May 28, 2016

One glance at his 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