Writing about dogs: RIP to the king of canines

betty ming liu Health, Inspiration 16 Comments

One glance at his Match.com photo and I knew. He was big and strong, with a magnificent head of hair. Roscoe also proved to be a total gentleman: attentive, kind and fun. Within weeks, he pretty much moved in with me as part of a package deal. It was love at first sight with Roscoe, a black-and-tan Belgian Shepherd — and, his human.

We all found each other two and a half years ago, when my search for romance felt like an exercise in futility. Sure, I met some nice guys and got out of the house. But the sparky connection and conversation that my soul craved? Forget about it. That is, until Roscoe.

Love at first sight, finally

Mellow and infinitely sociable, Roscoe proved himself to be the ultimate wingman. He’d nuzzle my hand, looking for a head scratch. He wanted a sign that I cared, that I was capable of hope and trust. At 13, the friendly, wise, old boy trained me to bond with him, and, my future old man.

Man and dog started spending more and more time with me until we somehow ended up together nearly 24/7. There was also another dog, his sister Leah, who died of old age soon after our collective first date.

Bf, my new boyfriend, wondered if Roscoe would keel over from heartbreak at losing his sibling. Instead, he rallied and adopted me and my daughter. Whenever she came home from college, he wagged his massive, fluffy tail, welcoming her back. Along with our cats, Roscoe embraced us all. We became his new pack.

roscoe collage

He carried on with his reconfigured family until two weeks ago. Sadly, a tumor under his left eye led to increasingly violent fits of bloody sneezing that sapped his energy and appetite. As hard as it was, we ended his suffering and put him to sleep. The vet told us not to feel bad. Roscoe was 15-1/2, making him around 105 in dog years.

With my daughter home now from college for the summer, the three of us continue to miss our dog every single day. I still feel the presence of Roscoe, an ancient animal who occupied his turf so completely. A calm, loving guardian, he constantly checked on everyone’s whereabouts; the shepherd genes had him following us from room to room. He seemed happiest whenever we were all together within his sight lines.

He changed the physicality of my life. Truly big and strong, at 80 lbs., he could look scary. Even though he never growled or snarled, he had ferocious, pointy teeth. Walking him gave me an unfamiliar sense of power because grown men would see us coming and hurry to cross the street. But kids were never afraid. They’d spot us down the block and run over, taking great pleasure in running their fingers through the thick, soft coat of our huge, beautiful beast.

He brought such stability to our daily routine. I’ll miss the long strolls in lovely weather, and even trudging with him through rain and snow. The car looks empty without him along for a ride, his tongue smearing saliva all over the rear windows, his stinky breath grossing us out. Our once-furry house feels too clean. Now, when I find a stray hair of his, I get happy instead of annoyed and think to myself, Roscoe!

Love you, old boy & thank you 

So, Roscoe, this post is for you. I feel better with your ashes scattered in the front yard under the hostas. You used to love laying there, hidden under their giant, fanning leaves. Camouflaged by the mulch and shadows, you’d disappear from view. Remember how you’d watch us running around in a panic, looking for you? We feared that you’d gotten out of the gate. Then, we’d suddenly spot your dark brown eyes shining through the greenery. Silly dog.

roscoe memorial

Rest in peace, sweet boy. You’ll always be a part of us.

Of course, now I’m weeping my way through this blog post. But it helps to share.

Before I get up to blow my nose, I’d just like to say that a dog is one of the best friends any human could ever have. If you’d never experienced this relationship, consider taking one (or more) into your life. Dogs teach me so much about unconditional love.

More about a dog’s life, dogs & life

If you’d like some ideas of what dogs can offer, here are my earlier posts:

And if you want to read books about dogs:

Thanks for reading and being here with me. I’d love to hear your doggie tales. Share your memories with me or send me a thought; they would be comforting. If you have questions about adopting a dog, ask away. There’s room for much, much more love in the world. And dogs can deliver it. xo

 

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Comments 16

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  1. Doralee Halperin

    Betty, I am so very sorry for the loss of Roscoe. Five years after the death of my beloved Lucy, I still miss her every day. We set ourselves up for heartbreak when we invite a dog into our lives but it’s worth it– every hairy, slobbery, butt wiggly, panting, barking moment. Rest in peace, Roscoe. Good boy.

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      betty ming liu

      Yes, Doralee, missing them comes with the territory. And just in case the cat people are wondering, I also sobbed over putting Lucky to sleep too. I’m such a pet lady!

  2. Andrea

    I am so sorry for your loss, Betty. But also happy that you could share your life with Roscoe. I still remember when you adopted little Rosebud. There will be another dog coming into your life. One day. They always find us.

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      betty ming liu

      Andrea, you’re a great example of animal connectivity. I love my senior dogs, starting with Rosebud. When Roscoe came along, my daughter said, hmmm, now you got yourself another old dog without having to go out and get an old dog! You’re right, the next one will show up when it’s time.

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  3. Tobias Grace

    There can be no friend so sincere, so devoted or so selfless as a dog. I am very sorry for your loss. An old friend of mine once said “I don’t know if there is such a thing as Heaven but if there is, and my old dogs aren’t there waiting for me, I’m not going in.” I feel the same way about certain cats that have shared life with me, including the one that is sitting on my knee as I write this. If there is any justice in the universe, Roscoe will be waiting for you when that inevitable day comes.

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      betty ming liu

      Thanks, Toby! What a poignant thought from your friend. I still have two cats. They’re getting a lot more attention these days. I’m enjoying the image of you and your kitty, sharing this moment with me. :)

  4. Cassandra

    Our Sanoe had to be put to sleep at 15 last year as well. She use to push the bathroom door open if we didn’t close it completely just to see who was in there. She was looking for her man friend who was off at the gym or at the hardware store. I’ve had the door open like that several times since she’s been gone. The thing I remember most about her was her soft floppy reddish brown ears. She was part pit bull and Rhodesian Ridgeback. The vet sent my husband her paw print in ink on a condolences card. That really made me cry because no way would Sanoe have let you touch her front paws. Then I knew for certain that she was really gone.

    And yes, you made me cry all the way through your piece on Roscoe. Your advice about adopting another dog is good but we are too old already and have to prepare the house for sale in 3 years as well as downsize to move to a small apartment. Many places in Honolulu do not allow pets. We tried fostering for the Hawaii Humane Society for 3 weeks and it broke our hearts to have to give Mike back (they called him Spike) because he was pit bull/Mastiff and surely going to be chained outside someone’s home as a “fierce” watchdog when all he wanted to do was lie inside in the shade and be affectionate!

    When will we ever see a picture of you and Roscoe’s friend or does your Asian culture make you feel like it would be bad luck? Maybe if you guys decide to get married then we’ll get to see a picture of the bride and groom (or even bride and bride nowadays).

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      betty ming liu

      Cassandra, I feel for you! Sanoe sounds adorable. We got a paw print card too. I’ve always wanted a pit bull; they are much-maligned by terrible press coverage. There’s a pitty at my neighborhood health food store, the sweetest, gentlest dog. One of our local shelters has neutered, senior and middle-aged female pit bulls that no one wants. Maybe someday.

      At the moment, I’m not ready for another dog — I need time to grieve. I’m sorry to hear that the housing situation will limit your doggy options. But sounds look you are finding other alternatives, even if it is hard to give up a foster pup.

      As for a photo of the bf, the issue has nothing to do with Asian culture. It’s blogging culture, which knows no color! Bloggers are a pain because our partners have no privacy. So I’m doing my best to respect boundaries. Someday, things might change. :)

      Good luck with your home sale and reorganizing. These are huge steps. You’re brave!

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  5. Ginger

    RIP so so sorry for your loss. I never knew what it meant to have a true k9 best friend until we adopted our Bodhi boy 5 years ago. Our first venture into the k9 world, he is our first and only lovely doggie. He single ‘handedly’ changed my life. I sat around one
    day after having him about a year, realizing that there are other doggies out there that may not have it so good. So that’s when I got involved in volunteer work at the shelter and rescuing other doggies became my passion. I have rescued many doggies and I can thank my Bodhi boy for helping to raise my consciousness. He makes me a much better human being….

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      betty ming liu

      Ginger, how great that you’re into the animal rescue world. Rosebud did for me what Bodhi did for you. Relationships and friendships that take me beyond my comfort zone are so rewarding. Life-changing, right? Thanks for sharing about your precious pooch. Makes me feel good to hear about your special bond. :)

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