days have been a whirlwind of pain, sadness and grief as I watched her slip away in body and spirit. I thought I was prepared to deal with these feelings, but it has been much harder than I ever imagined. Rosie was incredibly loving, loyal to the bone and chock-full of spunk, and that is why she deserves a tribute.
My husband got Rosie from a shelter when she was only weeks old. She was so small, she could fit in the palm of my hand. I’d make the other hand into a spider, fingers crawling toward her, and she’d pounce on it with her entire tiny body, ears flapping all over the place. Unfortunately, I do not have pictures of her as a puppy. This is before digital photos and all that, one of my biggest regrets in life is not taking pictures the first time I visited her when she was tiny. I did take video and then accidentally taped over it not long after at a family function (this was with actually video tape…I’m dating myself here). I kick myself every day for that, but it is what it is. She seriously was the cutest thing you ever did see. Just google ‘jack russell puppy’ and you’ll want to go out and get one right this second.
When my husband would go TDY or deploy while I was in college, I’d pick Rosie up and bring her back to my apartment. She slept with me, followed me everywhere and went with me on errands. She was my best buddy, confidant and protector. One night, I was sleeping with the window open because it was so nice out (which was totally stupid being on the first floor of an apartment complex, but I was 20, so…). In the middle of the night Rosie started growling and ran to the window. She began barking at the screen, and I looked up to see the shadow of a person run off. She had my back, and I had hers.
When my husband and I got married she came to live with us in our first home, and we had fun throwing her ball in the hallway, knowing she’d slide all over the place when she ran after it. When my husband would deploy, she got to sleep in the bed with me (daddy didn’t have to know!). She’d lay with me on the couch and sit and watch me cook. It’s because of her that I didn’t feel so lonely during those weeks and months.
My husband’s going to kill me for this, but….
We spent four years apart from Rosie when we lived in Okinawa. She lived with my husband’s family during that time, which was better for her since there really wasn’t much grass or places to play where we lived. She became very close to them, and I will forever be grateful for their willingness to keep her. We really thought we were going to have to give her away, but they stepped in and accepted her into their family with open arms so we could keep her in ours. They had 3 Rhodesian Ridgebacks, which, if you know anything about that type of dog, is the exact opposite of Rosie’s disposition! But she learned who was boss, began to adapt and bonded with all of them.
Rosie having fun in the snow with my sister in law…
Rosie was returned to us in 2010 after moving back stateside. We had a huge backyard and she’d dart off and run the entire length of it as fast as she could in huge circles. It was so funny! She had SOOO much energy, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 9 years of age. Anytime anyone came over, she’d think they were coming to play with her. It took her a good ten minutes to calm down enough for her to just be in the room with someone because she just wanted to jump up and kiss them constantly!
When my second son was born, I was a little worried about how she would react. But she was mama dog all the way. Anytime my son would cry, she’d go over and lick him and sit with him. She loved him just like she loved our oldest son. She’d roll over so they could rub her belly. Man, she put up with a lot too. He’d pull her tail, dress her up in hats….poor thing. But she took it like a champ.
When we found out we were moving to Germany, there was no doubt she would come over with us. She was still very healthy and spunky and did fine on the way over. She enjoyed going on walks with us in the forest behind our village and basking in the sunlight on our porch. She was always mooching off of my boys’ leftovers, stealing their waffles and chicken nuggets right off their plates.
But about two years in she finally started to slow down. In 2015 we found out she had kidney problems, and she was put on meds and special food for awhile. She was pretty good, just slower than normal. But in late August she began to eat and walk less, and I knew it was not going to get any better. I knew it would be an issue with us PCSing soon, so I asked God that if she were not to make the flight, to just let her go early. I just couldn’t handle it if something were to happen during the move. And so, my prayers were answered.
This morning my son walked in and saw Rosie on her bed and stared at her for a minute. Then he said, “Rosie need toys!” and proceeded to bring her four of his toys and placed them by her water bowl. Bless his sweet heart. When we went to the vet, he kept looking at her saying, “It’ll be okay, Rosie.” He truly does have a huge huge heart.
15 years is a wonderful, long life for a dog. It is a gift to have had her as long as we did, and I am so grateful for it. Today I kept her home to spend as much time with her as possible until it was time to let go. I lay on the floor with her and pet her until it was time to go. I take solace in the fact that I knew she was ready and that we did all we could. I can’t explain it, but it’s almost like she told me she wanted to go. My husband literally drove up to the house from being on his trip, got in my car and all four of us headed to the vet; he didn’t even have time to put his bags in the house. I am thankful we both got to be there with her. My oldest son came and said his goodbyes beforehand, and he and our youngest son sat out in the waiting room while we stayed with Rosie. We got to hold her and kiss her and send her off across the Rainbow Bridge together. And I just know she is now having as many chicken nuggets and waffles as her heart desires.
If there is one thing that I’ve learned from going through this is how much good is still left in the world. So many people have reached out to us with kind words and messages of encouragement. Every single message was read and every single message helped. I have some really amazing people in my life, let me tell you.
Goodbye, Rosie girl. Not hearing you click-clacking around breaks my heart, but I know you are in a better place. You have left us with some beautiful memories, and we will cherish them forever.