Saturday, October 3, 2015

Goodbye, Sweet Roxy

Doug and I just made a very hard decision today--releasing our beloved Roxy from her failing body. It's not the first time we've had to say goodbye, but this choice was especially hard because there wasn't a sudden crisis or catastrophic diagnosis. She was just growing increasingly feeble, and the arsenal of drugs and therapies we had at our disposal were slowing the decline, but not halting it. She had bad days when she could barely walk, and good ones where she wanted to go out and sniff, but the latter were growing fewer and further between.

Roxy: Feb 2000-Oct 2015
 It's hard to know exactly when to say goodbye to an animal that's probably not in severe pain, yet is growing progressively weaker and takes joy in fewer and fewer aspects of  her daily life. But it was at the point where Doug and I agreed she was becoming a shell of her former self and wasn't having any fun.

Roxy was the first dog Doug and I adopted after we got married. We jumped the gun a bit and went to the Sacramento County animal shelter after we closed on our house but before we'd actually moved into it. Our lease only allowed one dog (Astra), so we fudged a bit on the adoption agreement (it asked if you owned your home, and in fact we did), so we didn't have to get permission from our landlord. We brought Roxy home, and one week later we found Simon. So we moved into our new home in November of 2000 with three dogs and four cats.

One of Roxy's first trials in Carson City.
Roxy was a very special dog, but I'm too broken up right now to describe all the ways. Suffice it to say that she was gentle, loyal, and willing to do anything I asked of her. She was my agility partner for many years, and we earned a NATCH and a CATCH title, but as she got into middle age, she lost much of her enthusiasm for the sport, so I retired her. She's the dog who convinced me to commit to positive-reinforcement based training and to expunge "corrections" and coercion from my training toolbox. I still made mistakes. She was such a sensitive creature, even a sharply indrawn breath on my part felt like a leash jerk to her. But I think our relationship made me a kinder, more patient person overall.

She had a good, long life, but damn, it never seems like enough. Roxy is gone, and she's taken a piece of me with her. My scientific world view has never given me a lot of reason to hope there's anything waiting on the other side, but if there is, I hope she's with her old pals Astra and Simon now, and with my dad and his beloved dog, Florence.

Roxy, Simon and Astra
Roxy running at WAG in Elk Grove

Roxy at the Huntington Dog Beach
Goodbye, dear girl. Thank you for your love and friendship.