Rosi

by Danny Zawacki

I was going to write a post today about how Valentines comes around every year and I only really had someone to share it with once, and now that’s long over. I was going to get all deep and philosophical. But in light of certain events, I’m not going to. Instead I want to talk about Venus.

I bet I’m one of a small few people, if not the only one, who actually know Venus by the name Venus. Most people call her Rosi. Today, she’s fourteen years, two months, and two days old. Today, she’s going to die.

Rosi has one brown eye and one blue eye. It makes her an absolutely beautiful dog. I’m told it’s a trait that is common in her breed, Australian Cattle Dog.

There’s something to be said about a boy and his dog. I was only ten when we got Rosi and other than fish and a couple of rabbits we nursed back to health, I had no memory of any pets. She quickly became my best friend. I kept up with her and she kept up with me.

When she was younger, she had a lot of energy. She liked to play rough. It’s in her nature to bite because that’s how she would have herded the cattle. There was no cattle, only my arms. I can only imagine what my teachers thought when I’d come to school with big welts on my arms and thin red lines of blood. I didn’t care.

There was one summer where Rosi and I spent most of our days together. She loved to run and I had a pair of roller-blades. We’d circle the block and she’d always make a mad dash for home on the last straightaway.

I’d take her running with me and later when she started to slow down, I’d take walks with her.

One year, for Christmas, I got my dad our second dog, Mabel. Rosi didn’t like that. Mabel liked Rosi. Now they’re old friends.

Rosi has always been loyal to our family. She’s been an intimidating 70 pounds of dog with a mean bark. We had friends who wouldn’t come in the house because Rosi scared them. But deep down, she’s a sweetheart.

Before I left for the Peace Corps, I wrote One Week Goodbyes. In a paragraph, I talked about how I knew I would be saying goodbye to some people, possibly forever. Rosi was in  mind. I wasn’t kidding myself when I left that she’d certainly be around when I got home. She’s old.

I was lucky, however, because I had a chance to see her again when I went home last September for our brother’s wedding. She was a bit older, a bit weaker, and a bit quieter but she was still puttering around.

In my weekly phone calls with my parents, I always asked how Rosi was doing because I wanted to make this moment easier by being ready for it. In recent months Rosi has had trouble with stairs and the cold and sleeping at night. I’ve heard her bark in the background of the calls and it’s lost its forcefulness. Her health has been on and off for months now, off more and more often.

Rosi, you’ll forever be my first love and my best friend. I hope when you’re at peace you get to bark at the mailman and run in the warm summer sun, feeling the grass on your paws. When I make my way to you at the end of my life, greet me as the family member I am without the barking meant for a stranger.

You’ll always be in my heart.

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