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Dear Roxy

IMG_5692Dear Roxy,

As I type this the tears are already filling my eyes and my heart aches to be with you for just one more minute. The thought that you’re not here is so surreal and I wonder when I’ll stop expecting to see you in your bed out of the corner of my eye or to hear the slow click of your nails as you walk across the room to get some water. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, maybe it’s because you were always around.

You joined our family when I was 13 and left it shortly after you turned 13. I remember insisting to my dad that we get a dog from the pound. It was winter break, between Christmas and New Years, if I remember correctly. I don’t remember what shelter it was, I don’t remember how many we visited or how many other dogs we looked at, all I remember was you. A little wiggly brown and black puppy in a kennel with a little black and white puppy that ironically (or maybe it’s just my memory playing tricks on me) looked exactly like your best friend who we got 5 years later, Einstein.

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It makes me sad to say this, but I don’t remember a lot about the first half of your life. I was a teenager, doing teenager things and at the time you and our other dog, Jasmine, were outside dogs. As I got older, I realized how to be a better mom to you and started bringing you indoors more. I only wish I had realized this from the start and I hope you aren’t mad at me. I remember when it was just you and Einstein. You were his big sister and he loved you so much, he still does to this day. You’ve always been his security blanket and I don’t know how he’s going to live without you, but I promise I’ll keep him safe.

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Do you remember the time Blaine and I brought you to Big Bear with us? It was our four year dating anniversary and we decided to bring you with us to the little cabin we rented for the weekend. I remember walking you along the lake and you bolting into the freezing water in the middle of October to try and get the ducks. You were already slowing down and nothing made me happier than seeing you so excited and energetic. Do you remember the trouble you got into? We came back to the cabin from going out and you had scratched up the door so bad that we, on our anniversary trip, drove all over Big Bear trying to find paint to fix it. We fixed it up and forgave you. I hope you’ll forgave us for scaring you and making you think that we’d leave you there.

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When we moved to Tehachapi you fell in love with the snow. There would be 4″ of snow piled on the deck at my parents house and you would happily lay in the snow chewing on a bone, not having a care in the world while the rest of us watched from the doorway. When we got our house I was so happy to be able to give you a huge back yard to retire in and I hope you liked your time here.

You were always the “best dog we’ve ever had”. You always knew exactly how to be the perfect dog, how to act and how to make us love you even more. The only downfall was your obsession with small animals, furiously digging up any gopher hole you came across. Even up until a few months ago when I would whistle and all you dogs would come to the back door, I could tell that you’d been digging because your nose would be covered in dirt. Even on your last day on this earth, after weeks of not really caring, you went out on top of the hill and stuck your nose in every hole almost as if you knew it was your last chance.

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As you got older and slowed down I secretly wondered how much time you had left. When I took you to the vet last year to get a check up, I wanted to make sure you were healthy and both the vet and I were surprised when everything came back totally clear. As winter settled in and it got colder, you got even slower. I watched you struggle to stand up everyday, but you still seemed happy. You had good days and bad days and still loved the warmth of the sun. But when your appetite went away two weeks ago, I got worried. Sometimes mixing in wet food worked, sometimes it didn’t. I bought half a dozen kinds of wet food and some chicken, ready to do anything to get you to eat.

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Just as your appetite came back, I watched you have a seizure. It wasn’t anything like I expected it to be so I wasn’t sure at first, but when I looked it up, I knew that’s what had happened. That’s when the vomiting started. All these symptoms surfaced so quickly I started to get scared and went from thinking it was old age to something might be wrong. So we went to the vet. I was a little nervous, but you had been been given clean bill of health a couple of months ago so I wasn’t ready for what would happen next.

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Roxy, it seems that your liver had given up. When I asked him how quickly you’d decline, he told me “she could pass as soon as tonight” and my heart almost stopped beating. He told me there were some other things that could cause some of these test results, but he was fairly sure your liver was failing and that the other things it could be wouldn’t be easy to treat either. I hope I’m remembering these details correctly, but once he walked in the door with your results and shook his head everything around me turned into a huge blur. He told me it was my choice, but if you were his dog, he’d let you go before you started to suffer.

I remember them taking you back to give you some fluids to help you get through the night comfortably while we decided what to do. But I knew what I had to do. For you. I remember sitting in that waiting room forever, looking at every sign on the wall, every spot on the floor, trying to keep my eyes and my mind busy so I wouldn’t cry. When you came out, I walked you outside, lifted you into the car, as soon as I sat in the divers seat I lost it. We drove home and I let you out back with everyone else. Blaine came out to see what the vet said and all I could do was shake my head, I couldn’t find the words to say that we had to let you go.

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That night we put the blow up mattress in the family room and spent the night in there with you, just in case you needed us. I must have gotten less than two hours of sleep that night. The next day I made calls to vets, trying to find someone to let you pass here, at home, with all of us around you. I didn’t want you to be scared, Roxy. But no one would do it. So I spent the day in that room with you, only leaving to go to the bathroom or to go outside with you. I could tell by the look on your face that you were tired and that my emotions were stressing you out so I tried not to smother you too much, you had no idea what was happening and I had to try to be strong for you.

When I heard Blaine pull into the driveway my heart stopped, it was time. We got everyone in the car, cut up some chicken I had made for you and took you on your usual tiny walk to the neighbors and back. I cried the whole time and you slowly walked behind us like any other day. Then we put you in the car and drove to the vet. When we got there Blaine checked us in and I took you on a little walk out in the field. You were way more interested in sniffing around than you had been in weeks and I started to panic. Was the diagnosis wrong? Were you getting better? Did you know this was your last chance to enjoy nature? Before I could run away with you Blaine said they were ready and we were led to the room. We all waited there as a family: you, me, Blaine and the rest of the dogs. The tears had already started to flow before we got there and we fed you little pieces of chicken and comforted you. But you were oblivious, I hope, so we were really just comforting ourselves. I almost got up and took you out of there a hundred times, but I knew I couldn’t. When they took you in the back to put a catheter in your leg we waited for what seemed like forever for you to come back.

You walked back in slowly and sat on the blanket the placed on the floor for you. This was it, this was happening. My heart started to race. Everything was happening so fast, I wanted to throw up. We loved on you, cried for you and as the vet tech injected you, you slowly laid down for the last time. And then it was over. It was so quick, I was expecting to have a few more seconds to look into your eyes and tell you we love you, but you were facing the other way and I don’t know if you saw me.

Roxy, we love you and I hope that you felt it in your last moments. I hope you weren’t scared. After the vet tech let us know you were gone she gave us some privacy. I don’t know how long we were in there, everything was happening so fast. All I remember was petting you, burying my face in your side and sobbing as I ran my fingers through your fur and kissed you on the head. Your fur was wet with tears and I remember sobbing so loudly that I knew the whole building could hear me, but I didn’t care – you were gone and it hurt more than I ever imagined.

When the vet tech came back in, I tried to gather my strength. I got on my knees, scratched you on the scruff of the neck and kissed you one last time, trying to engrave the way your fur felt in my mind forever. I knew this was the last time you would physically be there for me to hold, that I would never get to see, hear or touch you again.

After we loaded everyone into the back of the car Blaine and I sat in the car for a long time just crying. We finally drove home, Blaine got out and let your brothers and sister in and I just sat in the car. I couldn’t go inside. I knew you wouldn’t be there and the thought of going inside the house made me sick. After over an hour I was finally able to convince myself to walk inside. It’s so empty here without you, Roxy. I’ll never forget your signature move: we’d be sitting at the couch and you would paw at our knees or nudge our hands with your nose so we would pet you. I’m sorry for the times I patted you on the head and told you to go lie down because I was distracted. What I wouldn’t give for you to walk over and paw at me right now. We talked about how you hadn’t done that in a while, how you hadn’t done much but sleep lately. Maybe we did do the right thing for you, I hope so.

I know you’re ok now, I’d rather be hurting than for you to suffer. But I miss you so much already. Today I kept looking at your collar that Blaine hung on my car mirror, occasionally touching it as I drove. I even glanced at the last place you went to the bathroom, finding myself searching everywhere for any physical evidence that you existed.

It’s only been one day and I know in time I’ll heal. The pain will fade and, unfortunately, so will the memories. But, Roxy, always remember: you were my best girl, my old lady, my plox-anne, my foxy roxy (or whatever nickname we were using at the time) and my heart physically aches to have you here again. You were, and still are, loved and missed more than you’ll ever know.

Love always,

Your mom, Aileen

P.S. when I start to miss you, I like to think of this poem. And even though it makes me cry, I like to pretend it’s coming straight from you.

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45 Comments on “Dear Roxy

  1. Your letter to Roxy is making my cry (and cry). How well you capture the joy and pain of loving an animal. You did the right thing by bringing her suffering to an end. She’s happier now. I imagine that she is terrorizing gophers with youthful enthusiasm and energy.

  2. Aileen, I remember Bear’s last vividly. I still miss him. You will forever miss Roxie. I am glad I still miss Bear, 3 years later. I can feel his strength and his softness, his courage and the care he took for nearly 18 years.Lots of understanding. Sally

  3. I’m crying for you and for the pain I feel for the pups I’ve lost. I don’t have beautiful, our even comforting, words to type. Please know that another sometime out here feels your pain.

  4. I am so sorry, dear. Your letter sounded like I had written it. My Toby died last March of cancer. He was 10 yrs. old. I had him for 7 months after I found out he had it. Every day I would look at him and wonder if it was my last. When his appetite waned I bought all kinds of things to get him to eat, even baby food, which he did not like. It was heart wrenching and still is. He followed me everywhere I went. I still miss him so much. Maggie, my other dog finally stopped mourning last Dec. When he could no longer jump up on my bed, I put the springs and mattress on the floor, so he could. He always slept beside me. He was my precious baby boy. I hope your sorrow eases soon. Take care.,

    1. I’m sorry about Toby. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this feeling, that there are many out there who have loved their pups as much as I have.

  5. Oh Aileen – Im so sorry, You’re story has me crying and remembering my own ‘Roxanne” dog. You had the courage to write your feelings down and that my friend is a beautiful thing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts – and allowing so many of us to remember our bestest friends we lost and still love. You won’t forget her and your memories will live on forever! big hugs.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Cindy. It was a hard thing to right and I cried the whole time, but I felt lighter afterwards – like I had gotten out what I needed to say to start the healing process. <3

  6. Aileen, you & your family are in my thoughts! My heart hurts for all of you! Its so hard to lose one of our furbabies! Roxy will always be in your heart!! I lost a big beautiful 1 eyed german sheppard that I was blessed to rescue almost the same way! Thank you for sharing your story! (โ™ฅ)

  7. My dear,You are an awesome fur baby mama!! You give your fur babies a wonderful life. It really hurts when we have to make the decision to let them go, but we have to do what is right for them. Just know that you and Roxy will be together again some day at Rainbow Bridge.

    The Rainbows Bridge Poem
    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

    1. Thank you for leaving the Rainbow Bridge poem. It’s definitely comforting to think that she’s there, having fun & waiting for me to join her.

  8. You are an awesome fur baby mama!! You give your fur babies a wonderful life. It really hurts when we have to make the decision to let them go, but we have to do what is right for them. Just know that you and Roxy will be together again some day at Rainbow Bridge.The Rainbows Bridge Poem
    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

  9. I am sitting here at 5:00 in the morning in Massachusetts not only crying, but sobbing uncontrollably for your beautiful Roxy and the loving story you have told with your letter.I have felt the love and the pain you are feeling for many lost beloved pets and although it does get easier it never really goes away. Thank you for loving and sharing Roxy and stay strong for the rest of your family with and without fur.

    1. Thank you Jean! It’s amazing that her story has touched so many people that can relate to the heartbreak and love of losing a pet.

  10. As I read your tribute the tears roll down my checks. I feel your pain like mine all over again. We had to put our sweet girl to sleep dec 26th two years ago. I remember something about her everyday and still talk to her before I go to sleep every night. She was my soulmate in a fur child. Know it gets easier but not a day goes bye that something will remind you of her. Keep your memories close to your heart and know you did what was best for her. Don’t ever waste time thinking the “what if I did this or that game”. All that matters now is your girl is pain free running and digging without a care in the world. She will always be by your side in spirt. Just know that. Take care of yourself your husband and your fur babies they need you now. Take care michelle

    1. I’m so sorry about your girl. I talk to Roxy too. We planted an apple tree in her honor and I think that will be my place to go and visit her from now on. Thank you Michelle

  11. Aileen, I know there are no words that can ease your grief. But when you think of Roxy, remember how blessed you both were to have had each other. She knew only love her whole life, thanks to you. What a lucky dog she was! My wonderful dog Luke had known only abuse before we found each other. We only got to spend just over 3 years together, but our love for each other was intense. As he lay dying I cradled his head and with the other hand patted my heart and whispered in his ear, “Come to me, come to me, come to me, Luke.” And he did. He flew into my heart where he will live with me forever. Just where Roxy will always live with you.

    1. Thank you for sharing about Luke. What a wonderful way for him to go, in your arms. Thanks so much for your kind words, we are healing over here but still miss her!

  12. on 1/16 2012 I said goodbye to my Furend, He dashed down the driveway into the path of a speeding car. They didn’t bother to stop. I sit here crying for the both of us as I surely know your pain and even after 2 long years The thought of my sweet Gizmo brings a flood of tears.

  13. I’m so sorry about Roxy. Your letter is beautiful! I lost both of my dogs in 2011, it was awful, and it took me until this year to even be okay enough to get another dog. Love all the pictures! Roxy obviously had a fulfilling life and loving owners. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thank you. It must have been tough to lose two dogs in one year! I’m sorry for your loss, I’m sure your dogs were very loved!

  14. Aileen, I am so sorry for your loss. It is hard to loose out furry babies. You did the right thing to let her go in peace, she is no longer suffering. She is now in that beautiful paradise having a blast. When it is our time, we will see all of our fur babies on the other side of the rainbow where they are waiting for us.

    1. I definitely think we did the right thing, but when I miss her it can get tough to remember. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

  15. I have had 8 fur babies and had to put two of them down last September, So I do feel your pain. I now have only one left and she is 14, blind and has a liver problem, but I am doing more for her than I do for my husband. He’s ok with that. I think of all of them all the time, and will always miss them, but I do know they are all out of pain and running free “over the rainbow bridge” we will meet again. I have felt your pain too many times. But while they were all here they had the best care and most love that I always gave them. LOL Julie

  16. I am so sorry about Roxy. You have perfectly captured what it is like to send our beloved friends on to Heaven. That feeling of panic and wanting to pick them up and run! The moment their soul has left, how it happens so fast. I could completely relate to your experience, having lost my Casey to pancreatic cancer 3 years ago. Please know I am praying for your comfort and peace. Thank you for sharing your experience so freely, so openly. Peace be with you.

  17. Oh, Aileen…I am so sorry for your loss. Your letter to Roxy was so heartfelt that I cried for you both. It sounds like you were a wonderful mama to her and she loved her time with you; all those beautiful photos show how happy and well-cared for she was.(Visiting from the SITS tribe building week.)

  18. Oh my gosh, that just made me cry! Roxy looks so much like my Lucy, and Lucy has some of the same habits – nudging you with her nose or pawing at your leg when she wants your attention. Lucy was lying on the floor next to me and I made her get up so I could hug her. She didn’t know why I’d suddenly started crying and hugging and petting her and telling her what a good girl she is, but she didn’t mind.Animals are such wonderful creatures that touch our hearts, sometimes for just a very short time, and they make all the difference to us. Each day that they are gone it gets a little easier to bear, but you never get over it, and you never forget them. My heart still aches when I think about Sugar, the first cat I ever had. She lived a good long life and died seven years ago, but I still remember her purr, the way the fur on her belly curled, how she’d bump your hand to get attention.

    1. Lucy sounds like a sweetheart. Thank you for the sweet and thoughtful comment. It hasn’t even been a month yet and I still miss her like crazy, but it’s definitely easier.

  19. WOW what a beautiful love story you wrote to and about your dog. I really loved this on so many levels.I am not a dog person myself, but I have two middle-aged cats that I dread the day when they meet their maker.

    Hugs,

    Amee

  20. Beautiful post, Aileen. Pet lovers everywhere can identify with the depth of your pain and the emotional vacuum you feel at the loss of your beloved Roxy. You were a good doggy mom and Roxy had a happy full life under your loving guidance.

  21. Trying not to bawl here. I’m a fur-baby mama and I stopped by after I saw your link in the SITS FB group and omg. I’m sniffling and the only reason I’m not crying is that I’m battling a cold and some crud. Whew. I’m so so very sorry for your loss. I have no idea what it’s like to have to do this to a pup (we have two) but I had to put down one of my cats way too soon a few years ago and I’ll never forget how that felt. Holding him and saying goodbye broke my heart. I’m so sorry for your loss and I hope the love from your other fur-babies is what will help you heal slowly but surely as time goes on.

    1. Thank you so much. It’s been a long time since an animal I’ve had this long has passed. We’ve had a lot of small rescues like rats die over the last few years, but the attachment wasn’t as deep. I’m definitely healing. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my letter to Roxy.

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