Remembering Rosebud (Losing My Biggest Admirer) - LEANING TOWARD WISDOM

Remembering Rosebud (Losing My Biggest Admirer)

Remembering Rosebud (Losing A Dear Friend) - LEANING TOWARD WISDOM
Rosie (Rosebud) laying by my side Inside The Yellow Studio last month

Rosie was the alpha of the two between she and her brother, Rocky. We lost Rocky last year in the Spring. We lost Rosie this morning. For the past 16 years she’s been a fixture in my life, the anxious greeter when we come home. Like her brother, she was never far away, preferring to always be in the same room with me or Rhonda. Like most dogs, she had her favorite spots. Curled up in a corner right behind Rhonda’s office chair. Directly under a chair to my left Inside The Yellow Studio (that’s where this picture was taken in August this year). She was marching toward 17. Okay, maybe marching is too strong a term, but she was sleeping her way there.

Remembering Rosebud (Losing A Dear Friend) - LEANING TOWARD WISDOMWhen we lost Rocky she was lost for about 2 weeks, but we helped her adjust. Yes, she got to sleep in the bed for a few nights – something we’ve never done with pets before. Like us, she went on with life. Just last week I gave her a bath, which prompted her usual romping through the house with a new hop in her step. Provoking her to play with her two favorite toys: a penguin and an angry bird.

I’ve wept. When a pet grows old you realize the eventuality of loss. And still we invest so much of our heart into the relationship with a living being that loves us so unconditionally. People don’t often display the happiness pets do at our arrival. Others have written about it, but if you’re not a pet owner, particularly a dog lover…then you’ve never fully experienced it.

I will miss her greatly. I missed her brother Rocky tremendously. It’s an end of an era. Perhaps refocusing me on my own mortality. Our days are numbered. Pet or person.

I’ll miss…

Walking in the door hollering her name in a high pitched tone.

Seeing her standing at the back door, peering out, anxious for our arrival.

I’ll miss wondering how long she was standing there waiting on us, especially on Sunday afternoons coming back from church (she was there just yesterday).

I’ll miss giving her carrots and other treats.

I’ll miss just knowing she’s there – right there by my side, or behind Rhonda – while we work.

I’ll miss her toenails clicking on the kitchen floor as Rhonda or I foraged for food, and her hoping something would fall. Magically, things would fall.

I’ll miss letting her lick the empty bowls.

I’ll miss hearing her whine with one of her favorite toys in her mouth, hoping you’d snatch it and toss it across the floor.

I’ll miss looking in one of the favorite spots for her.

So many things. Sixteen years go by far too fast. We endured quite a lot together, including the heart break of losing Rocky. This time it’s different. Today, Rhonda and I go it alone. When we lost Rocky we had Rosie to spoil as we worked through the grief. Today’s very different. Much more lonely.

It’s one thing to go from two adoring pets to one. It’s equally, if not more dramatic, to go from one to none. As I prepare to get ready to go to a client for the day, the house seems so lonely. There’s something just knowing that another living being is sharing your space. Rhonda went to an appointment early this morning so right now…it’s the first time in over 16 years that nobody is here besides me.

Rosie was the first female dog we’d ever owned. Zeke, a black lab, was our first dog. He was great, except for barking at dropping acorns. Next came Barney, a bichon who often vexed us. Then, Rocky and Rosie – two Westie siblings. Westie people had urged us to consider a pair. It scared us, but I’m so glad we did. They weren’t inexpensive, but it was among the best investments I ever made. As they say, I’d do it all over again today if I could.

A little 20 pound furry idget can take your heart, wrap it around their wagging tail and leave you weeping when they die. I’ve wept a lot and suspect I’ll continue as I work through the grief.

But here’s the thing – if we don’t open ourselves to the vulnerability of loving a critter who will so love us back (and more), then we’re really missing quite a lot in life. Our house just won’t be the same. Signs of her are everywhere. I can’t enter hardly any room without thinking of her, or seeing some memory of her in that space. My life won’t be quite right for awhile, but boy when I think of what I’d have missed if I had never let she and Rocky into my life…well, it makes the pain worthwhile.

I loved her very much. She was my Rosebud. I’ll miss her for a very long time!


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38 Years Ago Tonight - LEANING TOWARD WISDOM

38 Years Ago Tonight

It was 38 Years Ago Tonight - LEANING TOWARD WISDOM
Rhonda holding grand child #5, Cason. (August 2015)

We were just kids when we first met. Teenagers. It was a hot Oklahoma summer, July. 1975.

I asked her out. She agreed. That was that. We went out on our first date. That date led to a second and third. Neither of us ever dated anybody else after that.

We were at a church meeting and inseparable after that first date.

When the meeting was over she returned home to Ft. Worth and I went back to Baton Rouge. There was no Internet, no cell phone or texting technology. Instead, there were letters sent via the U.S. Postal Service. We wrote to each other daily. That’s right, daily!

It was over. Dating life, that is. The search was complete. I had found her. I’ve remained smitten ever since.

There were late night phone calls, letters and trips made as frequently as I could afford – about a 10 hour drive from Baton Rouge to Ft. Worth. It might take longer during cane season. Much of the trip was restricted to two-lane highway. Getting off work late Friday, driving all night, arriving at her house by 6am Saturday, then leaving Sunday around noon after church services were over. Whirlwind and exhausting. A guy has to do what a guy has to do though.

Thirty eight years ago tonight we joined hands, put rings on each other’s fingers and said, “I do.”

July 1975 - Rhonda and Randy
Rhonda and Randy, July 1975 (that’s a straw in my mouth)

I was once cool enough to attract her. Thankfully, as the coolness (and my hair) left, she stayed. That couple in that picture never imagined having four grandsons and one granddaughter. There’s no strategy that would have included even half of the blessings we’ve enjoyed together. We’ve been very blessed.

Now if I could only get thin enough to wear white again…

Happy Anniversary To Us!


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It's A Dog's Life, But My Life Will Feel The Pain

It’s A Dog’s Life, But My Life Will Feel The Pain

Rocky laying right beside me in The Yellow Studio (Sunday, June 14, 2015)
Rocky laying right beside me in The Yellow Studio (Sunday, June 14, 2015)

Rocky turned 15 back in April. We had he and his sister, Rosie, groomed. The groomers are good to let us know any issues they uncover, like skin issues. Rocky was in good shape. So was Rosie. White West Highland Terrier siblings – like most white dogs, they’re prone to skin allergies caused by food. Grains are a frequent culprit. We set about to change their food again, for the umpteenth time. Not a big deal.

Within a month we noticed a front tooth protruding in an odd way from Rocky’s mouth. Closer examination revealed what appeared to be a gum infection or some sort of mouth tumor. A trip to the vet proved our fears were founded. Cancer. Surgery, including a biopsy could be performed – and would likely result in removing part of his jaw.

“No, we’re not going to put him through that.”

He did have an ear infection that we treated with the vet’s help. That cleared up within 10 days. The tumor was growing though. Rhonda and I talked about the timing of the inevitable. We’ve been dog owners and lost our share of beloved pets. “I’d rather act too soon than too late,” I told my wife. She agreed.

But Rocky was behaving normally. He was mobile, eating and doing his usual thing, sleeping a lot.

We’re just now seeing him slim down. But he’s eating. Just not as much.

He’s still alert and remaining right where you see him in that picture – within 3 feet of me or Rhonda. Any trip to the kitchen results in him following you, anticipating some edible item hitting the floor.

Last month – May – I released a podcast episode at Leaning Toward Wisdom about the high price of high value. Rocky was on my mind. Along with some human friends.

Rocky, in healthier times
Rocky, in healthier times

He’s a lovable, kindly dispositioned dog. Compliant to a fault. Never demanding. The kind of dog no human could ever be. I suspect no human has the capacity to be what Rocky is naturally.

The benefit of his malady is that it has given us time. Time to spend with him. Time to come to grips with what we’re going to face sooner than later. Time to grieve even though he’s still with us, behaving mostly normally. Time. The most precious thing any of us have together.

And there it is. The point.

Time together.

Rocky like millions of other household pets has led a dog’s life that’s pretty good, if not great. He and his sister have chased thousands (maybe tens of thousands) of squirrels. They’ve barked at lizards. Consumed many pounds of treats, one bite at a time. Sat beside and in the lap of practically every house guest. Walked and marked the entire neighborhood. They’ve even performed the occasional stupid pet trick. It’s been a few months past their 15th birthday, a good long life for any breed of dog.

He was there through it all for the last 15 years. We were 43 when we fetched them from their birthplace in The Woodlands, a suburb north of Houston. We’re now 58. That means Rocky (and his sister Rosie) have been part of our lives during the better part of 2 decades. Not a bad run for close friends really. Not enough perhaps, but I’ll take it. And be happy to have had our time together.

I love him very much. And he knows it. That’s the most important thing!



Other Links:

Life Takes Us Further Than We Think – Leaning Toward Wisdom podcast episode 4065
Join The Leaning Toward Wisdom Facebook group

NOTE – June 25, 2015: Over 15 years ago the Westie Rescue of North Texas people were among the kindest, most helpful people as we went on a search for a quality Westie breeder who cared about more than making a buck. In 2000 we found Rocky and Rosie, a brother and sister born to Kay L. McGuire, DVM and her partner, Connie Mitchell, in The Woodlands, TX (thanks to Tom and Barbara Barrie of The Trinity Valley West Highland Terrier Club and the Westie Rescue of North Texas at the time for the referral). Rosie is still doing well, but sadly we lost Rocky on Monday, June 22, 2015. It’s been a very long week around here, but if you’re considering a Westie, I can’t encourage you enough to let one (or more) into your life and heart. High value.

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