Saturday, January 02, 2010

Remembering Roxie

Should auld acquaintance be forgot? Heck, no!

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As a New Year dawns, the nation mourns the passing of the embodied inspiration for America's favorite dog blog devoted to politics, pop culture, and basketball. 2009, the year of celebrities dying quicker than you could say "Michael Jackson" (!?!?), ends with one more megastar biting the dust!

Tributes pour in from fellow bloggers devastated by Roxie's death but inspired by her example. See what Historiann and Kate have to say!

Facebook nearly collapses beneath the weight of the encomiums to the most famous wire-haired fox terrier since Asta. She was "noble," declared one pal, even "magical." She was "mischievous," recalled another who knew Roxie as a leaping, barking, high-speed maniac known for eating socks and tearing the shirts of poor grad students. Also on Facebook, a caretaker from Roxie's last months reveals the only known video of Roxie, which depicts her drinking water in the submarine/snorkel style of her final days.

Here, alas, is the final, poignant photograph taken of the embodied Roxie, on the last night of her earthly life:

(Photo Credit: Geoffrey [enhanced by Moose using Camera Bag], 12/29/09)

And below, for the benefit of new readers and fans who never knew Roxie in real life, is a reprint of a post we ran back in February when the universe of Facebook was consumed with the "25 Random Things About Me" meme. The list recounts many of the stories the moms have been telling over the course of the past few days, as they celebrate a long, joyous life and try to adjust to being without an animal companion for the first time in their nearly 26 years together. How are they coping? Goose is sleeping a lot, Moose hardly at all. They are talking about getting some new fish for the pond in the ridiculously large back yard. They are as grateful as it is possible to be for the love and kindness of friends near and far, which is the best cure for heartache on dog's earth. Thank you, everybody, and happy new year.

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Randomly Roxie
(Originally published February 6, 2009)

Not that anyone tagged me or anything, but I figure if both NYT and Wa Po have pieces on some cultural phenomenon on the same day, then in effect we’ve all been tagged and I should probably get in on the action. Both of the moms devoted significant chunks of last weekend to composing their lists of “25 Random Things About Me,” the meme that has been spreading like a virus through Facebook (who knew randomness could take so much time?). They then spent what was left of the weekend reading and commenting on other people’s lists to see if theirs were as clever and creative and charming and poignant as everybody else’s was. A week later, the nation’s papers of record weigh in to help us figure out if we are a nation of narcissists or a nation of strangers desperate for any way to connect with others – as long as we don’t actually have to, you know, interact with them. Third possibility: We are a nation of fiddlers frantically stroking our violins while the global economy goes up in flames all around us and our charming young president tries to figure out how to play hardball. Fourth possibility: People are stressed and looking for ways to laugh and decompress. If you don’t like the lists, then for dog’s sake don’t click on them.

We digress. Go read Krugman if you feel a need to get your knickers in a wad over the economy. We’re here to bare our souls, to share all that you’ve longed to know about us – and then some. Here, as randomly as my control freak of a German typist would allow me to make it, is my list of 25 Random Things About Me. Drum roll, please? Thank you!

1. I was born on Andrews Air Force Base, which is why I’ve always felt a cozy sense of familiarity with the military helicopters that regularly fly over our house. The moms were born in hospitals, which perhaps explains why they are less fond of helicopters and make frequent jokes about hand-held rocket launchers when there’s a chopper in the neighborhood.

2. In keeping with a tradition in Goose’s family of naming dogs after dead relatives, I was named after Moose’s maternal grandmother, Roxie Irene Brown.

3. My birth parents, a handsome pair of AKC-registered WFTs named Samantha and Gilligan, were named after protagonists of 60s sitcoms that the moms both watched and loved in their separate childhoods in Texas and Indiana.

4. I spit up on Goose in the car when the moms were driving me to my new home with them. She snuggled me closer and said it smelled sweet. I had a hunch I had stumbled into a pretty good deal when I leapt into her arms as they came through the door that beautiful May afternoon in 1994.

5. I’ve explained this before, but newer readers may not know that Moose and Goose got their names as a tribute to their different styles as dog parents. “Moose” is short for Mussolini, and “Goose” is short for Mother Goose. Guess who’s the disciplinarian and who’s the one we call the Freedom Schooler?

6. To Moose’s shame and considerable chagrin, I was an obedience school dropout. I got into quite a showdown one night with Renée, the rather formidable black dyke who ran the class, when she was trying to teach me the “down” command. Needless to say, though I understood it immediately, I did not cotton to this particular command, so I tried to bite Renée to convey my displeasure. Renée got down on her knees, put her hand around my throat, looked me right in the eye and thundered, “Bite or breathe, Roxie!” We never went back, and to this day I have never gone into a down for anyone, anywhere. I will, however, sit for treats and come, if it’s convenient.

7. Because it often wasn’t convenient for me to come when called, the moms would try to lure me inside by offering me favorite foods. Many an evening, they would find themselves on the deck singing out into the darkness, “Roxie, do you want some couscous?” or, “Roxie, do you want some cake?” depending on what was the most effective treat at the time. One of the most embarrassing moments of Moose’s life was when a neighbor asked her at a party, “Why are you always yelling ‘couscous’ into the back yard?”

8. My first dog pal was a German Short-Haired Pointer named Jazz, who made me think I was a very big dog indeed. I have never been given any reason to believe this is not the case.

9. The only thing I ever met that intimidated me was the Atlantic Ocean. When the moms took me for a walk on an ocean beach, I looked up at them as if to say, “Do not under any circumstances let me off my leash! What the heck is that?”

10. Of course, the moms would never have let me off my leash. When I was a speedy young cuss, though, I made a couple of great escapes out our front door. One time, Moose chased me barefooted through a neighbor’s back yard in the middle of a barbecue. “Excuse me!” she shouted as she raced after me. “She went thataway,” the bemused neighbor said.

11. Rather than chasing me, Goose would sit on a curb and pretend to cry when I got away. “Oh, boohoo-hoo, Roxie, please come back!” It actually worked, once, but then I figured out the trick and went on about my adventure. The best way to capture me was to get close to me in the car and say, in an exceptionally cheerful voice, “Roxie, you wanna go for a ride?” That’s an offer I never could refuse. My Aunt Margie caught me that way once when she joined in a neighborhood SWAT team that had been put together to find me.

12. Just last week, to prove that I am still an adventurer and still capable of mischief, I walked out the front door when no one realized it was open and took myself down to Sligo Creek Parkway, close by the trail where the moms and I used to walk miles and miles together. Some very responsible neighbors saw me and were concerned because of my shaky gait. They called the number on my tag and a grateful Goose came and picked me up. Both moms were impressed with my stamina and my instinct to return to the scene of so many long happy walks. “I’m still the mayor of this trail,” I reminded them.

13. The regal profile photograph of me up at the top of the sidebar was taken on my very first boat ride. We were visiting the Carolina Moosians at their vacation home on Smith Mountain Lake. Moose took the picture and titled it, with a hat tip to the Boss, “Let the Wind Blow Back Your Ears.

14. How weird are the moms? Part I: Moose has spent much of the week feeling that the 14th item on her list of “25 Random Things About Me” got her into some kind of karmic trouble. What was her 14th item?
My mother is a hypochondriac. My wholly rational reaction to this fact is that I don't believe in germs, allergies, flu shots, herbs, or doctors. If it can't be cured by Tums, Motrin, a stiff drink, or a long walk, I just don't want to mess with it.
And what has her week been like? She has had two doctor’s appointments, spent $300 on an anti-viral medication (because she refuses to pay for prescription drug coverage, convinced as she is that the pharmaceutical industry is more evil than the Taliban), and is spending Friday night in her red leather chair wondering what weird, unpleasant thing is going to happen next. She believes she tempted fate and that fate decided to kick her in the pants. (Don’t be alarmed, kids. You know Moose gets dramatic when she doesn’t feel well. She’s got chickenpox for grownups, which isn’t pretty but also isn’t fatal.)

15. How weird are the moms? Part II: Goose has spent much of the week trying to figure out just what to say or do for her grouchy, uncomfortable partner. “I wish I could fix it,” was met with a surly, “I’m sure you do.” “How ‘bout a drink?” “No, thanks. I’m watching my lips swell.” One minute Moose declares she is untouchable. The next Goose is summoned to the bathroom to put lotion on her back. It’s hard to be a ministering angel when the devil’s moved into the house.

16. One of my earliest fond memories is of running around our ridiculously large back yard while the moms were playing croquet with some friends. (This was their first season as homeowners. They were experimenting with different styles of suburban lesbianism.) I raced up and down the yard until I exhausted my tiny little self, at which point the croquet players started passing me from hand to hand so they could coo endearments into my ear. Someone started calling me “baby dog,” a term the moms still use when I do something exceptionally cute.

17. I have to confess that sometimes I have taken my job as security manager a little too seriously. On three occasions I have gotten into fights serious enough to draw blood while guarding my home territory. One of those fights was with my best dog pal, Chance, the high-strung but good-hearted border collie. We remain excellent friends to this day and blame our humans for the altercation.

18. My most selfless, heroic act ever was trying to save my trans-girl cat sister, Lily, who lapsed into a diabetic coma while the irresponsible humans were off at a concert. When they finally got home, I barked hysterically until they found Lily and then climbed up on the dining room table to watch over their efforts to resuscitate her. When she was better, I licked her face until it was clean of every trace of honey they had smeared on it. For the one and only time in her life, Lily reacted to my devoted attention with gratitude rather than feline contempt.

19. Like Goose, I have had two near-death experiences, one when I went into congestive heart failure not long after my mitral valve prolapse was diagnosed and the other when I had a vicious bout of pancreatitis in the summer of 2006. Moose set up my blog after the first incident and nearly shut it down after the second. Drama queen!

20. Humans will do amazing things for animals they love. When I went on a hunger strike after I started my heart meds, Goose cooked all my food for me – goulashes, meat loaves, grilled chicken. I lived like a queen! You all know about the liverwurst they use twice a day every day to get me to take my meds. Oh, they are clever, diabolical women.

21. I wander a lot these days inside the house. Sometimes I end up in corners and am not sure how I got there. Usually one of the moms comes along and turns me around. “Silly old girl,” she’ll say with a gentle rub behind an ear. Or at least I think that’s what she says. My old ears aren’t as sharp as they used to be.

22. A mystery: If humans are, for the most part, so kind to animals, why are they, too often, so unkind to one another and so terribly cruel to the planet that gives them life? I’ve spent many a long nap pondering this great conundrum and have never gotten anywhere near understanding it.

23. A dream: The three of us on the trail again, on a perfect afternoon in June, deciding to go all the way to Wayne and making up a song to sing on the long walk home.

24. If I could, I’d tag Chance and my pal Foxy, way out in the remote kingdom of Illinois, for this exercise. As it is, I’ll tag Historiann, because she hates Facebook, and my fellow WFT blogger, Buster. Keep it goin’, kids!

25. Here’s what Moose listed as the last of her “25 Things”:
Blogging will either be the ruin or the salvation of my academic career, but it gives me such profound creative, intellectual, and interpersonal pleasure that I honestly don't care where it leads. Note to students: Follow your bliss.
That sounds about right. Except for the blogging part. What the heck does Moose know about that? ;-)

Follow your bliss, beloveds. It’s the only thing that makes sense.

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