Life through Rosie-colored glasses

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Oct 06, 2017
Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds Rosie

Sleep deprivation was never so much fun.

Well, OK, the sleep deprivation part isn't fun, but it is more than made up for by the enjoyment of watching our new cockapoo puppy, Rosie, bounce around the backyard as she discovers the world. And I'd rather take her out during the night than clean up her crate.

Riley, our 14 1/2-year-old cockapoo, died the beginning of September. He had been diagnosed with cancer last November, had done well on chemotherapy, and had lived a good life until his last day. That day, a Sunday, he was clearly sick in the morning, and by the time we got seen at the emergency clinic in the late afternoon, his belly was tender when the vet examined him. His blood tests were normal, he had no fever, I didn't want to do X-rays, and they gave him an injection of fluids and told us to keep him on a bland diet for a while.

He perked up for a bit when we got home, but soon was lethargic and shivering off and on. We just sat on the floor in the kitchen with him most of the evening. We put him to bed upstairs, and he died about 6 the next morning. Without X-rays or an autopsy, there's no way to know for sure what he died of, but we believe the cancer had probably moved into his abdomen, something burst and that was it. I'm grateful he only suffered for one day, and that I didn't have to face the decision to put him down.

We both missed Riley terribly after he died, and I started looking around for another dog to adopt. We ended up with a puppy mostly because we thought our 5-year-old German Shepherd, Cushla, would most easily accept a pup, rather than an adult dog. We were both a little worried about what might happen, even with a very young puppy. Still, I thought Cushla might surprise us, and she sure did.

When we came home with Rosie, at just 8 weeks old (by the time this column appears in the paper, she'll be nearly 11 weeks), Cushla sniffed her and began drooling with anxiety. According to my online reading, adults realize when a puppy comes into the house that life is going to change, and it's going to be less focused on them. For the first few days, every time Rosie approached her, Cushla would run away. It seemed she wanted nothing to do with this baby.

Over the short time we've had the puppy, though, Cushla's attitude has changed a lot. She doesn't always want to play when Rosie does, but she has been very tolerant of the baby's licking her muzzle, biting her feet, trying to climb into her ear, crawling all over her, attempting to steal her rock, etc. All of that is a bit of payback for the way Cushla treated the late Nicky, our other Shepherd, when she was a puppy.

Cushla is a good puppy-teacher, which is a lucky, since Rosie's 5 pounds is no match for Cushla's 80. She plays with the puppy, lying down to be on her level, poking the little one with her nose, even chasing her, to Rosie's evident delight. Once or twice, Cushla has laid down the law with a bark or a display of teeth, and Rosie gets the message right quick. But a short while later, she's back at it, inviting her big new friend to play. It appears that the two of them are good for each other.

At her age, Rosie is primed for learning. She mimics Cushla's digging in the backyard, and her chewing on rocks — not necessarily things we wanted her to learn. She has just learned to go all night in her crate without going out, but hasn't yet figured out that she should tell us when she needs to go out at other times. She has discovered the area underneath the porch, and finds the holes Cushla likes to dig in the yard the perfect place to play or to lie down in. She knows her name and comes when called. We are trying to make coming very rewarding for her, so when she gets older she'll still do it.

Rosie will never fill the hole in our hearts left by Riley, anymore than one person can fill the place of another. But loving her and caring for her makes the grief gentler, and she certainly keeps us all entertained.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Oct 06, 2017 17:34

Well I too cried when it was time to put down our yellow lab. But suffering is not the way I wanted to go. God bless our wonderful "child-like pets".


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