I was barley 20 years old. Going to school, swapping jobs like shoes, staying up too late, using tuna and Oreos to sustain myself, spending money as fast as I could make it and 849 miles from home. Good times. I lived in this "hip" basement apartment in downtown Pocatello, in a house that was built in the early 1900's. All my neighbors were better friends then enemies, and my quaint little apartment was really a nesting ground for hobo spiders and in the summer, wasps. Life was great and independence was suiting me well I thought. I had a loser boyfriend who was unemployed more than he wasn't but I was having a hard time shaking him. One beautiful summer day, while I was at work at my newest, and thus far, best job, for Qwest Communications, he text and said he had a suprise. I was hoping it was news of a job. Instead I went outside and was greeted by this bashful, big headed, bat eared, white faced puppy. A puppy. The gift of a living thing? Not exactly what I was wanting and there had been no puppy talk- but yet here it was. The boyfriend was proving his irresponsibility once again. He claimed that the pup was a rescue from Boise. He was a Boston terrier, although as the pup grew, everyone was fairly certain he had French bull dog in him. His name was Cheeba. Really?? He was already three months and I was told I couldn't change his name, I lovingly called him Cheeba Roo, and soon, it was mostly Roo. Or "The Roo"
It was love at first site. For me and The Roo. The boyfriend didn't last long after puppy delivery. That is not the way to a girls heart. In fact, a puppy is the perfect replacement for a boyfriend.
My parents were less then thrilled about my acquisition of an animal, and I added to their worry and stress. But Roo was the best thing that could have happened to me at that point and time I think.
Not too much after getting him, I decided I needed to move. My hip house didn't have a yard. Me and my friend Stephanie, who also had a little dog, moved into a pretty awesome house right up by Idaho State University. Our neighbors were people with real jobs who had kids and went for evening walks. A change of scenery is always nice. The new place had a yard for the dogs. It also cost significantly more, which was good incentive to keep my phone company, good paying job. All for the sake of Roo.
The Roo had a hatred for men, he would growl and snap at any and all males, he also unfortunately bit a few. He was fiercely protective of me and never left my side. If I was up at 2am to use the bathroom, he would trot into the bathroom right along and wait. I got into the habit of always throwing a towel over the heat vent while I showered and got ready so he could curl up and be warm and cozy. He went in the car with me every time. I would run home between classes and on work lunch breaks to see him. For a long time I worked the 1-10 pm shift, most everyone on my floor would leave at 6pm and I would go home and get the Roo and bring him to work. He slept in my bed, his big head on a pillow, like a person. He snored so loud Steph could hear him. We would take late night walks and long summer drives. Havig a dog gave me responsibility and purpose that pushed me out of my careless ways.
One year, during Christmas break, the weather and snow was in abundance and I had this junky little sundance car, nervous that it wouldn't make the drive all the way home and I would end up stranded on some snowed in Montana road, my parents encouraged me to take a greyhound bus home. I did. But I bought 2 tickets, one for me, and one for the Roo. I had to bring him on in a crate, but the majority of that 12 hour bus ride he sat on my lap. Me and Roo.
When Devin and I started dating, Cheeba gave him the typical treatment of hatred and growls. Devin not being overly excited about my dog, but pretty excited about me, was persistent in winning him over. He would play fetch with him for hours- Roo's favorite. We were driving somewhere and both Dev and I remember, Cheeba standing on the middle console and giving Dev a big lick on the face. It was a crowning moment in their relationship. The Roo accepted him, the growls stopped and they were buddies. Not too long after Dev and I (and the Roo) were married. Happy as could be. Life moved along and we had babies and even got the Roo a puppy brother, Oscar to keep him company. I felt like with every new life that joined our family, Cheeba got a little sad. Like he was falling on the ranks. He was patient and kind with the kids, and they loved him. When my Dad was diagnosed with cancer I cried more into the side of that dog than I did in the arms of my husband. Not because Dev wasn't comforting and understanding, but because there is absolutely no guard up when it's an animal.
13 years. That's a long time. Longer than my marriage, older than any of my children. All these stages of my life that Roo has been thru with me. My top dog.
We were at Primary Childrens Hospital in UT, with a sick little girl, friends were watching the dogs and Dev had come home one day and Cheeba was not doing well. Dev had a heart to heart with him and The Lord, asking and pleading that Roo would just hang in there until I got home. He did. We came home Wednesday and had some good days. Roo even perked up enough to fight with Oscar over a basketball and eat leftover breakfast of sausage and eggs. Early Saturday morning he died in his sleep. In bed. We all got to spend his last days with him. There was no suffering and he's left us with memories beyond measure.
But goodness my heart hurts. I can't explain the void and the lonliness. I feel it. He's not here. I keep having weird dreams and don't sleep well. I go out to to take the kids to school and automatically look for him to jump in the car with us. I still leave enough scraps from supper clean up for Oscar and Cheeba.. Oscar is probably going to get chubby- he's been eating double. Cheeba had gone deaf within the last few years and I have this habit of stomping on the floor when I would call for the dogs to come outside- I still do it. And then when just Oscar comes running out, there is a wave of sadness all over again.
My day to day life, I can't shake the feeling that I have forgotton something or the lonliness- and it's from the lack of my dog. It's because I'm not being followed everywhere by a black and white grump. You probably think that's crazy... But if you do, you probably haven't ever really loved a dog.
I took Chreeba to a soccer game, his leash was hooked under a camp chair and mid game he wiggled out of his collar and went tearing into the field after the ball. Hilarious. And I couldn't get him to stop or to come back to me. There was a field of 4 yr old soccer players, a ref and myself all chasing him down while he chased the ball onto other fields.
My friend was watching him while we were out of town, and I text her "just a reminder, Cheeba is deaf, well it auto corrected to Cheeba is dead.
She text back what?! Oh my gosh I am so sorry! I text her again and said DEAF- and again it auto corrected to DEAD! Right after that was sent my phone died. When I finally got it charged up she had a big long text expressing how she didn't know and she was so sorry. Then when she arrived at my house to let him out, she was greeted with what she thought was the ghost of Cheeba. :) Pretty funny.
It's been 2 weeks. I still have tears. We all love talking about him and the funny things he did or how he was just naughty and would knock the garbage over. In his old age, he didn't even try and hide it. He would do it when we were all watching. He couldn't swim. His arthritis was so bad the last few years he had times he couldn't get up the stairs, but offer to play fetch and he was all for it.
I really love Devin, but let me just tell you, watching him dig a grave for my, and then our, dog, in the frozen hard ground on a freezing cold morning while I sat in the car and sobbed huge tears of grief, was a solidifying moment of just how much I love him.
I miss my dog.
He was a dog.. But not just a dog.