Roxee: the best farmhand

Nine and a half years ago, my boyfriend/partner drove to America to a small town in Minnesota to pick up our little bundle of joy; a black lab. She was very little, and I was nervous that she was leaving her family too soon as I had read that leaving their mom and litter mates early often meant a more aggressive dog. We had agreed on her name, Roxee, after a fair bit of discussion. Roxee arrived in January so there was a fair bit of chores to do. She tried hard to keep up, but I often had to carry her in briefcase type bag because her legs would tire quickly. Nanny loved dogs so we would go in the morning, usually for a coffee break and I would pack her in the bag, because I didn’t want her dog to hurt her. It wasn’t long until she reached a bit of a sassy stage. I can still picture putting her in the kennel for nighttime and she would talk back about that.

I enjoyed getting her at that time of year (winter) as that is my home time but as spring approached and I would get busy back at the Station we decided we would make her a nice outdoor kennel where she would be safe and comfortable. My boyfriend/partner built her a beautiful doghouse that featured a comfortable deck that she spent a lot of time on. We did joke about installing air conditioning in her house; well, I joked about it, but I think Clayton would have done it. For the most part my mom or dad would come over around noon and put her in the air-conditioned house, so she was out of the heat. (Though we built the kennel in the shade under the cedar trees.)

She did go through one small bad stage. She really liked to get on a rabbit trail or other smell, and she would ignore us calling her back. I even missed a meeting because I was too scared to leave her in case I came home and something bad would have happened to her. We quickly corrected that, and she never left our sides after. We rarely even had a leash on her. I never liked her to wear a collar because it messed up her hair.

She would visit Clayton’s house or be with me at the Research Station and she would just sleep on the step. Though there were a few times when there were many people at the Funeral Home next door it really bothered her that she couldn’t go and greet them.

She loved to help on the farm. I often told people she was a fair weathered dog because she didn’t always like to work in the wet, in the heat or the cold. (Yes, Roxee was a black lab but she wasn’t crazy about the water.) She would start off calving season never missing a trip to the barn, but that quickly faded, and she would stay in and keep the bed warm.

She was a great gate watcher or if she wasn’t watching I just had to hit the horn and she knew what that meant. If you ever used an angry voice when a cow or sheep or whatever didn’t do what they were supposed to do, she was there. She never hurt any of the animals, ducks, lambs, rabbits – in fact Black Bettie the house bunny was likely more of a pain to Roxee by jumping on her.

She hated fire and that was my fault due to a small fire I had at the Research Station trying to dry someone’s corn down one time.

She would spend hours and hours going for rides. Clayton built boxes and cozy, comfortable places for her to ride on 4-wheelers, side by sides and 6-wheelers. She did get hurt once on the 6-wheeler and we were devastated but she did recover pretty good. I slept with her more than once in her dog bed when she was spayed and with her leg injury.

Clayton retired a year ago and moved in with her and I; I don’t know who was happier – him or her. They used to only get to go out to lunch once a week but after retirement they found excuses to go out for breakfast or lunch. We treated her like a kid, and she would even recognize Damien as “her brother.” All we had to say was, “your brother is coming,” and she would be wagging her tail waiting to see him.

Roxee was known by many as our lives revolved around her and she went most places with us.

Last Monday night I came home from work and she happily came running to greet me. She’d spent the day with Clayton and gone to McDonalds for breakfast that morning. The routine when I arrived home was to immediately follow me in the house for a couple of treats because she felt she deserved them for staying home all day. (She never thought I knew…) It was only a short while later she became agitated and we know something was up. We ended up taking her to town for her last trip and our hearts have been broken ever since. We said good-bye to one the sweetest, well behaved dogs and this is going to hurt for a while.

The biggest problem with a dog, is they just don’t live long enough.