The Impact of Love: A Letter to Roscoe
I wanted to take this time to write you a little letter, one that serves as an outline of your life, and also the spirit of how you lived. You had a zeal for life, for people, and for your friends. One that was necessary to capture with a few words. This is a raw letter, written in the heat of emotion. It’s not pretty (like you) or clean (like Leland’s delicate butt), but I hope it captures what you meant to me.
When I came home from Indiana State in the autumn of 2005, I was not in good academic or health shape. Our old dog, Raleigh, was in rough shape, too, so I think Grandma and Grandpa thought it would be nice to buy me a dog for my 22nd birthday. (Nothing says you did terrible in school like a new puppy).
So one evening in February 2006, as I was lying on the couch watching television, Grandma and Grandpa came home. They came into the living room, stopped, and stood in front of the basement stair case staring at me. I didn’t see you at first, but there you were, in dad’s hands, looking straight at me: a blonde, fuzzy, handsome, Golden Retriever puppy with curious, live eyes. Even better, you were *my* dog. The papers said so.
Your first night you stayed in the basement bathtub. You didn’t like it. It was too slippery, too noisy, too everything.
So I let you sleep with me on the futon. It was your first lesson in just how easy I was to manipulate. It worked. It worked for ten years.
My original idea was to name you Jackson or Cooper, but one day after sliding down in between the bar stool for your afternoon nap, I decided on another name: Roscoe.
In keeping with family tradition, Grandpa thought it would be nice if you took the middle name of your big, new brother Raleigh Rowe. And so it was settled: your name was officially Roscoe Rowe Trowbridge.
You looked up to Raleigh a great deal. You should have. He saved your life once. One afternoon when you were still a puppy, you decided you really wanted to be best friends with the Rottweiler two houses down. Everyone was your friend, you see, and this big dog was no different! You ran towards him. He ran towards you. And instead of greeting you like you thought he would, he barked viciously, then he swept you into his mouth. Raleigh busted through the electric fence, confronted the dog, and with your sister Katie’s help, you escaped the jaws of death.
You repaid Raleigh over the next year by growing into a dog and being a pain in his ass. You’d knock him down and bite his back legs, but in turn you’d do his dirty work (like fetching the opossum he pointed for you to get for him).
But I think you had a positive effect on Raleigh, just as you did for the next decade; and injected a spirit of life in Raleigh’s last year. You mourned his passing like we did, and were especially helpful to Grandma, who you became close with after Raleigh’s death.
I “moved out” for a year shortly thereafter, but I still stayed with you enough. We would stay downstairs in grandma and grandpa’s basement, fought with ropes, listened to Otis Redding, and played video games. You’d fall asleep with me on the old futon until it was time to go into the back room with Grandma. You were always a good sleeper and cuddler.
You met Mommy the summer of 2008 for the first time.
Mommy met Daddy at grandma and grandpa’s house for grandma’s 50th birthday party. You and I were home alone, so I told you about her before she arrived. You always had a preference for women and girls, but I still wanted to see how you took to her and how she took to you (she had to be a dog person, you see).
Well, you did what you always did before: you lunged out of the door that led into the garage, and bounded towards her as she was walking up the driveway. She barely made it half way when you blocked her, did a series of patented Roscoe jumps, and then made sure she knew that you were the one in the house who needed the most attention. And if she gave you that attention, she’d earn your love.
It didn’t take much really. You two fell in love easier than she and I did. When daddy and mommy were still dating, and she would come over to our house for dinner, you and she were inseparable. Part of this may have been due to the fact that mommy, like daddy, liked dogs more than people, so she needed you around her. But you sensed this, and you both created a bond that would live out the rest of your life. And little did both of you know that your bond would grow even stronger.
Daddy moved in with mommy in the spring of 2009. You stayed with grandma and grandpa. We bought your future sister, Paxton, in the summer of 2009. Mommy and daddy moved again in spring 2010. In the summer of 2010 we bought your future brother, Leland.
Shortly after Mommy and Daddy were married in 2010, Grandma and Grandpa decided that it was time for them to move. Daddy said that we would watch you until they settled into wherever they moved to. Mommy knew better. She knew that you staying with us would create a bond that we couldn’t separate, and by the time that Grandma and Grandpa found the house they were to live in, the bond was sealed. Mom wouldn’t let you go. I couldn’t let you go again.
You were our dog, my dog, again. You were to stay with us in our old house on Eastern, and would make the transition with us to the house on Winston.
Leland and you developed a pretty special friendship right off the bat. You would hang out in the yard together, fight and play in the living room, sleep together, and bark at everything, together. He would lovingly chew on your neck, and you would lovingly nip at the back of his legs.
You were best dog friends. When mommy and daddy went out of town you two would stay and grandma and grandpas. When it was time to eat of get a treat, you conveniently taught Leland how to demand snacks and eats from dad. He didn’t mind. He likes eating.
He’s been pretty sad since Monday.
Even you and Paxton formed a working relationship together. I think she looked up to you, and respected you in a way she never did with Leland. You two would run together, often times you’d square up with her and want to play. Paxton can get a little serious so daddy would squash this earlier than he needed to. I should have let you two fight and play more often. I’m sorry I didn’t.
She misses you.
You always liked cats, too. Milo was the first cat I can remember you playing with. Your tail was so bushy and you wagged it so much that it provided a perfect punching bad for Milo. I wish I had that on video. Even Sameya loved you. She tolerates Paxton and doesn’t trust Leland, but she rarely ever hissed at you when you put your nose to hers. She knew she could trust you, and many times she would get closer to you during the middle of the night (I even caught her lying next to you once. She denies this.).
You were friends with everyone, but your relationship with your mother was the special one.
You looked at her differently. As mentioned before, you preferred women, and mommy was woman par excellence in your eyes. You would take naps and sleep together. You would be her smiling face when she came home from work every day. Your fights with Leland would provide her entertainment. Your spirit would help lift her up when she had a bad day. You had a lot of qualities that your analytical, often cold father doesn’t have, or lost at some point, and you would provide that for mommy. She adored you more than you probably realized, and mainly because you never took the time to reflect on that. You were too busy loving her with everything you had.
From Dec 2005 to late evening July 3rd, 2016 you lived each day with a puppy’s spirit, you had a zeal for life and love for everything that was unmatched among your peers. You were a happy, happy dog.
It happened so damn fast. Friday July 1st we were all sitting in the living room waiting for mommy to get home. Right before I went to bed, you made what sounded like a retching cough, something that I had never heard before. Looking back on it now I would’ve taken to the vet then, but you were a tough guy so I wanted to see how the next day would go.
The next morning you begged for breakfast and ran around like you always had. You did the coughing noise again a little bit but it was nothing routine. It was random, almost like you had a hairball.
Sunday morning was a little different. You were clearly fatigued after breakfast, so mommy and I decided that after we ate that I would take you to the vet.
I tried explaining to the vet as best I could what you were doing (that dreaded coughing noise), but I don’t think it was translated through well. You, of course, never coughed while you were at the vet, and were bouncing around in the room with that spirit you always had. They noticed that your heart was a little small due to dehydration, and that you had gas issues, too (your stomach had been growling). After running x-rays they determined that nothing was there to be too concerned about. They pumped you with fluids and sent you home with directions that if anything changed in the next 12–24 hours to call them.
Well, things changed.
Soon after mommy went to bed on Sunday night it started: intermittent heaving and constant panting, and your breathing increasing both in noise and how hard it took you to catch a breath. Daddy probably should have taken you to the vet when he noticed the discharged coming out of your mouth, but I wanted to wait until the morning.
You never did get much sleep. You were laying in front of the bed, I was looking over you, and mommy was next to you. Cuddling you. Sameya was extra concerned and your breathing had gotten worse.
I determined that it would be smart to take you to the vet once more.
So, we went to the vet. While waiting on the Dr. you got sick on the floor again. The Dr. came in and was concerned immediately. It looked like bile, but she wanted to be sure. Her face was one of concern. Dad’s heart dropped.
I texted mommy she needed to come to the vet, and within fifteen minutes she was there. The vet came into the room soon thereafter and told us the bad news: you had aspiration pneumonia. Your body had poisoned itself over the course of the night. I felt sick. I still do. I’ll forever regret not taking you to the vet sooner on Sunday night/Monday morning, as I stayed up with you watching your body kill itself. I’m so sorry.
We had a couple of options, but, buddy, it didn’t sound good even with treatment. They couldn’t guarantee any type of success, and you were fighting every breath as we debated what we would do.
It was determined that you had a good, happy life and that suffering for the sake of our own selfishness was out of the question.
You were put to rest just before noon on Monday, July 4th, 2016. You were ten years old.
After administering the euthanasia the vet stopped, looked down at you and said, “He’s so beautiful.” She was right. In illness you never cried or whined, and in death you were as distinguished as ever. You were gone, but you continued to amaze all of us around you.
What you meant to me (Your Legacy)
I know I wasn’t your favorite. It wasn’t anything that I did. You loved me more than any dog ever has. You just loved others more. You were amazing.
You came into my life when I was not well. I was fat, just left college in bad standing, and needed a good shake up. You left my life as good as it ever has been. That wasn’t a coincidence. That was you.
You entered Mommy and Daddy’s house when our marriage was just okay. Not terrible, but just okay.
By the end of your life our marriage is good as it ever has been. Great, in fact. We grew happier and healthier as a couple. We enjoyed each other more. We enjoyed our own lives more. That wasn’t coincidence. That, in large part, was you.
You had that type of effect on people, buddy. I hope you realized that. I think you did. You had a sense when people were sad, when people needed you, when even dogs needed you. You were forever giving (unless you demanded a treat — then you were expecting, but only for a short amount of time). Yet, even after receiving a treat, you would play with it like it was the first treat you ever had! Every treat. Every time. It would put a smile on mommy and daddy’s faces, and daddy would encourage you to play with it even harder. Even in complete selfishness you were giving to others. I miss these moments already.
Your impact on all of our lives was so profound and in so many ways that it’s hard for me to express it all here. It’s all still really raw. I loved you so much, and was so proud that you were my dog, our dog, and I hope you were proud of us. You may have loved us, and, literally, looked up to us, but I will always look up to you as a guide for love, devotion, perseverance, and toughness. You are our North Star now.
I miss you so, so much, and I can’t wait to see you again.
Thank you for everything.
I love you, Roscoe*
(*AKA: Lunky, Bubba, Lunker, Muffin Man, Prince Golden Hair, Princess Golden Hair, Roscoe Elizabeth, Dumbs, Scobie, and many others).