Friday, April 07, 2017


It's been a few weeks, and it's still something that's hard to process.

"Dog" is gone. Roxy. Lady.


I have to clear something up: Just like my beloved pal Scrappy, Roxy was never my dog. One difference with Roxy was that she did live with me for roughly a year. I walked her (though one didn't really "walk" her), fed her, and did lots of dog-related things with her.

From across the house, I could yell, "DOG!" and the doggy toenails could be heard on the hardwood floor.

But the truth was she wasn't my dog. She initially belonged to my niece Laura, and when Laura moved from Pennsylvania to live with me in New York, I got to hang with Roxy. Eventually, Laura would move, and soon Roxy stayed with Laura's sister Kristy in Fayetteville, NC.

To be fair, Sean and I were just as excited to see Roxy when we would visit as we were to see Kristy, husband Hector, and daughters Evelyn, Eleanor, and Izzy. Yes, even seeing cats Ghost and Crow were exciting.

Plus we'd get to see Laura, her boyfriend Kelly, and my goddaughter Emma, along with Kendall as well. Plus various other cats, dogs, and a bigass lizard.

But it was Dog who greeted us in Fayetteville.

We knew the drill. Sean and I would both talk about it in the car. It would play out like this:

Scene: House, Fayetteville, NC. A car pulls into the driveway and three people get out of it. Rob, the father, followed by Sean, devoted son, and Nancy, Rob's mother. Rob knocks on the door. It opens with Kristy (or Hector or a child) visible.

"How was the trip?"

A dog soon appears. Barking commences.


Rob: "Oh calm down!"

Dog: "Oh, it's you."

Every. Time. Without. Fail.

We lost Roxy in March, and we had a feeling it was coming. Kristy gave me the heads-up that the next appointment was March 17.

Yes. St. Patrick's Day. MothereffingSteffingPatricksday.

My first reaction, and I have witnesses to it, was utter dismay. Why the everloving bleep did it have to be St. Patrick's Day?

Then I thought about it a bit and realized that this is how it should be. It actually comforted me, but my initial reaction was visceral.

I wanted no part of St. Patrick's Day, 2017. While I used to do anything to celebrate it, recent years have had me wanting to find the nearest rock to hide under. I had no interest in being a part of anything that day (for those who are new here, my dad passed while watching The Quiet Man on St. Patrick's Day, 1989).

My efforts to take the day off fell apart, and so it was when my phone buzzed with the text that Roxy -- our Roxy -- the lady who I named "America's Dog," had gone to sleep.

My next move was to tell Sean, and I actually left the radio show to make sure that I told him personally. His sadness was profound.

Sean hasn't been back to North Carolina since she passed. I was there last weekend, to share in the joy of moving Kristy and Hector to a wonderful new house.

I found myself wanting to hug Kristy to thank her for taking care of our dog. I saw the kind trinkets that the vet provided, including a box that her ashes are in. I did hug Evelyn, the oldest of the children, who wrote a note, in Roxy's "voice," that was meant to provide comfort to her sisters.

Being out of the house was actually comforting in the end.

We're supposed to outlive our pets, but that doesn't make it any easier. Gone is that first reaction of the barking and the realization that it was just us, ready to pet her, hug her, run with her, and play ball with her. Gone are the moments of just looking at her. She truly was a beautiful dog. Gone is...everything.

Except for the memories, and the stories.

One to go out on: According to Laura, by definition, Roxy was a partial Red Heeler breed (to my knowledge, not a true breed). Sean and I -- ever the conspiring wise guys -- decided that a new breed be created. Thus Roxy became a "Red Heeler Hipadooda." It stuck and never left.

As Kristy would say, "Go be a dog."

As we would say, "Run free Dog."

This dog, this lady, was truly America's Dog. Tough, but tender. Sweet-natured but protective.

The sadness is strong but the memories will always bring a smile.

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