Thirteen years ago, I took a ball of fluff home and named her Rosey. She was there for me in some of my hardest times. She helped me find peace and rest in the midst of turmoil. And today, I wanted to give her the rest she deserves.
When I was eight years old, I had this hamster. He was my first real pet, and I loved him with all the fervor of an eight year old girl who thinks hamsters are best friends and not insane escape machines. But one day my hamster’s wife hamster killed him. It was very tragic and I was heartbroken.
My parents recognized the tragedy and decided to finally get me what I’d been asking for since pre-hamster: A dog.
We began looking for the perfect doggy. But despite our efforts, none of them seemed quite right.
One of my mom’s friends had a litter of puppies, so after waiting a few weeks for them to grow up a little we came by to look at them. I searched for one after the other, trying to decide. But I had a feeling that something was following me. I turned around in time to see a little black streak dive under a bush. I kept looking. I could hear the soft paws following me.
I whirled fast enough to catch her by surprise. She was a tiny black puppy with big brown eyes. She hid under a car… but then started following me again as soon as I walked away. As cliché as it is, I guess in a sense she chose me.
We had to coax her out from under a car, because she was so shy, and then she shivered in my arms the whole drive home. I’m not sure why, but at the time I thought the name Rosey was perfect for a pet—Rosey with an E-Y, not I-E. So she became my Rosey.
I lived in the small town of Milton, FL, at the time. I was obsessed with Balto (the Disney movie). I couldn’t snap or whistle. So I’d cluck my tongue to call her. I’d yell “mush!” when it was time to run. My sister and I tried to train her to pull the wagon like a sled. I really don’t know how we thought this would work, because she was smaller than the wagon by far.
She loved to lick people. If I sat on my bottom beside her, she’d run around and jump on my back and lick my hair and ears and whatever she could reach of my face until I’d fall back, then she’d jump on my chest and lick me to death. I was also obsessed with Pokemon, so I called this the Lick Attack.
Sometimes I’d work really, really hard to make her take a nap. I remember lying down beside her on our front step for what felt like hours, stroking her and doing everything I could to make a hyperactive puppy sleepy. I knew every bit of her, from the way she’d wag her tail to the tired sigh she’d give when she was about to go to sleep.
We had a lot of adventures together, exploring the dam at the end of the neighborhood, tromping around with my friends and canoeing on the lake. I don’t have many memories of that time without Rosey.
I remember she always used to come to the gate on the side of our house when she knew we were going on a roadtrip. I’d come say goodbye to her and Patch (and later Dusty, then Melly) before I hopped in the car.
Then after 9/11, my dad was stationed in D.C. for the foreseeable future, and my family went with him. I arrived at our new house feeling bewildered and out of my depth. We’d put the dogs in the backyard, but I went out to say goodnight to Rosey and she looked very concerned and confused. I thought she seemed to say, “What did you do? Where have you brought me?” Now that I’m older, I think I just saw my own loneliness reflected in her. I begged Mom and we put them in the school room for the night, which turned out to be a good thing because our “fenced” backyard was only fenced in patches. So for the first few, hard days of moving, I could go romp with the dogs in the school room.
And we had more adventures. Rosey, Melly and Patch discovered snow (a joyous occasion) and iced over creeks (fun to watch). We used to take them on long walks down the Washington Parkway. We even tried to teach Rosey and Melly to climb trees (Melly did a lot better than Rosey). My sister and I made videos where we put shirts on the dogs and tried to do the dogs-with-human-hands thing. My friends and I made a film, Count de un Chien, in which Rosey played the minor rule of dog detective.
I remember long afternoons with my sister, making 1000 paper cranes in the backyard, with Rosey snoozing beside me. I remember sitting with Rosey in my lap while my dad read The Lord of the Rings. I remember long nights when she ran away, and the joy of having her again when we found her. Once when we were clipping her toenails (the most hated activity of them all, even above baths), she was positively terrified. Dad told me to talk to her, and I recited all of Ella Enchanted, and while I talked she would relax.
Then we moved again, to Chesapeake, VA. I used Rosey in some of my Photography 101 exercises. My cousins and I had fun taking her to parks and goofing off. When I had a hard day, I’d go out and pet her.
And again we moved, this time to Saucier, MS. My Rheumatoid Arthritis set in. After long days of bloodwork, I’d go out to sit with her. I remember the comfort I got from stroking her, even when my hands were hurting a great deal. We buried Patch in MS.
I left for school, and said goodbye. My family moved with Rosey back to Norfolk, VA. That first Christmas break, I stayed with them in a temporary condo while they looked for a house. The condo was right on the beach, so we’d take Melly and Rosey out for long runs. They got to stay inside with us, too (they were outside dogs before that). Laura and I even let them share our bed one night (it didn’t happen again, ha!). We had Christmas together, and I rested for the first time that semester.
Christmas has been when I see the most of my Rosey since college, because I have to work on campus during the summers. She developed a really bad heart murmur about a year ago, and I knew when I came home last Christmas that the end was coming. If she got excited, she’d cough until she was almost choking. Sometimes she’d just fall down and her eyes would go glossy. I sat with her for several nights and just cried. My baby was getting old.
But at that time, she was still happy. When she wasn’t coughing, she was her smiley self. She could still run a little and she was always wagging her tail. She’d be comfortable snuggled in my arms while I read.
When I came back from my semester abroad, she’d changed. Her stomach had bloated, but she’d lost muscle tone. Walking was an effort for her. Breathing was an effort. She came back, now and then (mostly when there was food around), and started wagging her tail and smiling. But most of the time she was just tired. I think she was still content, and not in too much pain most times. But she was very old, and very worn out.
She has been my best friend, and a constant in my very inconsistent life. I didn’t want to wait until all trace of her was gone, until she was in constant pain or couldn’t even walk. And I wanted to be with her, in the end, and stroke her fur and talk to her and calm her gently into a rest where she doesn’t have to work at breathing. I feel at peace about my decision, even if it makes me so sad I don’t know how to bear it.
Laura, Dad and I took her in. It was really hard. But when her breathing slowed and she stopped having to struggle, I felt a flow of peace. She’s okay.
Thanks for being my friend and companion for thirteen years, my sweet girl. Rest in peace.