Our Second Dog

NOTE: This post was migrated on 10/15/21 from my substack after getting all of my blog moved to a secure host. If you are confused about why I wrote on substack for awhile, get your primer about my site being hacked and the ensuing chaos HERE.

I mean…is Rosco really a new dog when I’ve known him for 10’ish years? He’s newly ours, I guess.

When Mom was forced to retire in late 2019 and we first started talking about getting her to Huntsville, we had to face the fact that she had 2 dogs that weren’t really receiving good care as it was with her in Knoxville. I mean, no one ever loved dogs more than Mom did. She wanted to rescue every small dog in the world. But one of them still wasn’t house broken, and they only ever got the exercise out the doggie door into the 4×8 enclosed area outside her condo. That was fine for Rosco because he was old, but Sammy was young and I knew wanted/needed more activity. We talked her into letting me re-home Sammy (who went so fast to a small-dog rescue that his face never appeared on their FB page) and Rosco went with her to Nashville to stay with her sister while I got the condo cleaned out and sold.

So that was shock #1 and #2 for poor Rosco: Moving and losing his brother (not that they got along that well) at the same time.

Then, 3 months later, probably once he started getting used to Nashville, he had to move again, but to Huntsville. And then he had to learn to walk on a leash which he had never had to do his entire life.

Now, Rosco was always sitting on/near Mom even back home in Knoxville…but he started getting real separation anxiety after all of the chaos of the first few months of 2020. Once, when Mom was in the hospital and I was staying at her apartment overnight but not staying there all day, the landlord called to say a neighbor was worried because they could hear Rosco crying next door.

That was when we decided that leaving him alone for too long was probably not the best idea, and we started getting him used to my house. Actually…Donnie did because he’s the dog whisperer.

From then on out, every dialysis day – for almost five hours on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays – he stayed with us. He took the alpha role (Zoomie didn’t fight him for it) and learned how to go to the door to ask to go out . He got comfortable curling up on the couch with whomever was watching TV during that time. Rosco really seemed to enjoy being at my house and even maybe started to enjoy the car rides, knowing the destination.

We kept Rosco at Moms for the first part of her decline in hospice care, letting him stay in the hospital bed with her. He stayed pretty calm at the foot of her bed and I hope she knew he was there.

But the first bad night we had with her had him very upset. He would not settle down, even if she did. He would not sleep more than a few minutes at a time (hell, none of us did) because he would just kinda wake up and freak out every time she made a noise. Once we got her medicines right and she settled down, the only way I got him to sleep was when I made him a bed on the floor of the kitchen – the only other room in her efficiency apartment – and sat there with him. It was like he wasn’t able to rest in the same room with her anymore. So I took the gamble, hoping maybe she wouldn’t notice, and I took him back to my house when I went to shower that day.

And he’s been here since.

He has decided in Mom’s absence that I’m his person. He has to be where I am at all times. When I’m soaking in the tub he stands next to it and cries. When I’m cooking dinner he follows me around the kitchen. He follows me to to the garage to do laundry and sometimes he won’t go outside unless I go out with him. Yesterday…I climbed the 8ft ladder to our storage platform in the garage so Donnie could hand me stuff and Rosco tried to climb the ladder! When he realized he couldn’t he wailed VERY LOUDLY at the bottom until I finally came down.

Now, thankfully he doesn’t freak out when I’m gone…he just finds a new person. And then that person gets the same treatment.

But if I’m home I can barely get him to say on the couch while I get up to get a coffee refill. And it’s a pain in the butt to get him on the couch because he doesn’t want to use the stairs we got him, but he also has a bad back/bad back legs and so if you don’t pick him up perfectly right he screams. I get up and I say, “I’m coming right back Rosco, there’s no need to get up.”

And yet…there is his by my feet in 30 seconds.

He stands outside the bathroom door while I do my business. He would like to be on my lap at my desk chair when I’m working but he has accepted sitting on my bed since my desk is in the bedroom and he can at least see me.

I do think he’s grieving (Donnie thinks he’s fine.) But he’s never really been a happy dog, so it’s hard to tell. Since I started being more a part of his life in 2018 I’ve always described him as grumpy. If you try to pet him when he’s not in the mood, he’ll snap at you. And there is absolutely no way to tell if he’s not in the mood. He sill does all of that…snaps and gets grumpy…so I’m probably projecting my grief onto him.

He’s definitely been helping me. There’s something about knowing he misses her as much as I do that I find soothing. His affection is definitely a salve to my sadness, even if he has bad breath and won’t let me shave my legs in peace. No one knows how old he is…somewhere between 12 and 17…but I really hope he sticks around for quite a bit longer because he is definitely part of our family now.

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