This has been a very sad week for my husband. Last Thursday, he awoke at his usual pre-dawn time to discover his beloved dog had suffered a stroke in the night. The poor old puppy could barely stand. He was sick and disoriented, although not really in that much pain.
There’s a twenty-four hour animal hospital in the next town, and we were able to get him in immediately. Sadly, the dog was just too ill to save.
Mr. Ashbury thought of Rochie (short for Ferocious, which this dog certainly was not) as his best friend. He’d had the animal for most of the dog’s 14 years. Rochie had been born to the golden lab our daughter had, and was a lab-border collie cross. Originally, this black furry puppy with a white star on his chest was our grandson’s. But when the family moved to the next city, the townhouse they rented only allowed them to have one dog.
Our daughter announced she would try to find a home for this not yet one-year-old pup and asked her daddy if he could keep the animal here while she “looked for a new home” for him.
Ha! I’ll never know why he didn’t see that one coming. Or maybe, he did.
You have to know it took practically no time at all for her daddy to offer to keep the dog. Our grandson was thrilled, of course. At four years old, he had been devastated to think he would never see his puppy again.
My husband and I both worked at the time, and had to employ a crate for our newest family member during the day time, until he was trained and past the chew stage. That didn’t sit well with our grandson at all, as I recall. You would be interested to know the dog himself was fine with it. He was a very easy-going dog.
Rochie grew to be a fairly big canine, and he was absolutely devoted to my husband. He loved to go on walks, and he loved to play with his “Squeaky” toy. He loved his collar and did not like to have it off, for any reason. The only thing he really hated, in fact, was bath time.
Every evening when my husband would come home from work, the dog would run around and literally cry with joy. He would pull his leash down from the coat hook in the hall, and would run around the house with the leash in his mouth—always my husband’s end of the leash, of course—until his daddy took the hint and walked him.
Rochie would mope whenever the suitcases came out, because he knew his daddy was going away. One time, he even dropped Squeaky into my husband’s open suitcase—a hint if ever I saw one.
The dog understood just about everything you said to him, and yet he could not prevent his chain from getting tangled in the back yard, around the same obstacle that had been there for all of the 12 years was chained up in that exact spot.
In the last two years we fenced the yard, so he could enjoy the great outdoors without the restriction of metal.
Rochie may have growled at the occasional passing dog or human, but he never so much as nipped at anyone. He liked some cats—in the house—but outside considered them fair game to chase, if he could. The only exception to that rule was my daughter’s cat MoJo—who of late is no longer her cat, but still comes to visit us from whichever neighborhood home he’s living in at the moment, nonetheless. MoJo and Rochie loved each other and would often nuzzle.
Every Sunday morning when I would make my beloved his big Sunday breakfast, I cooked a sausage link for the dog. If we had hamburgers for dinner, the dog got one too. Daddy would make it for him after we were done eating. If you were wondering, Rochie liked margarine, cheese and sometimes mayo on his burger.
His daddy was always Rochie’s first choice for human company, unless, of course there were fireworks being set off in the neighborhood. Then, it was mommy he wanted. When he was still capable of jumping up onto our bed, which he couldn’t do for the last couple of years, he would try to get under me, no doubt trusting me to save him from the pyrotechnics.
In the bio that’s posted at the back of my novels, I refer to Rochie as a dog with no dignity, and that was very true. But he had an endless supply of doggy grins, which he bestowed on any and all who would come to the house to visit him, and he had a heart bigger than his eighty pounds.
Our pets are truly members of our families, and when they pass, we cannot help but mourn them. And we take time to remember the love and the joy they gave us, and know that we’ve been truly blessed. I have no doubt that my beloved will meet his puppy again at the rainbow bridge.
After all, dog, spelled backwards, is God.