We said goodbye to Rosie last week.

She was 14 and a half, but you wouldn’t know it to look at her. She was still alert, interested, excited to go wherever you were going. But she couldn’t do that any more. Her body was failing her, letting her spirit down, breaking bit by bit. She just couldn’t come with us any more. We had to say goodbye.

Rosie came into our lives in 2010 when she was just 8 weeks old. We found her through some backyard breeder who posted a classified ad on, I don’t know, Gumtree I think? Or even the fucking Quokka, if anyone remembers that? We didn’t know what we were doing. We just wanted a puppy, and she saw us sitting there on the grass in some bloke’s yard in Wanneroo, and she got up and left her littermates behind, and wandered over to come and say hello to us. And we got a puppy.

I don’t even know how to begin picking out some of the things about Rosie that I want to share. We had her for so long that I feel everyone who is going to read this knows everything there is to know about her already. She was fiercely loyal. She was fiercely stupid. She was pure and without guile and so, so happy to be our dog. She was always ready to buy into our transparently concocted fantasy where we urgently needed a qualified professional to taste-test this bowl of popcorn, to make sure it was safe for us to eat.

Even if the only thing she was going to do on any given day was snore loudly while you ignored her to do some silly things on the computer that she didn’t understand, you still knew – you knew – that simply being there with you was the only thing in the world that she wanted to do. She loved us, and she licked our faces when we cried, and she yelled at people on bicycles, and she farted terribly, and she ate things she shouldn’t have, and she threw up and she did it all over again.

The house is so quiet without her. I never thought about how much sheer presence she had until it was gone. She was always there to follow you excitedly when you walked around, or to reach down and touch for a quick pat or belly rub, or even just faithfully providing ambient background gurgling and farting to fill the silence as you worked. All that is left are 14 years of ingrained habits that lead to sharp stabs of disappointment and crying, and clumps of dog hair that I haven’t swept up yet.

On Christmas Eve in 2022, without warning, Rosie’s back legs gave out. It’s still burned into my memory how quickly it happened. She came into the bedroom and lay down in her little dog bed, and then she tried to get up and she just couldn’t.

I remember freaking out and chasing after her as she dragged herself down the hallway, not caring and only mildly confused that her back legs were spasming and flailing behind her. I remember running around frantically on Christmas Eve, on Christmas Fucking Eve, trying to get in to see the vet. I remember crying as the vet explained that the surgery to fix this would be $10,000 and that at her age the chances of success weren’t great anyway, or that the only other alternative was to wait and see, and either way it was “time to start thinking about quality of life”.

We didn’t really stop crying for Rosie since then. I feel like we’ve been crying for Rosie on and off for the last 18 months. We must have had The Big Conversation so many times.

Her legs did get a bit better for a while and she wobbled around the house in cute little grippy booties, but eventually – inevitably – they gave out again. She spent the last six months being supported in a little sling, unable to move without assistance but still so excited nevertheless to be picked up and taken to another bed in another room, as long as she could see you. More problems developed slowly as other systems started to fail, but we adapted. We changed our schedules and got more medications and and limited our travel and left events early to get home and look after her and did everything we could to keep her going.

Already best friends, our cat Evy became more and more affectionate as Rosie slowed down. She would spend hours at a time in Rosie’s bed, curled up against her, purring happily or licking Rosie’s ears or paws. There were times when I thought I didn’t need to take yet another photo of them being so fucking heartbreakingly, achingly cute together. Now I’m glad I took as many as I did. I wish I had taken even more.

Sometimes things are too much to bear. Sometimes when you cry and you have The Big Conversation for the hundredth time you realise that’s finally it: you have no choice, nothing left but to do the last thing in the world that you want to do. And sometimes being a pet owner means being a responsible adult. And being a responsible adult makes you feel like absolute fucking shit.

Rosie loved everyone she ever met. If you’re reading this, know that Rosie loved you. Even if she never met you. She loved you and she would have put her head on you and licked you, and let you slap her tummy or scruff her neck or play with her big silly wet lips.

I miss her so much. I feel like someone has cut off one of my limbs.

Thank you for everything, Rosie. Good job, dingus. You did so good, didn’t you? You did so good. I love you.

18/12/2009 – 06/05/2024

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