My family is from Ottumwa, IA and growing up in Nebraska didn’t stop me from visiting during the summers and winters when I was a kid. My brother, cousin, and I would always take trips to Iowa to visit our grandparents and other relatives for a week at a time. In the summer of 2009, my cousin and I traveled to Iowa with my grandmother for our annual visit. One of our many stops on our trip was a visit to my cousin Cindy’s farm outside of town. When we arrived, Cindy immediately showed us the litter of puppies her six month old rat terrier had a few weeks ago.
I watched the five puppies squirm in the grass, their legs wobbling with each step. All the puppies ran together and huddled into a heap on the grass, with a single lone puppy a few feet away. I picked him up as he squirmed like a fish out of water and held him tightly in my arms. As he licked my face, still fidgeting, I looked at my grandmother and said, “I have to have it.” She called my mom and after a long phone call my mom answered “maybe”. Not the right answer, but halfway.
When we left Cindy’s farm, I said goodbye to the puppy, but knew I was coming back for her. Later that night at my Aunt Brenda’s house my mom called me and told me we don’t need another dog and kiss my dreams goodbye. I’m shy in public, but I’ve always been a Broadway star with the speed at which I can cry and have a melodramatic fit. I cried for hours, annoying the rest of my family, but also gaining enough pity for my cousin to call my mother again. When she answered the phone he said, “Renee, just let her have that damn dog, the crying won’t stop.” My dramatic ass heard my wish come true, and I was looking forward to bringing this dog home. My grandma took me shopping at Pamida’s to pick out all the supplies I would need to take care of my new best friend on the way back to Fremont, Ne.
The four of us were on the way home and I was delighted to introduce my puppy to my schnauzer, Yaeger, at home. Honestly the drive was easy if I remember correctly. She just hung out and we pulled over on the way to get her to come out and release some energy in the park of stops. When I got home my brother Nathan was delighted that we had a new dog, but my mom still wasn’t a fan. She decided that Nathan had to name the puppy since I had chosen him. Nathan didn’t have any great ideas, so he picked my mom’s first choice, Roxy. From that day forward, Roxy terrorized our house for about three and a half years. I have lost a lot of socks, blankets, sheets, pencils and meals to this dog every day since he arrived.
My mom repeatedly made empty threats out of frustration to get rid of Roxy, due to her destructive and chaotic behavior that she always maintained 100%. There are a lot of bad things Roxy has done, but there are a lot of bad things that she hasn’t done as well. For example, when she was about two years old, she ran through the front door and immediately targeted a woman with a stroller. She jumped up and put her front paws on the stroller, but at least didn’t put her face in it. Another time, Roxy and Yaeger both went out, but Roxy crossed the street to the park to smell the flowers. As for Yaeger, my mother found him walking cautiously on the sidewalk, strolling around the neighborhood. Roxy also holds the award for being the only dog I know to eat a box of 64 pencils and walk away with pride. The first three years that Roxy felt like letting a monster terrorize us in our own home, but her charm made us all wait for her evil first stages in life. We knew she would become a calmer bitch soon enough that wouldn’t ruin our business without remorse but still had the same wacky, lovable charm.
Roxy grew up to be a mature, calmer dog, she grew up right next to me. She greeted me every morning when my alarm clock rang, she greeted me at the door when I came home from school, and finally worked every day. Every day she did something stupid to make me laugh, and she brightened up every day of our lives. She made a good day a good day and a sad day a better day. Whenever I was upset, crying in my room, Roxy would come in and join me on my bed. She would jump up and lie down next to me, lick my face a few times, then just sit down with her head on my leg. She sat with me and just kept me company during my sad times, comforting me until I felt good again.
Roxy has lived a great life having endless tennis balls and the ones that are meant to be indestructible. I say supposed to be, because she found a few yet to rip those Kong balls and ragged Frisbees. She loved taking possession of one of our beds, snuggling up in the blankets and lying in peace. She also liked her dog beds very much, although she used to never sleep in them. Most of the time, she slept next to her dog bed, with just her head and front paws on it. Her favorite foods were green beans, peas, carrots, and whatever dog treats you throw at her. Roxy’s greatest athletic talent was being the ultimate receiver of balls and treats. Any tennis ball, a slice of bacon, a chicken nugget, whatever you got, if you tossed her so she would catch it in her mouth, she had no problem every time.
Her favorite activities were car rides, walks around Johnson Lake, playing foraging, stealing any food she could spot, barking at neighbors, and passing cars through the living room window. She was the star of the show in my family and has completely occupied our hearts since 2007. Last month, while I was here in Wayne, my mom noticed that Roxy seemed to be slowing down. She moved less, ate less dog food, and seemed to just signal that something was wrong.
11 days ago, as of this writing on October 30th, Roxy’s vet diagnosed her with lymphoma. We were told he had three months to live, and we were cut short to 11 days today, October 30, to say goodbye to our sweet daughter. At 12, she became softer with age. She loved us all every day and I have never felt so grateful that I cried my eyes on a family trip and made a scene. I would donate my entire collection of fun patterned socks to find my best friend safe and healthy. I could sit outside in the cold weather and spend countless nights wishing every star this dog would come back to me, but I’m not in denial, just heartbroken.
How to say goodbye in 11 days? My mom kept her comfortable at home by watching her closely. Even while she was working, she frequently checked on Roxy throughout the day with the two dog cameras she had set up in the living room. Roxy got lots of extra treats, more green beans at dinner time, and lots of love from my parents, brother and me. You can’t mourn the loss of a 12-year friendship in 11 days, but around this time you can thank them for everything they’ve done for you. I left Wayne on Thursday October 28 and went home to see my daughter and do just that. I brought my cat, Tickles, inside with me and as always, Roxy greeted me at the door and walked over to her dog bed, actually stretching all the way over this time. I put Tickles on the couch before walking over to the side table.
I laid down on the floor next to Roxy and stroked her, thanking her for all she did to bring joy and happiness to my childhood, my teenage years and my adult life. I thanked her for cuddling with me, even though it wasn’t her favorite thing. I thanked her for always making me smile when she could tell I was in pain and listened to my ugly crying all these years. I thanked her for never barking and never attacking me when I walked in / out of the house (sorry mum but it’s been three years, how crazy can you be?) I thanked her for ‘ending her phase of fleeing in front of the door while we were shopping for groceries or running out the back door while my mom was mowing. I thanked her for helping my mom, Nathan, and I were all grieved when we said goodbye to our first four-legged family member, Yaeger, in 2017, as she also mourned the loss of her boyfriend herself. Dogs provide the kind of love and cuteness that is unlike any other. Be nice to your dog and he will be nice to you. Show them love, plush beds and blankets, kindness and lots of great pets and they will be the best friend you ever had until the end.
Every star has an end, and sometimes you want to get it back. Roxy was the star of our family, and I know we would all have done anything to spend more time with her. She was truly one of a kind, there will never be another like her. Our obsession with our adorable dog has caused my mom, Nathan and I to all take hundreds of photos of her over the years. Glad my mom made us take some fanatic photos Nathan is slowly converting as we have hundreds of sweet and fun photos to look at that have documented our time with our new Guardian Angel. We loved him from the start, and when my stepdad met my mom in 2011, he fell in love with our goofy dog as well.
Although we didn’t know we were saying goodbye in 11 days, we made it through those 11 days, we knew she was sick by returning every ounce of love she gave us over our 12 years with she. It’s incredibly hard to say goodbye to your best friend in 11 days, but each of us has done our best and best in that short amount of time. From the moment I picked her up from the litter of puppies on Cindy’s farm, to stroking her head and giving her one last kiss, I’ve loved her every moment and every step of her journey. .