Roxie, The Beloved
I know you think your dog is the most adorable pooch in the world. And that you love her/him more than anybody in the world loves her/his dog. I’m very sorry to say that you are wrong. My 18-pound mutt, Roxie, is not only the cutest, most special doggie on the planet, but also the most beloved.
She is six years old, shiny black, with large brown eyes; her most distinguishing feature is her giant Papillon ears which stop people on the street to comment. A bit of background: I only had golden retrievers in my adult dog life: grand, gorgeous, sweet animals. When my last one, Mollie, passed at age sixteen after a bout with lymphoma, Tom and I decided to go smaller, given our advancing years. We always had rescue dogs, as opposed to buying them, so I began the search right after Mollie died. I am someone who can’t live without the presence of a dog for very long.
A week after we put out the word, when our home felt empty and dull, our lawyer’s wife emailed me. She rescues and fosters dogs, looking for the best homes for them. She sent me photos of several small dogs, Roxie among them. She said she would bring a few to our home the next day, for us to meet. Tom was going to be away from home all day with work appointments, so he anointed me to choose a dog if one struck my fancy. Tom is not a dog nut case as I am, although he certainly loved all our goldens. But I’m someone who, at a party, will give a serious amount of attention to any dogs roaming around, in lieu of focusing on the guests. You who are dog nuts will know exactly what I’m talking about.
When Marilyn arrived with three dogs, all very dear, we stood outside our condo building and watched the trio frolic on the beach. Roxie sprinted to me and jumped up on me, staring into my eyes with her huge brown ones, and that was it, I was in love. Marilyn had brought food, a little bed, all the tools and toys that a new home would require. Tom came home a few hours later, took one glance at her and has said many times since then, “something in my heart I didn’t even know was there opened up and I was flooded with love.” He became a Roxie nut case. That was six years ago.
We frolicked endlessly with Roxie for two days, scratching her belly whenever she rolled over on the bed or couch. I put a small bed next to my desk and she spent as much of the day there as I spent next to her. She was calm, easy, perfect.
Two days later Tom got a call from our attorney who, with much embarrassment, said: “Marilyn has been crying since she gave you Roxie. She misses her terribly and really wants her back. Can you possibly return her?” Tom ran into my office and told me of the call. I responded in a loud unpleasant voice, ‘NO F—ING WAY.” What is she doing fostering dogs if she’s getting so attached”? I ranted on about Marilyn, and her unfitness to be a mother, albeit a temporary one, until Tom called our attorney back and rejected his request, in more civil words than I had used. A few days later I got an email from Marilyn, offering to find me another dog. It was a civil letter, she acknowledged her inappropriateness – but still wanted Roxie back. I declined of course. We didn’t communicate for a few more years until I bumped into her at a concert, showed her photos of Roxie and had a lovely exchange. She was still fostering dogs.
Roxie is our beloved, probably the second most important being in my life. We walk by the shore with her while she chases birds and engages other doggies to play and yaps occasionally at folks who, I insist to Tom, are undoubtedly bad people; she sleeps sometimes on my head but always on the bed between us, sometimes working her way under the covers to curl up on my feet. She jumps on my chest in the morning when I wake up and she senses it might be time for a walk. Our friend Stef prepares her food, a natural human diet; she eats healthier than we do. She has never been ill, never. She is almost always peaceful and, I think, content.
Once, a few years ago, while I walked her on the path in front of our home, she nipped a woman who was strange and was yelling continuously at nothing. A neighbor, Janet, who is the local troublemaker, saw this minor event and convinced the woman to report us to the police. We had to go to court, brought with us several statements from friends who knew Roxie well and loved her deeply. The case was dismissed; Janet and I haven’t spoken to each other since. She has a dog named Rambo.
Twice a week, we send Roxie out with Alan, a master hiker who loads about eight dogs in his van and goes up into the Santa Monica mountains for six hours. Whatever they do and wherever they go, Roxie comes back exhausted, collapses for hours on the bed. Often, she’s too tired to get up for dinner.
Sometimes she and I lie side by side on the bed and look deeply into each other’s eyes for several moments. Most dogs don’t like to do that, it’s threatening to them I’m told. But Roxie of course isn’t like most dogs. I’m dying to know what she’s thinking, what she’s feeling about me and about her life. Does she love me more than I love her? Is that even possible? Isn’t it blessed that I never wanted kids?
Check out my recent memoir MY MOTHER WOULD HATE THIS BOOK. It is now available in hardcover, paperback & eBook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or order through your local bookstore. https://www.amazon.com/Mother-Would-Hate-This-Book