Girl's Best Friend

{I know that many of you were hoping (expecting?) for a post about our weekend. And that's coming, soon. I'm still processing my thoughts on that...and, this has post has been weighing heavy on my heart, so it gets priority.}

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It's been [almost] three months since we said goodbye to Roxy. It's hard to believe, because some days the pain is so raw still that it feels like yesterday. Other days, I forget what it was like to walk her, feed her, cuddle her or pet her. I've been putting this post off since, well, I'm not great with emotionally heavy posts. I struggle to get my thoughts together or convey a thought. But, I'm starting to forget little things already... and that is horrifying to me.

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Roxy was never on this blog as much as she should have been... but at least I can give her one hell of a final post. Or try to at least. So here is, one jumbled series of memories... because really, that's all I can manage.

Roxy came home with us on May 23rd, 2003. It was the day after we came home from our honeymoon... and my birthday. Obviously, Doug hadn't yet realized that when I say "I think we should investigate XYZ," I was really saying "I think we should do this, and I'll just wait until you agree with me." I'm kidding. Kind of. We never even had Roxy on our radar screen when we went to look at the adoptable dogs. But once we saw her in her crate, it was all over. Many dog owners will tell you that "the dog picked them"... this was definitely the case with Roxy. She chose us. And she was the boss from that day on.

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Prior to coming to us, she raced for almost three years. She was perfectly average... meaning she placed in 50% of her races, and didn't place in 50%. How does one do that?! She also never lost three times in a row (which would have sent her to retirement) or won more than a couple of times in a row. Really?!

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Upon arriving at our third floor walk-up condo for the first time, we realized that Roxy had never seen stairs before. We opened the door with a prancing, excited dog, who froze (aka "statued") when we opened the door. No amount of coaxing could get her to willingly go up the stairs... so Doug had to help her climb them by placing each and every paw in place for every. single. step. After forty five minutes, we got her upstairs... where she immediately decided she had to go "use the facilities." Outside. Of course.

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Crate training was equally successful. It went something like this: Put Roxy in crate. Roxy whines, non-stop, all night. No one sleeps. Night two: Put Roxy in crate. Roxy whines all night long, only this time we are "sleeping" on couch cushions on the floor next to the crate. Again, no one sleeps. Night three: We put her fluffy pillow bed in our bedroom. Roxy climbs on, and goes to sleep. And the rest is history.

See?! I told you she was the boss!

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Like most dogs, she had a love of peanut butter. And cheese. And carbs. Pizza crust was her favorite!

She was one of the biggest mooches I've ever met. Especially if there were Cheez-its or popcorn involved.

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In her first months home, every time we would leave... Roxy would create a collection of "treasures" in her bed. It usually consisted of shoes, laundry, and the occasional book. It was like her security blanket... she'd surround herself with our scent. As we were headed down the stairs, we would hear her nails on the hardwood floors as she scampered around, gathering her "loot." Years later, when she was sure we were coming back, she would skip all that, and head for the couch... which was strictly forbidden at the time. When she heard us coming home, she'd jump down and scoot over to her bed, where she'd greet us with her sweetest, most innocent, look. Too bad the drool spot on the couch never failed to give her away.

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Roxy was a very quiet dog. She barely ever barked. She whined plenty... but the true bark was rare. Unless we encountered the poodles that lived around the corner. Then it was as though she had been possessed by the spirit of KUJO. She would rear up on her hind legs, barking and snarling, straining at the leash, as soon as she saw them. It was the oddest thing, and we never did figure out why she would do that.

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Speaking of her interactions with other dogs... she had her share of friends (especially in this hood) but she had one horrific run-in with a pair of Bull Mastiffs. In a true scenario of "person who should never have dogs," we encountered a pair of *bad* Bull Mastiffs (Bull Mastiffs in general are dogs with very sweet temperaments... but when they are bad, they are evil.) that were coupled on one leash, being walked by a woman who maybe weighed in at 110lbs. Keep in mind that Mastiffs weigh well over 100lbs EACH. They dragged her across four lanes of busy traffic to attack Roxy. Roxy saw the attack coming, and the only thing she did?! Step in front of me. She did nothing to provoke it, but took the attack on. She had torn skin and organs, and holes the size of my fist. I had no idea how bad it was at the time... but I knew I needed to get to the vet. Luckily they were two blocks away, otherwise that may have been where her story ended. The other owner?! Ran the other way. Lowlife. (Don't worry though... the next time I saw her was on the news when there was a story of a woman was attacked by her dogs, who ripped her arm off. Karma.)

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Like many greyhounds, she had seriously stinky toots. And she'd often toot when scared. Needless to say, we avoided scaring her at all costs.

She also liked to "cockroach" while sleeping. Oh-so-ladylike, our Roxy.

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For the most part, Roxy was a true couch potato... but she also perfected the art of running donuts around the living room. At 40ish miles an hour. It was a sight to see. She also loved to charge around the yard... playing keep away. But jog on a leash?! No, thank you. That was exercise and clearly not part of her job description of couch potato.

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We moved to this house, in part, because of the awesome yard. We thought she would love being able to just jaunt out, do what she needed to, then come back in. Guess who decided she still needed three walks a day, and would persist until she got them? She was too much of a nosey body for our plan. The joke was clearly on us. Because of course we didn't realize this until after we put in the high-end fence!

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Until her very last days, the sight of a leash would make her, literally, jump for joy.

Her nickname of Doodles was given by Doug who used to call her "Roxy Roxy Doooo!" (a la Scooby Doo) The Doodles was a segway that stuck.

She loved walking on the beach... and splashing in the waves.

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I won't say we made her world a brighter place when Spencer came home, but I will say they grew to love each other. (If you want to see cute videos of them, click here.) Let's just say, she had the perfect balance of tolerance and ability to put him in his place...

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Love.

{the final days}

And finally, two of my favorite stories about Roxy Doodles:

When the movie Seabiscuit came out on DVD, we purchased it almost immediately because we loved the book so much. (It's one of the very few movies we actually own.) Roxy hadn't been home all that long at that point. You may recall that there is a horserace very early on in the movie. As soon as it started, Roxy's ears went up. Very quickly she jumped off the bed... and ran to look behind the TV. (Where the speakers, and hence the sound, were coming from.) After looking back there for a few seconds, she looked over at us with a confused look... wondering where all the dogs were. You can take the dog out of the race... but you can't take the race out of the dog. We never watched that movie again.

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One day, we were taking Roxy on a long walk that passed by several alleys. In one alley she paused longer than others, investigating a dumpster. Doug and I were deep in conversation about something, so didn't pay much attention when she started walking again... this time at a much quicker gate, but it felt off. We looked down to find her carrying a whole Italian baguette in her mouth. The thing was easily 3 feet long, and pulling her head to the side since she was off balance. She was determined to get her goodie home though, and wouldn't give it up, no matter how hard we pulled.

The day we said goodbye to Roxy, this was the sunset:

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It's easily one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. My friend Kelly said that maybe it was her way of telling us it was going to be ok. While we are still very far from ok, I do feel that we're starting to heal... very slowly. The little "ambushes" (as my Dad calls them) of unexpected Roxy things popping up don't always bring me to tears. One even made me smile. I can finally look at photos without crying, and I may even frame and hang one. Baby steps.

That said, our hearts and home still have a significant piece missing. One that I expect to be there a very long time. But I guess that is to be expected when you lose someone you love.

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The Last Battle

If it should be that I grow frail and weak And pain should keep me from my sleep, Then will you do what must be done, For this - - the last battle - - can't be won.

You will be sad I understand, But don't let grief then stay your hand, For on this day, more than the rest, Your love and friendship must stand the test.

We have had so many happy years, Through happiness, laughter, sadness and tears. You wouldn't want me to suffer so. When the time comes, please, let me go.

Take me to where to my needs they'll tend, Only stay with me until the end And hold me firm and speak to me Until my eyes no longer see.

I know in time you will agree It is a kindness you do to me. Although my tail its last has waved, From pain and suffering I have been saved.

Don't grieve that it must be you Who has decided this thing to do. We've been so close, we two, these years Don't let your heart hold any tears.

~Author Unknown