I haven’t posted here in a while, despite my enthusiasm to share our honeymoon photos and other thoughts on my mind. Writing this post kept me from posting. I just didn’t want to do it. It’s now time. It is a long one — me writing from the wound. Well, the wound plus one month of healing. The ending is bitter sweet, a small miracle I believe Rosie sent to us.
Our sweet Rosie girl died on December 2, 2022. The night before, Malcolm took the dogs for a car ride, and Rosie either jumped or fell out of the open window. I raced over to the spot where he thinks it happened, and he was already there, walking Attie in the area he last saw her. I spent hours that night yelling down alleys, streets, sidewalks, across parks, in sewer drains. Frantic to find our girl. The particularly piercing part of that night is we had a very cold windstorm, so the gales snatched my screams. Rosie wasn’t good in the cold because she had a short, thin coat. She was all elbows and knees (what are those called for dogs?). We met back at home after Malcolm made missing posters for her. We papered every telephone pole, stop sign, don’t litter notices, park announcements, and many parts of the Colorado College (CC) campus. My cousin and a friend, both named Courtney, helped us with extra boots on the ground, bless them. I was so distraught, I told my cousin we were at an intersection on the wrong side of town. The street Uintah turned into Union when I spoke with her.
Hours and hours later, we returned home without our girl to rest a bit before going back out at first light. We posted on every community site, community based apps, Craigslist, etc. I posted on Instagram where my friends graciously shared the post, even ones in different states. We slept lightly for a few minutes. I found it hard to rest in our warm bed with my girl was out in the cold. But if we had looked all night, we wouldn’t have been able to do the things necessary the next morning.
People texted me with comforting words, stories about their beloved dogs returning home 6 days later. Nervous electricity shot through my body. Hope felt like a knife, consoling yet launching guilt torpedoes from the air.
The next day, we flyered and screamed when the sun rose. We took Attie with us in hopes he could help somehow. While we searched, we got lots of tips about Rosie that were not in fact, Rosie. Because of the windstorm the night before, lots of peoples’ dogs were missing that escaped when fences broke. Someone said they saw her and sent us a picture, but it wasn’t her. We received a few more messages and calls from lovely concerned citizens. We even received messages from scammers trying to profit off our desperation. They all turned out to not be her; we could tell because the descriptions of her were just not right. They weren’t our girl.
We then received a call from someone who saw our post on Nextdoor. She said she had seen the flyers and saw Rosie while she walked her dog. She saw her about 15 minutes before her call, and she sent us a map of the direction she headed. She said Rosie was so skittish that she left her alone. That had to be her.
We spent a few hours in that area but couldn’t find her. To help Rosie smell her way home, we walked the shortest route from our house and back to the intersection she went missing. We brought dirty clothes and rubbed them on different scent points like fences, light posts, and brick walls. It occurred to me that half the town saw us looking like people needing mental health services. But I did not care. Anything to get her back. I also collected several rocks and rotated them quickly in my hands rubbing them against the inside of my dirty sweatshirt I wore. I dropped those as breadcrumbs in a child’s fairy tale. It wasn’t a fairy tale, but a fairy tale written by the brothers Grimm.
Our friends met with us to help us talk to people in the area and to continue to flyer while we rested for a bit at the house. Right after they left, we got a call from a woman on the CC campus saying she saw Rosie running around the campus twice that day. We rubbed our dirty clothes and such on brick walls on the campus, so she was trying to get to us. We knew it was her. We called our friends to let them know to head towards the CC campus near Uintah and Nevada, which are two very busy streets, especially at 4:30 pm on a Friday. Someone then called and told us they saw her behind the Tutt library on campus. I have never run so fast in my life. I couldn’t feel my legs or my lungs. I became part of the wind, let it carry me. It felt like a dream that could end so many ways.
I screamed “Do you see my dog?” and people pointed. I ran in that direction. I couldn’t see Rosie, but others did. My friend Holly called me to say a man saw her running down the sidewalk on Uintah. She called back seconds later and said “I have her! I have her!” I burst out crying and darted even faster. Then I heard “She just jumped over the fucking fence. I had her, but she was so scared she ran from me!”
All of the sudden, I see her, facial features blurred because she was moving so quickly about three hundred yards from me. I ran towards her. She put her head down and looked me in the eyes. I thought, “If she can just see me, hear me, smell me, she will come to me.” I put my arms out and yelled her name. And then she ran the other way.
Now, my rational brain knows when retrieving a dog running away from you, you cannot panic. You cannot chase them. These things I know. But these things I did. I did panic. I did chase her. I chased her across Nevada, cars almost hitting her and me. I didn’t care. I would get hit by a car for my baby, no question. I was a mother attempting to lift a car off my child.
Then I lost sight of her. My friend called me again saying she was running down Uintah. So she jumped on a scooter to follow Rosie’s reported path. By this time, it was just before 5 pm on Friday in busy downtown traffic. A few more minutes running around frantically. And then Malcolm and I spot a black figure with brown markings on its face. It was laying in a carefully manicured lawn with two people next to it, across the increasingly clotted traffic. Malcolm sprinted across the street, and I ran to get the car. In my panic, I rammed the car into a sign on campus. It’s still leaning sideways to this day.
We got to her, and she did not look good. She didn’t look like herself. I could tell she was letting go. Two good samaritans stopped and put a towel under her head. They said she had pulled herself up from the sidewalk and they were staying with her. Reading between the lines, they meant they would stay with her so she wasn’t alone when she died. Malcolm gathered her broken body in his arms. Different parts of her body swelled up. She bled from nebulous sources. I held on to the fact that she wagged her tail, so she mustn’t be beyond a huge vet bill that we can’t but absolutely would pay for.
When we got there, they told us she was paralyzed from the neck down. I immediately thought of getting her a cart/wagon, and tenderly carrying her everywhere she needed. My friend Holly came and sat with us, held my hand telling me we can’t do this to her and we can’t do that to ourselves. I am so grateful to her that she looked me in the eyes and told me I wasn’t being reasonable. Malcolm and I howled with disbelief. We had just found her! After our intense search, and actually finding her MULTIPLE times, she wouldn’t make it. Our girl. Our joy.
After yelling at the staff and then immediately apologizing profusely, I asked each one of the people hovering over her if this was their dog, would they put her down? They all said yes. So we agreed to let go of our sweet three-year-old baby, Rosie. The vet prepared us with what we could expect. A few foggy, surreal seconds later, the thick Peptobismal pink substance ended her life.
My grief was heavy. They let us lay with her body for as long as we needed. They made a beautiful design on the cardboard coffin with her name and several black Sharpie roses. We buried her next to a rosebush the next morning. The ground was frozen, so we alternated boiling pots of water on our four burner stove. As the ground and my heart melted into the earth, we dug a small, watery grave for our girl. Picking away at the soil for hours, we finally finished our labor of love, the trench deep enough to protect her remains. When Malcolm stood in it to place her in her final resting place, the dirt came up to his chest.
We looked at each other, nodded, and opened her coffin to lower her down. And then something happened that felt like a small miracle. A moment that couldn’t have been. I told Malcolm to look, more because I needed someone to tell me it wasn’t in my mind, that I hadn’t actually descended into full on madness. But there they were. A group of Santa Claus bike riders ambled by. The absurdity of fifty bearded, beanied, and sunshaded Santas made me peal with laughter. A steady stream rode by for about thirty seconds. Wiping our tears, cracking up, we thanked our girl who is still not letting us take ourselves seriously, even if she can’t be with us.
That was one of the most awe-inspiring, radiant moments of my life. A beautiful tragedy. Life is funny that way.
Thanks for reading, if you read it all. If not, I’m glad you scrolled down anyway. Love you.