23 October, 2012
A Tribute to My Friend
This past Sunday we came home and found Rowdy had died. Rowdy was a very special dog... one of the most unique dogs I've ever been around in my life. When my daughter first asked if we could take him home to live with us, I did not want him. We had only recently lost our family pet, Cinnamon, who had been with us for 15 years, and I really did not want another dog at that point. Ashley worked at the Animal Hospital, and Rowdy had been brought in to try and find him a home. He was 5 years old, and had been the pet of an elderly woman who had to go to a nursing home. Truthfully, he was so funny looking that he was cute. His hair had been cut so short that all he had was a red head and the rest of him was snow white, with only his under coat remaining. We could not even tell what color he was supposed to be, or for that matter what kind of dog he was. He was listed as a Pomeranian, but it was obvious that this was not a Pom. Maybe part Pom, but certainly not a full breed. The thing that stood about about this dog was that he was absolutely stoic. His name was "Rowdy" but this dog was about as rowdy as a turtle. He did not bark and in fact, he showed almost no emotion at all. It was very apparent that he had been somewhat abused. He was terrified if someone's foot got near him, and he would cower away if he thought you raised your hand toward him. And if you dared try to touch his feet, he'd pull it away and again, looked terrified. We later found out he was terrified of sticks as well. It is obvious that Ashley won out, and we brought the dog home, against my objections.
Over time, Rowdy began to show some emotion, but very slowly. Trust was hard for him. It took several years for him to get over the abuse and know that we were not going to hurt him. One of the things I did was I would sit him on my lap and lift his paw and rub the underside, between the pads. A funny thing happened. He not only grew to like this, in his mind, if he wanted to be loved on and pet, he would come up to me and raise his paw in the air. If was so cute. People who saw it would ask if he was waving at me, and I'd have to explain that this was his way of saying he wanted to be pet and to snuggle. The personality that began to come out of him over time was amazing. There is absolutely no way to convey this were anyone who did not witness it can understand. When Rowdy began to bark, he sounded just like a seal barking. For some reason, he absolutely hated one of my neighbors dog. He almost never barked at other dogs, but if Oliver came out of his door, Rowdy instantly knew it, even though he was in the house and he would go insane. I would make him stop barking, and it drove him crazy. So he'd start to growl, kind of under his breath. I'd tell him to stop. It just drove him crazy to not be able to bark at Oliver. This is the funny part. One day Oliver came out of the house, and Rowdy wanted to bark, but knowing he was not going to be allowed to, he said, in what I swear, sounded just like a human saying it, he said, "woof" very softly. It became absolutely comical, because Rowdy knew he could not bark in the house, so he'd walk up to us and say, "woof." A few of our friends were able to hear this over the course of time but most people just think we are silly, but the dog learned to say, "woof." He'd only say it once, as if to say, "I may not be barking on the outside, but I am on the inside!"
Rowdy was simply an amazing dog. He was more than a dog... he was family. We frequently commented how that Rowdy knew exactly what we were saying and doing all the time. It's like he truly understood human speech. And he knew our emotions. He knew exactly when to come and ask to join us on the couch when someone was upset. With Ashley especially, he knew when she needed comfort. In fact, she has said that he was the best counselor anyone could ever ask for. We often commented that it was hard to believe that this dog, so full of life and emotion could possibly be the stoic, emotionless animal that we brought home from that hospital. He got to where he absolutely loved to play. He had I had a game we'd play where he'd follow me, and when I stepped, he'd step. If I stopped, he'd stop. If I took a step backwards, so would he. And when I'd turn around to face him, he' run, and want me to chase him. He was just like a little kid. He would also pretend to be ignoring me. If I'd call him, he'd turn the opposite direction, or even turn and walk away or even go to someone else. He was just such a funny dog.
God, I'm going to miss him. I've never allowed myself to get this attached to any pet before. I knew the past couple of weeks that Rowdy was fading, but I did not want to admit it. I did not expect it to happen this fast, but truthfully, I'd much rather see him go quickly than to see him suffer. But the house just is not the same without my "Rowdy dog" (that's what I called him) around. Even Copper, our other dog, is missing him. It's rather sad around here, but I would not trade the time we had with Rowdy and the happiness he brought to our lives for anything. He was a treasure.
We love and miss you dearly Rowdy dog.