I’m a dog person. I love a leg-slap by a happy tail. I love wiggly butts waiting for me at the door. I love joyful barks and big ol’ toothy grins and the uninhibited affection that only dogs can offer.
I’ve always been a dog person. And that’s exactly why I struggled with Roo, the Chihuahua-ish mix that Todd adopted right before we started dating.
At first glance, you’d probably say Roo was a dog. Although we all agreed, she looked more like the lovechild of Dobby from Harry Potter and Yoda. She had ears that stuck out from the sides of her head, oversized bulging eyes, a pink nose, and a tongue that seemed far too long for her mouth.
Despite her perplexing appearance, Roo was in fact a dog. A very, very peculiar dog.
She never barked. Or learned a single trick. She looked irritated and incredulous when scolded. She hated the cold. And the rain. And the outdoors. She didn’t care much for food. Or chew toys. Or other dogs.
What Roo did care for was sleep. She slept with us in bed—under the covers—every night. And she growled if you happened to nudge her while shifting your position.
While our two pit bulls pounced on our faces at 6:00 a.m., Roo preferred to stay tucked beneath the blankets, snoozing the day away. We’d have to pull the covers off her and coax her out of bed when it was time for us to go to work.
Roo also differed from other dogs in the things she liked: going to the vet, bath time, and wearing cable-knit sweaters. If we could have heard her voice, Todd and I imagined Roo sounded something like an old, crotchety British professor.
She loved to play, but only in 15 second increments—and only on her terms. She loved our other two pups, as long as they were quiet, still, and keeping her warm. She loved being held, but of course, she hated being picked up.
It never failed that as I tried to sit down on the couch, Roo’d hop into my lap before I could even get settled. I’d be trapped awkwardly holding her 22-pound physique asking Todd to pass me my glass of wine so as not to disturb her.
Roo also had a funny way of greeting me when I’d get home each day. She would prance up to me, struggling to squeeze in among our two bigger pups. She’d curl her lips around her teeth in what most people would clearly call a snarl, but I knew it was just her strange, excited hello.
Weekend mornings were Roo’s time to shine. After we’d let the other pups out to play in the yard, Roo would crawl her way to the top of the bed, roll over on her back between Todd and me, and bask in belly rubs. Then she’d give the sweetest little kisses for as long as our faces were within her tongue’s impressive reach.
The people who met Roo either loved her instantly or didn’t get her at all. I hate to admit that for a long time, I was the latter. I was a dog person. And Roo didn’t act like a dog.
But my hesitation didn’t affect how she treated me. When Todd and I moved in together two years ago, she adopted me as her owner with full confidence. Todd hates to admit it, but she loved me the most—and without ever wanting anything in return.
It took me a while to figure out, but Roo’s unconditional love made her more of a dog than tail-chasing or squirrel-hunting ever could.
I’m a dog person. Roo was my dog. And last week, we had to say goodbye.
I’ve never had a pet that’s so completely irreplaceable, and I doubt I ever will. My little Roo-Bug was dearly loved and will be greatly missed.