I’m a Dad. I’m a husband. I’m a best friend to two, four-legged animals. Roscoe and Jewels are my adopted babies.
Let me back track a bit here. When we first moved to South Carolina from Maryland, nearly 9 years ago, we had a Beagle named Buddy. He was a stubborn animal, but so good with the kids, and so friendly and loving, he was part of the family. Unfortunately, he got sick shortly after we moved in and got settled and we had to have him put down. That was god-awful miserable, especially since we weren’t expecting it. Luckily the kids were mostly all so young, we didn’t have to do a lot of explaining and dealing with the pain. It about killed me, but I’m a big boy and I got through it just fine.
Fast forward a year or so, and we adopted Jewels as a puppy. She’s a Rottweiler/Lab/Something mix of a mutt and she came home to us at 7 weeks old. She’s the sweetest little dog you could hope for. The problem we had was that she was bored during the day and would dig under the fence to escape into the world. Despite my best efforts at plugging the holes, she always found a new one.
That’s when I had the bright idea to get her a friend. A dog to hang out with in the backyard, have adventures and keep her occupied. So we went back to the shelter and looked around. In the outdoor pens, this big lummox of a best game trotting up to me before we ever got inside. He was huge, nearly 100 pounds and was pure white but for a few brown patches. I wanted him immediately. He was the first dog to come greet us and he really looked like he wanted a loving home. So the wife relented and we brought Roscoe home that day. His name was her idea, I wanted to call him “Old Paint” since he looked like a horse, but she refused.
And it worked. Jewels quit digging, and adjusted to life as we had hoped. Roscoe was already five or six or seven years old at the time we got him, (nobody really knew for sure) and apparently came from a pretty neglectful house. He wasn’t one to play fetch or roll over or any of that other cool-dog-trick stuff, but he was lovable. He like to have his ears scratched and he loved to eat. Sometimes to the detriment of our dinner on the grill. There were times he’d sneak off with hamburger buns behind my back and times that he’d drive you crazy for that steak bone. But that’s all he wanted out of life.
Also, being a hound of some indeterminate origin, he loved to sneak out of the yard when the kids wouldn’t lock the gate, or when I accidentally burned down part of the fence with my grill. (don’t ask). When he would get out, he would point his nose in one direction and keep following it. We must have spent over $600 in fines from animal control to reclaim him from the pound. We’d get calls from families who found him and took him in, and they lived 20 miles away from us. He traveled wherever the hell he wanted, not giving a damn. When he finally got tired, he’d lay down and someone would retrieve him. And he never gave a shit. He’d come home, panting with that goofy grin on his face, and wait patiently for a snack or dinner. This dog, while he was never rowdy, definitely gave me a fit. And after the anger would wear off, we’d be fast friends again. He never quite understood what I was so upset about, he was just exploring.
Fast forward to today, almost 6 years later and he’s in bad health. His hips have failed him, his appetite is all but gone, and he’s just miserable most of the time. Selfishly, I put this decision off for too long, but finally today, we had him put to sleep. If anyone tries to tell you that losing your best friend is easy, they’ve never loved or known the love of a great dog. It was one of the worst things I’ve ever had to experience, and I’ve done it before with other best friends.
It’s funny, how easy it is to forget they’re dogs and get to relying on their presence and companionship. It’s easy to forget about them in your busy, day-to-day life and at the end of the day, they still love you completely and unconditionally. All they really ask for is some food, love and attention. And Roscoe personified “best friend” in that respect. He was smelly, stubborn and mostly wanted to be left the hell alone, but he was a big old baby too.
Having to tell my boys was even harder than having to tell myself. We explained to them how he was hurting and how this was better for him in the long run. We told them it was ok to be hurting and sad. Then we all cried and hugged and accepted that we should celebrate the time we had with him, instead of mourning the times we’ll no longer have. It’s still a fresh wound and it’s going to hurt for a while, but we can sleep at night knowing that Roscoe no longer has pain in his life.
So, this is my farewell to my buddy, my big ol’ goofy boy. Roscoe, we’re going to miss you buddy.
Rest In Peace Fella.