IN MEMORY OF ROSIE
My Greyhound Rosie died very suddenly on August 11, 1998. She died of heart failure caused by cancer that we didn't even know she had. The end was quick and almost painless, thank goodness. She was almost 12 years old.
Rosie came to live with me in March 1989. She was about 2-1/2 years old then. Her racing career was brief. I remember the trainer saying that the other dogs outran her "like she was tied to a post". She had wonderful running form but not enough speed. Horizontally. Vertical speed was another story. At the farm where she was trained, Rosie would scale a 6-foot fence easily when other dogs were running on the training track. She couldn't stand not to be running when the lure was moving. After that they had to keep her indoors when they were using the training track. No rabbit was safe when she was around, either. Here at home we always had to go outside at night and scare the rabbits out of our yard before we let Rosie out. Otherwise they were goners. We like to say that in our neighborhood the rabbits are fast and smart. Rosie has removed all the slow, stupid ones from the gene pool.
When she came home in 1989, Rosie was a wild child. She lived with me, my older Greyhound and my bullmastiff in a 2-bedroom apartment. Housetraining came somewhat more slowly to her than I would have liked. All her life she had a habit of lying on her back with her feet in the air. I never got a picture of her like that, and I wish I had. This habit scared the staff at the animal hospital where she was spayed. Several hours after the surgery, she was lying on her back with her legs in the air like a dead bug in a cartoon, and they were afraid she was dead!
About a year after Rosie came home, I met Jim, my husband. Rosie liked to taunt Jim's dog, Pica, a German shepherd/Doberman mix. One day they got into a fight, even though they were on opposite sides of a fence. Pica managed to bite Rosie on the top of her head. After the vet patched her up, I had to put a warm compress on her head several times a day. As pitiful as she looked, I couldn't help but laugh: with a pink washcloth draped over her head, she looked like an extremely ugly little old lady from the "old country."
She continued to excel at climbing. One day she scaled a 4-foot fence to try to be with us in the front yard when we were washing the car. She took off into the neighborhood with us in hot pursuit. As you know, trying to catch a running Greyhound is pretty much a futile exercise. Luckily we caught up with her when she stopped to eat our neighbor's cat's food. We also discovered that she had a taste for fruit, especially watermelon rinds. All her life, no watermelon rind was safe when she was around. She also ate apples, oranges, and tomatoes. She could eat an entire loaf of bread in under 30 seconds. She stole all of these things from countertops when I forgot to put them out of her reach.
Rosie had other strange tastes in "edibles". She chewed up several wristwatches and a digital thermometer. She also chewed up and swallowed used razor cartridges! The first time this happened we had to have the razors removed surgically. Incredibly, it happened again just this past summer. This time the razors passed through with no ill effects, other than major anxiety on my part. In both cases I was more traumatized than she was because I was so worried about her.
Rosie was a comical, mischievous dog - we called her the "clown princess". She was also sweet, affectionate, and demanding of affection. She developed a habit of nudging my elbow hard to let me know she wanted to be petted. This could be annoying or endearing, depending on whether I was doing something that required a steady hand. She was one of those dogs who is only marginally well-behaved, but she got away with it because she was so charming. She had mastered the art of being cute. She slowed down with age, but her bouncy, friendly personality never changed. Right after she died, I couldn't believe she was gone. Her death had been so sudden,with no warning. I kept expecting her to come through the door, as if she'd been asleep in the other room. Our other Greyhound, Lonnie, seemed dejected and a little disoriented. He didn't like being left alone; he was now an "only dog".
In the weeks since Rosie's death, we've adopted another Greyhound, a brindle female named Fay. She's like Rosie in some ways: she lies on her back, she follows me everywhere, and she loves to eat. So far she's shown no interest in wristwatches or razor blades, thank goodness! I'm already getting fond of Fay, and I'm glad she's with us. Looking for a new Greyhound helped the process of healing from the pain of losing Rosie. It was good to know that there were many wonderful dogs waiting to be adopted, and that we could accomplish something good (both for ourselves and for the dog) by bringing one of them into our family.
I commemorated Rosie with a stone engraved with her name and the years of her birth and death. It's in the front yard next to the one I had made for Silk, my first Greyhound, who died in 1996 after 11 years with me.
Someone once said that the difference in lifespan between people and dogs is one of God's cruel jokes. I'm not sure I agree. When I think of how painful it is to lose a dog after 9 or 10 years, I can't imagine what it would be like after 20, 30, or more years. Maybe dogs' lives are so short for a reason: perhaps we bond so strongly to them that our grief at their passing would be too much to bear otherwise.
Farewell, my little Rosie, clown princess of Greyhounds. I miss you and I'll always remember you. You brought a lot of joy and laughter into my life, and you were a good, good friend. Wherever you are now, I hope there's lots of watermelon rinds to eat and rabbits to chase. You deserve nothing less. May we be together again some day.