My dog Rosie and I started our walks around Hathaway Pond this week. We are banned from May 15th through September 15th. Well, I’m not, but I get bored quickly if I walk alone. She will be ten on New Year’s Day so she’s hobbling a bit and getting white around her black muzzle. We both have bad knees and can’t move as fast as we once did.
I got Rosie just about three weeks after Spence died. I admit I felt a little funny about it, like people might think I was trying to replace my son with a dog. But it was Jake’s idea. My youngest son, he was just nine then and he suddenly announced that he wanted a guard dog. He had been acting fearful, especially at night, asking my husband and me to lock all the windows and secure the house. I thought that he may have overheard some of the violent details of Spencer’s death, how the door was broken down and it made me sad for him so I felt a guard dog was reasonable. Jake told me only recently that it wasn’t the home invasion that spooked him. It was watching scary movies at a neighbor’s house.
The paper was advertising lab-mix puppies and I found Rosie in a basement, one of four left in a large box. She was sleeping in the corner, oblivious to the puppy ruckus around her. I picked her up and held her to me and I swear this is true… she put her arms around my neck and hugged me.
I brought our new guard dog proudly into Jake’s third grade class room and he graciously allowed every child in the class to maul his new dog that was smaller than our cat, as Rosie tried her best to sleep through it all. I could tell even then he was a bit skeptical about her guarding capabilities but I assured him she would get real big.
In those early days when the pain was so heavy, waking up was the hardest part of the day. Sleep was dark and haunting, and I would awaken to the worst night mare ever. I could hear Rosie getting restless in her crate and I would dress quickly and run out of the house with her. We would walk and walk until we reached water and I would cry and talk to God or just cry to God while Rosie splashed and chased frogs and cormorants. In blizzards, in soaking rain, in blasting heat we would not miss a morning together. I would often pass an older gentleman walking also and he nicknamed me “Miss Faithful” because we were out in every kind of weather. Now I wonder if he was walking off a loss too.
Rosie got big but she never became a guard dog. She is so good natured she looks like she’s going to bust out laughing when she sees a stranger. Even the UPS man plays with her. And she will not fight if another dog attacks. She just lies down and looks at me like I’m the guard dog.
Theoretically I’ll outlive her which just makes me sad thinking about it. Someone told me once that the name “Rose” means “divine love” and then it all made sense. Rosie was not a guard dog; she was a Rescue Dog, sent just for me, to rescue me from the insurmountable pain of facing each new day without my son. She got me up, out the door and led me to a place where I could meet with my Father, who still is always there, patient and full of mercy. And she is still pretty funny to watch. Thank you, Lord, for Rosie. And thank you Rosie. You are Miss Faithful too.