Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Rosie Dog

About 16 and a half years ago, a dog came into my life. She was adopted from the Denver Dumb Friends League. She changed my life.

This dog was special. She was smart, she was devoted, and she lived life fully. Rosie wanted to be part of my life, and she wanted that life to be fun. Full of adventure, which by her definition meant lots of excursions into the mountains. Camping. Moving across the face of the earth. Finding out what's around the next bend in the trail.

I lost Rosie in April of 2005. She had been stricken with arthritis since the late 90's, and it got much worse toward the end.

But those early 90's--those were some years for Rosie and I. We spent some wonderful days together back then.

For most of her life, Rosie was easier for me to love than for almost anyone else. She had a bit of junkyard dog in her. Actually, quite a bit. She tended to attack dogs that she didn't already know were afraid of her. And she was brave about it. I saw her attack some big dogs without the slightest hesitation. And she prevailed often, but not always. I got her sewed up more than once.

It seems that she felt it was just easier to jump them so that she wouldn't have to worry about being subject to any other dogs. But as she got older and less confident of her toughness, it became clear that she was afraid. Other dogs were a threat. She assumed the worst.

Most often people were greeted with friendliness and enthusiasm, but she wasn't so sure about kids. She snapped at every neice and nephew ever presented to her.

But I defended her. She was my dog. She loved me and cared about me. I know that dog training specialists often claim this is an illusion, that our dogs really only show us this kind of attention because we feed them. But I really felt something different from Rosie. She really cared about me, and all the other people in her inner circle. She remembered her favorite people, and recognized them almost instantly, even if she hadn't seen them for several years.

So why am I waxing on about this dog? Why now?

Today I decided to create some closure, to try to celebrate Rosie's memory for the whole day, to do something she would have really enjoyed doing.

After Rosie died, I had her cremated. Her ashes were in a ziplock bag in my file cabinet for almost 2 and a half years. I knew what I wanted to do with those ashes, but it never seemed to be time. Today I decided that it was time.

I drove over the Kenosha Pass with my bike and Rosie's ashes. I loaded up, put her remains carefully into my hydration pack, and headed for Georgia Pass. This was a place--a bike ride, that we shared many, many times way back when. I haven't ridden there for perhaps a decade. But I couldn't think of a better place for Rosie, for the memory of Rosie.

I left all the gadgets at home. No MP3 player, no camera, no GPS. I wanted to spend the ride reflecting on my life with Rosie rather than filling my head with music. The images that surrounded me were not for capturing digitally, they were for taking me back to those days when Rosie and I passed through together.

I rode all the way up to Georgia Pass. I summited the pass into a brisk autumn wind. I stood looking over South Park, opened the bag, and let half of the ashes be carried in the breeze downslope. The wide basin up there above treeline was a place Rosie used to roam as I followed the singletrack.

On the way back down, I came to a familiar switchback. Rosie used to shortcut that switchback, and would be waiting for me when I got down to where she'd run. Her face would be full of mischief. She had outsmarted me! She knew a shortcut.

I sprinkled some of her ashes there, where I could almost see her waiting, smiling and wagging as she panted from the effort of running down the trail with me.

When I got to Jefferson Creek I sprinkled some of her ashes into the rushing water. She always loved water, and used to flop down into Jefferson Creek on warm days as we passed by.

Then I headed back toward Kenosha Pass through the large sweeping parks between huge stands of yellow aspen. The image of Rosie running through the grass brought me back to those good, sunny days we spent together. The last of the bag found its way into the breeze there.

Goodbye Rosie. Good dog.


FixieDave said...

Tom, You made me cry! Wish I had had a chance to have known Rosie.

Chris said...

Thanks for sharing Tom. I miss my Golden Casey as well. That was a wonderful tribute to Rosie.

Ed said...

Um yeah, I almost forgot what a lump in the throat and a tear in the corner of the eye feel like. Beautiful story Tom.

Have fun entertaining DaveC this weekend. We'll be in Santa Fe.


JenyJo said...

beautiful, tom.


Lynda said...

Aw, Tom. Losing a dog isn't something you really get over, is it? My Dobie died last winter. Not a day goes by that I don't think about her. I still talk to her, too.

Your tribute to Good Dog Rosie is fitting; that is such a beautiful area. I hope someone remembers me as well when I am gone.

Grizzly Adam said...

That is a great tribute to a good friend.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing Tom. It really gave me the lump in my throat, holding back the tears. Dogs become such a part of our inner cirle, like human family really. They protect us, love us, and sometimes follow us rather blindly because they trust we would never purposely harm them. I have lost a few dogs in my youth, but we have two now that are really going to brake my heart when they go. It just reminds me to spend more time with them while they and I can still enjoy it

Tom Purvis said...

Thanks everyone for your comments.

When feel sad about Rosie's passing, I comfort myself with the knowledge that I was good to her. She had a really good life.

But it only helps a little. I still miss her.

Matt said...

Great story, Tom. Losing furry friends is tough, and you still miss them years later.