This letter came across the desk of our Director of Annual Giving, Peter Larson today. Peter shared the letter with me, and after we both wiped away our tears, we thought this was something we should share with all of you, as it speaks to the precious moments and gifts that having a pet in our life can give us.
The letter is by Rob Blizard, a long time supporter of the Washington Humane Society (WHS) and a member of our monthly sustainer program. Rob has also included WHS as a beneficiary in his estate plans.
I am writing today to thank you for giving me a wonderful friend with whom I shared my life for 11 years. Unfortunately, my dog Roxanne passed away on January 5, 2008 from congestive heart failure, and I miss her greatly. It comforts me to know your organization helped bring this wonderful character into my world and I wanted to let you know how grateful I am for all that you do. (photo below of Roxanne)
I adopted my first dog, Daisy, who is 13-years-old and doing very well from WHS in 1995. More than twelve years ago—I can hardly believe it…more than a quarter of my life.
Once Daisy had become part of my household for more than a year, I went back to WHS to find us another friend to share our home.
Daisy and I adopted a shih tzu/Yorkie mix from WHS in November 1996. It was not the first time she had been at the WHS shelter, however. As a 10-week-old puppy she had been adopted through WHS in the summer of 1995 by someone who a year later relinquished her because of chewing—which was a behavior that Roxanne never really outgrew. I am only now learning that I can place a nice blanket on my bed and not worry about her making Swiss cheese out of it.
It was a chilly, rainy winter evening the night Daisy and I went down to the New York Avenue shelter operated by WHS to pick up our new friend. This is the moppet who later became Roxanne.(photo below of Roxanne and Daisy)
She came into the shelter with the name Sasha, and it was nearly a month before I could think of a name that truly spoke to her manner. I finally decided on Roxanne with the nickname Roxie because her twirling and jumping when she knew she was going to get a treat reminded me of Rocky dancing around on the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
At first, Roxie’s hair was scant. She also was not affectionate, disliked walking on a leash and objected to be taken out in the rain. Although she never became a fan of the great outdoors, she soon became a very sweet and loving companion—as well as the alpha dog over Daisy, even though Roxie was younger, smaller and newer to the household.
During her eleven years, she won ribbons at the Pets-DC dog show in Dupont Circle (including second place for Least Obedient), loved to spend time with her grandparents, adored car rides, traveled to Rehoboth Beach and the Outer Banks, threw herself onto her back for belly rubs at the drop of a hat, and entertained at parties where she never failed to show off her prairie dog imitation when she stood upright on her haunches to beg for food. She also went to my office with me, appeared on a closed-circuit TV program, and graced a Dog Fancy magazine article on animal-oriented license plates. My license plate at the time said 2MUTTZ, and she was pictured standing on the car’s trunk and overlooking the plate.
After eleven years together, she would still shake when anyone had to leave her at home. I used to joke that the lyrics of the 1977 song The Goodbye Girl, from the comedy movie of the same name, described her perfectly.
As 2007 wore on, Roxanne unfortunately developed breathing problems as a result of congestive heart failure. I knew this Christmas would be her last. On January 5th, Roxie and I both knew the time had come, and she could no longer carry on; I took her to my veterinarian in Gaithersburg for euthanasia—but I could not go through it because her breathing problem had subsided for a bit and the doctor said we could try new medications. I was so glad for a way out, albeit a very temporary one.
Sadly, that very same night I had to take her to the emergency veterinary clinic in Rockville for euthanasia on a chilly, rainy evening not unlike the night I adopted her. In the car, she wanted to get into the front seat, even though I, flooded with grief, had sat in the backseat to be with her while my partner drove.
Her death was a very sad moment for me as I held her on a table and in a towel, making her final moments calm and serene. Still, I was comforted in knowing that there are worse fates for animals than this and she died as an animal who had lived a pleasant life and brought joy to many.
I can still see the soul in her brown eyes even after I knew she was no longer alive. Her little 18-pound body could just not keep up with her indomitable spirit that lingered.
My Goodbye Girl was both loving and brave till the end. She loved to eat and on her last day I gave her an extra bowl of food. I can still see her gobbling up the food as she had done, literally, thousands of times before.
I am saving her ashes to be spread with mine and Daisy’s when the time comes. In the meantime, I thank WHS for all it does for all animals—including Roxanne and Daisy, whom I always refer to as The Girls. They changed my life and opened my eyes to many animal issues, including the scourge of heartbreaking cruelty and neglect faced by so many loving, unfortunate innocents.
Although The Girls no longer exist in one sense, they will go on forever for me in another. Thanks so much to WHS for making it all possible.