Thursday, September 10, 2015

Requiem for Rosie

Yesterday, my sweet 15-year old Lab Mix, Rosie died.  I had been really concerned about her for quite some time.  I mean...15 is OLD for a dog her size.  And she was missing a leg.

Here's a picture of her when she still had all of her appendages.

She and Mileena had been napping.  Rosie had just given her "sugar".  Mileena was all, "Ew, dog slobber!"
When Rosie was fairly young, she was hit by a car.  She survived the accident but had some significant damage to the nerves in her shoulder.  The vet begged me repeatedly to just let him remove the leg.  But I HATED the idea of her losing her leg.  So we went to great lengths to help her keep it.  Every morning and evening, I did rehab exercises with her.  And she did get to where she could use it to some extent...sort of like a crutch.  But she kept it scraped up...and then she'd obsessively lick it.  So I ended up ordering her specially made boots from Ireland:

I spent more on footwear for my dog back then than I did on myself.

And the vet put her on doggie Prozac for her OCD. (I know!)   Eventually, however, she got it pretty seriously infected and we ended up letting the vet remove it.
She never even missed it.  She was running around the backyard 2 days after her surgery looking A LOT happier than when she'd been dealing with her leg that didn't work too well.
Jeff even taught her to "air shake"...He'd have her sit, then put out his hand and say "Air shake!" and her little shoulder knob would make the motions like she was doing her shake.  She was very proud of herself.

She was a very happy dog.  She got along with all of the cats.  She was well loved by the other two dogs.  She was a very, very good girl.
In honor of her passing...I will share with you (for some of you...I'm sharing again) one of Rosie's finest hours.
I give you the story of: Rosie, Possum-Slayer!

Back in 2007-2008, my husband, Jeff, and I spent about a year taking his parents to Tulsa, Oklahoma from Anniston, Alabama for his dad’s chemo treatments at the Cancer Treatment Center of America.  (This was before CTCA built a center in Atlanta). His treatments were 6 weeks apart, and we took turns taking them.  Usually we would drive them, but one trip in early January, not being confident on how the weather would behave, and since we’re from Alabama and all we know how to do if it snows is buy milk and bread, we were flying.  This trip was an especially bad one.  It seemed like everything that could go wrong, did.  After three days in the land of chemotherapy we were on our way back THROUGH the Dallas airport with a 4 hour layover.  (I have discovered that you cannot get from Birmingham, Alabama to Tulsa, Oklahoma.  It is NOT DONE.  You have to sneak in from another city, like Dallas or Atlanta or Houston.)  Anyway, finally, at 8:00 pm we have landed back in B’ham and are ready to get our bags, get the van and head home…that takes ‘til about 9:00.  And of course it is POURING DOWN rain.  I am white-knuckling the steering wheel for the first 25 miles, when the rain finally lets up enough for me to call Jeff and tell him that I’m about 35-40 minutes away from home.
I get the in-laws home, and drive to our house.  When I get there, Jeff gets my bags out of the van, hands me a drink that he's already made for me and tells me that I should grab a book and Rosie, the three-legged wonder dog and go sit where I can hear the rain and unwind and relax a bit.  It’s about 10:30 by this time and I’m wound tighter than a spring.  “Don’t worry about anything, babe, I’ll unpack your bag,” he says.  So...I raise the garage door, get a book, my drink, and a camp chair and invite Rosie to join me in the garage as I start trying to loosen up. 
Pictured above: Rosie, the wonder dog, giving a terrifying yawn) 
I’m readin’ and sippin’ and starting to unwind a bit when out of the corner of my eye, I catch something moving.  I look up, and there is a POSSUM crossing the driveway.  Not a big possum, one about double the size of a squirrel, but STILL!!!  Are possums not the most skanky looking animals in the WORLD (or at least in the Southeast) or what? 

Well, Rosie jumps up and runs her three-legged self right out into the driving rain, runs around the car parked in the drive and then comes back WITH THE POSSUM IN HER MOUTH!!!  She’s trotting around in the driveway, getting soaking wet, when I holler at her (I want to say right here that I am a college degreed mechanical engineer, but certain circumstances cause me to revert to behavior such as HOLLERIN’) “Rosie, drop that possum RIGHT NOW!”  She opens her mouth and THUD!  Right in the middle of my driveway she drops the dead possum and comes back up the drive and into the garage.  I shoo her in the house, and walk to the bottom of the stairs and holler (I’m still in hollerin’ mode), “Jeff!  YOUR DOG has killed something!”  I then stalk back out to the garage and sit back down in my chair and look at the possum…it’s still in the drive, it’s fur getting all matted and nasty looking in the rain.  Jeff comes out and takes a look…he’s barefoot, because he had gotten up in a hurry to see exactly what was going on.  Then he actually looks at me and says, “Ah, I can’t get it, I’m barefoot.”  I put THE LOOK on my face and said, “Look, bucko, if you think I am going to deal with a dead, nasty BEAST after the three days I have put in…not to mention the NERVE WRACKING drive I just made, you are so, so mistaken.  I’m sure if you look it up, dead animals DEFINITELY falls under the “Man Duty” heading.  You may have been lucky enough to marry a woman who can put the gas grill together, but I am NOT taking care of a dead possum.”  I believe I had my hand on my hip by this point.

So Jeff shuffles barefoot back into the house (I hear him stop to praise Rosie for being such a “good girl, gettin’ that bad ole possum”) and up the stairs to get his shoes.  He’s up there awhile…maybe 10 minutes.  Then I hear him back in the kitchen looking for rubber gloves (wuss) and getting a trash bag.  I’m trying to read my book and sip my drink, but I keep looking up at the carcass in my drive.  Jeff’s still banging away in the kitchen after the rubber gloves (you KNOW he really wants me to come in and find them for him) when the possum TWITCHES!!  Creepy, unnatural, not healthy-like twitchin’…
"Well, crap!”, I say to myself,  “The only thing worse than a DEAD POSSUM in my driveway is a HALF-DEAD POSSUM in my driveway.”  I’m thinking that Jeff’s going to have to go to the shed and get the shovel and put the poor (but disgusting) thing out of its misery.  This is not going to make anyone’s night…not mine, not Jeff’s, certainly not the possum’s.  I stand up to go give him the good news, just as the possum raises its head…it looks around, gets to its feet, gives itself a good shake and then trots on off to the bushes.  The tip of its gross, pink rat-tail had just vanished under the boxwoods as Jeff comes out of the kitchen and into the garage.  He has donned his rubber gloves and has the possum disposal bag in hand.  His jaw is set as he gets ready to do his manly duty…and I have to tell him that the possum was, well, playin’ possum.  It had lain there mouth open, eyes glassy, fur matted in the torrential downpour for AT LEAST 15 minutes, and then just trotted off!!  We both go back inside, Jeff stripping off the rubber gloves…to be confronted by Rosie...who is in quite a state.  She is giving us such a REPROACHFUL look that I can almost hear what she is thinking which must have been something like, “I am a three-legged dog…do you KNOW how often I see any kind of action like that?  Not only do you call me OFF my possum, but then you let it get away.” I did the only thing I could do to make amends…I gave her some bacon and promised her I’d tell EVERYONE what a brave, brave dog she was for “gitin’ that possum.” 

R.I.P., sweet girl.  I will miss you.