Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Losing a dog when you get divorced

I just got word from a friend that Roxie, a dog I loved and took care of during my former marriage has died. Details of her illness, last day or of her passing have not been shared with me.
Roxie was the only dog Jack would allow to touch him on a couch or on the floor. Jack, Needa and Roxie had a special bond.

Below is a story that appears in the “Dog Chapter” of my last book; “I wrote it on the Internet so I know it’s true.” Released in April of this year on Amazon. (with Epilogue)


When we think about second chances it is usually a term we associate with people, not dogs. When convicts get released from prison, they are given as second chance. When a first time offender gets probation instead of jail time, it’s a second chance. When people find themselves in an on-the-rocks marriage or relationship, they hope a second chance will come. When any of us “imperfect warm blooded humans” wake up each morning we are all given the chance to make things right again.
But sometimes the heartbreaking reality is that many in our canine family don’t get a second chance because their only chance was ruined by careless or thoughtless humans. When Roxie the Rottweiler was given a second chance she seized it---like a hungry dog to a bone.

We don’t know the details of her litter or puppyhood or anything about the first several years of her life. What we know is that sometime in 2013 this malnourished, disease infested Rottweiler was found wandering the streets of Hamtramck and was taken in by a rescue group.

Hamtramck is a tiny city that is dwarfed by Detroit; its neighbor to the south. Detroit has had more than their share of woe in recent years and I don’t mean to pick on them. But too often when you hear about Detroit on the news it is because of a murder, theft or some other violent crime. In a city with such a high poverty level and where many people cannot afford to feed their family it is no surprise that the first one kicked out of the house is the family dog.

There is no shortage of neglected dogs who are abused and either die on the street of hunger or at the hand of the sick, thugs who shoot them for fun.

We’ve always considered Roxie a smart dog because of her mannerisms, listening capabilities and the interest she takes in people, television, what’s on the computer screen and just about anything new she is introduced to as she gets older. What this mellowing means is that it’s not too far of a reach to believe that she was smart enough to know that she had to get out of Detroit (most likely her original place of residence) and set out for a better place on her own.

But she only made it to Hamtramck, which still a long way away from Royal Oak. Fortunately the Rottweiler Rescue of Michigan took her in and hoped they could help her find a new home. There is something called “A Rott’s Prayer” written on the web page for the Rottweiler Rescue of Detroit that reads:

I ask for the privilege of not being born
...not to be born until you can assure me
of a home and a master to protect me,
and a right to live as long as I am
physically able to enjoy life...not
to be born until my body is precious and
men have ceased to exploit it because
it is cheap and plentiful.

I know someone prayed that prayer for Roxi because she got her second chance.
When the Rottweiler Rescue took her in she was in bad shape. She was a dog who had likely experienced the worst of the worst at the hands of an owner who had no business having a dog. All signs pointed to her being neglected and abused. She needed a change.

Before we were married Christy was dating our mutual close friend Keith. He was a dog guy like me and wanted a dog in his life. Roxie was chosen. Christy had doubts but Keith persisted and persuaded her to let him bring her home and she agreed. But when Roxie left the shelter it was hard for her to adjust to her new life. In this new home there was plenty of love, food and safety, but Roxie continued to act aggressive toward Christy in an attempt to establish dominance.

Over and over Christy asked Keith to Roxie back to the shelter. She was becoming too much of a risk. As a last resort Roxie was shipped off to boot camp for training because it was clear that things were not working out and more change was needed. Between boot camp and the people running the shelter,

Christy was given a corrective course of action to implement whenever Roxie would act aggressive. This simple maneuver for the 85 pound Rottweiler was to grab her by the collar pin her down but to immediately show her love and affection. But as often as this method was tried it was neither simple nor effective.

Clearly, Roxie was a “man’s dog” who responded well to Keith but the behavioral issues not going away with Christy and this made everyone sad. The writing on the wall was that the day was quickly approaching when Roxie would no longer be welcome in the house.

On October 5, 2013, everything changed when Keith was found unresponsive in the bedroom and was pronounced deceased a short while later. Roxie was lying next to him in bed when he was found. She never left his side. This was a turning point for both Christy and Roxie as they both realized it was now just the two of them together against this world of unexpected heartbreak. Roxie shared the grief and became a different dog.

Christy and I got married in May of 2015 and since that time there has not been a sweeter dog in our home. Roxie instantly bonded with my greyhounds and soon became our “tank girl.” She loves her new family and often leads the way on walks. Roxie smiles, speaks to us and loves us as if it were her last day on earth. We all have scars and the world can be a very unforgiving place. This is why God gave us dogs.

Roxie became best friends with Jack and Needa. She taught them how to beg. She loves watching television and turns her head like the RCA Victor dog when she hears a dog bark on TV. She is usually the one who begins the long choruses of howling in the family room that make our house sound like there’s a pack of wolves among us. As this happens we are all in stitches. She’ll think nothing of walking between your legs for affection and won’t stop pulling your hand back to her until she is satisfied that she has had enough attention for the time being.

I love Roxie as one of my own because now she is one of my own. I know she did not invade my life for the purpose of trying to take any love away from Jack and Needa. She did it to ensure that the love in her heart had somewhere else to go because this “second chance canine” has plenty to spare.

Epilogue; September 10, 2017
At about 2:00 on May 8, 2017, Roxie tried to follow Jack, Needa and I out the front door like she had done hundreds of times. But this time we were not going for a walk. I had just completed my last pass thru of the house I shared with the woman who was the love of my life and I was leaving our house for the last time.

My eyes went blurry. Jack and Needa knew something was up as I reached down and attached their leashes to their collar as I sobbed.

We tried to walk out the door. Roxie didn’t understand why I pushed her back inside, shut and locked the door in her face and threw the key under the mat. As we walked away for the last time, her face was pressed against the front window, wondering why we were all leaving her.
I felt the same way

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