There’s this space. It’s a narrow space between my side of the bed and my dresser. It’s wide enough to walk through, but just barely.
That’s the space my Rottweiler mix Roxy chose to sleep — despite having two dog beds of her own. She squeezed herself into that narrow space, which meant I usually had to climb in and out of bed over the footboard then crawl my way up the mattress.
Not that I blamed her.
When I first adopted Roxy from the Carson City Animal Shelter in November 2005, as an abandoned, likely abused, 2-year-old, she had her own set of anxieties that often manifested in aggression.
I understood that. I tend to manifest my anxieties the same way.
So we spent a lot of time, especially in the beginning, working through them. We went to dog parks and trails with other humans, and over time she learned she didn’t have to be so defensive. She learned to trust more.
We were both braver together.
Other people helped. The more people we had over, the less she felt the need to protect her home or me — but that was not before several friends and family members were on the receiving end of her threatening behaviors.
I always knew she wasn’t really serious …
She spent most of her days while I was at work at the business next door. Sometimes, they’d throw parties in the evenings. I’d sit home alone waiting for Roxy’s social life to get over.
At nights, she’d sleep next to me. She had her own full-size mattress on box springs next to my queen-size bed.
That was our setup when I met Gary. When he moved in, things had to change. More furniture meant there wasn’t room anymore for Roxy’s bed.
So I made up a dog bed at the foot of ours for her. She would lie in it now and then, but for the most part, she continued to sleep next to me.
It only made sense because when she was awake, she was always next to me.
For 15 years, we traveled, explored and relaxed together. Some people refer to their animals as their babies, Roxy always felt more like a sister to me.
She brought as much to the relationship as I did.
When my husband, Gary, came into my life three years ago, Roxy was already an old dog. Her abilities were limited and her mind was slipping.
Still, he loved her. And she loved him. I always joked he came into a needy household. We both snuggled up to him for affection, and he always came through.
His children loved her, too. And I was grateful.
It’s been three weeks now since I had to put her down. I still can’t quite come to terms with losing my friend. I expect to see her when I walk through the door. Before I stand up, I always look under my feet to make sure I’m not going to step on her.
I just expect her to be next to me, like she has been for so many years.
But now there’s just this space.
Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.