You came into this world a mess, with your insides all twisted, and your floppy paws too big for your body. When I talked to Amanda about you yesterday morning, she said all she remembered from your puppy hood was that stupid cone you always had to wear, so that you didn’t eat your stitches. I remember other things, like how the whites of your eyes showed when you had some tiny treasure hidden in your mouth, and how you’d look up at me from under the dining room table (your refuge for stolen moments with stolen items) both smiling and guilty at the same time.
I remember the time you ate my Mom’s diamond earring and my dad had to spend days digging through your poop. He never did find it, but he did notice how beautiful your poop was… You had a very unique diet: crayons, socks, hair scrunchies, wheat-free dog food, matches. That’s right, you couldn’t handle regular dog food, but a two-foot long soccer sock? No problem. You used to eat the eyes off of all of our stuffed animals. That was your method of attack–chew off the eyes, and then pull the stuffing out through the eye sockets. And sometimes Jen and I were upset, but most of the time it was okay with us, because you were better than any stuffed animal.
So many people loved you, like the kids at the library, all the store owners on Main street, our neighbors… And you wanted to know everyone…intimately. You ran away from home to go play with the children at the church school down the road (the dog catcher knew you by name). You humped Amanda and my Dad. One of my favorite Rosie moments was the time my dad said “The ladies love me,” and wiggled his eyebrows, and you came and humped his leg. I peed my pants laughing. You didn’t leave it to physical displays, either, to make it clear who was boss. Every time Amanda got off the couch to grab something, you’d climb up to take her spot (even if there was an empty one on the other side of me!). I always loved that vengeful side of you. It showed how smart you really were, because your constant, goofy smile sort of masked that. It was almost as good as how once you got old, you realized that you were entitled to constant company on the couch, and would bark until someone came to sit next you, or came to keep a hand on your back as you climbed the stairs. Yeah, you were spoiled, but it was in the best way possible.
When your ACL snapped, and you couldn’t get up the stairs at all, I slept on the couch next to you, and every night before we settled down, you’d limp over to give me a kiss goodnight. You spoiled us too. I think that’s why you slept with me in the basement, once your leg had healed. You were returning the favor. And since you could no longer climb down the steep basement stairs, you used to go around the house to the side door, so that you could skip a flight of stairs… I can’t even tell you how much your sleeping in the basement with me meant. I remember lying in my hammock, falling asleep to your panting, feeling happy that you loved me as much as I loved you… and sitting on the carpet with you in the morning, crying, because I knew you had cancer and couldn’t last forever, and feeling your silky fur, and wondering if you knew, if you could feel yourself weakening.
You had hundreds of funny quirks, Rosie. Like how in your youth you humped and in your old age you grew a giant hump on your rump (which was ultimately your end, as it was cancerous). And how you used to go for walks and then change your mind, so that we’d have to turn back. But then once we got to the porch, you’d change your mind again! And you were so stubborn, so we’d walk you halfway down the block and back again. And how you de-stuffed Tickle Me Elmo while he screamed and shook and begged for more… And in that video dad took of my first day of fifth grade, you wouldn’t stop biting the leash and Dad called you a bad name. And how you used play tag with us, and run around and around, so fast the carpets would get all bunched up. And all those times you’d stalk Dad from the backyard, your lanky golden form hunched close to the ground. You used to crack the neighbors up with your antics… Not to mention us. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed harder than the time that you put your hackles up at a stump, and wouldn’t let us get close to it.
I’m sure there are more things too, and I could spend all day remembering them. I wanted to tell you right away though, Rosie, that the world feels different without you…. A little less golden.