In the late summer of 2004 I had decided to make a major purchase that would set me back $350. So, on that fateful day, I made the drive down to South Hill and to a kennel that was raising Labrador retrievers that had a new litter of puppies to choose from. The owner took me out back where she had all the puppies in a single cage. As I looked in the cage, I saw that there were six pups in there which were already showing different personalities. I remember one that was alone in the back and the other five ran up front, probably wondering if the cage was about to open. Of those five, there was one who jumped up and down and on top of his littermates. I knew immediately, that was the dog for me. I gave the lady my money and took the little chocolate lab and placed him in the passenger’s seat. On the long drive home, I decided on a name: Roscoe.
Smart new dog owner that I was back then, I figured that while I was at work, I could put him in the kitchen with a gate blocking his exit. The floor was linoleum, so if he had to make a mess while I was gone, it would be easy to clean up. The first day after getting home from work, I soon remembered something else that I kept in the kitchen, under the sink: the dog food. Although he was only a couple months old, he had managed to eat the entire 5 lb bag of dog food and I think he was able to keep down a couple ounces of it, the rest had run through his body and deposited on the kitchen floor. OK, I thought, I obviously need to get a dog crate, which I did, along with a nice comfy dog bed to put inside so that he would be comfortable while I was gone. I bet most of you already know where this is going. The next day after buying the dog bed, I came home and the stuffing was scattered all over the floor of the crate.
The job that I had at the time required me to work until midnight once a month. On those nights, I would have my girlfriend watch him at her place. She lived in a townhouse and Roscoe’s favorite spot to sit there while she was sleeping was at the top of the stairs outside of her room. One night, when I unlocked the door, Roscoe didn’t recognize me right away and bared his teeth and I felt like he was about to jump down the stairs and attack. When he recognized me, I know he felt a little embarrassed. I knew then that he loved the woman who would soon be my wife and that I could trust him to protect her when I was gone. For the past dozen years, even in the last couple of months when it was hard for him to get up, he would always put himself in the guarding posture. Such as when my wife and I tuck our son into bed and say our prayers; Roscoe would always walk down the hall and lay down outside of Connor’s room.
Roscoe loves his walks and especially the hikes where he would get to jump into the car. On one occasion, Kim and I took him on a hike that seemed to go on forever at a sixty degree incline. Obviously it wasn’t that steep, but it seemed like it. About every quarter mile or so, we would all stop and get a drink of water (including Roscoe). By the time we got the end of the hike, Roscoe was dog-tired (pun intended). His tongue was hanging out, he was breathing heavy, but he also had on a big smile; thankful to be included on the adventure.
When our son came along, you could tell that Roscoe was jealous of the attention that we gave him, but when our infant son was in bed, Roscoe took his position outside of Connor’s room as the newest member of the pack was sleeping.
For the last fourteen-plus years, Roscoe and my family have been on a lot of adventures. I never knew that when I went to South Hill all those years ago, that I was really buying a best friend. Over the last several months, Roscoe was having an increasingly difficult time moving around and his soft whimpers let us know that he was in pain. Yesterday, my family had to say good-bye to him for the last time and I held his paw as he peacefully went to sleep.
I am not sure if there will be dogs in heaven, but I suspect there will be. When God created everything and called it good, dogs were part of His creation. While humanity stands alone as the image-bearers of God, with the time I had with Roscoe, I saw through the eyes of my furry friend such love and devotion which I know I didn’t deserve.
As the grains of sand slip through the hourglass of time, the waves of sadness over his absence will be replaced with the remembrance of the many good times that that the Lord has blessed us with while Roscoe was here. He will be missed, but never forgotten.