Roscoe, the Guide to Change

In October 2014, a miniature schnauzer with a huge heart showed up on our doorstep. We had no idea what an immense help he has proven to be ever since. This is his story, which coincided with a lot of loss and change for me.

I’ve had a lot on my plate lately. We all go through such phases when undergoing a transition and when everything seems to happen at once. On a recent commute on the jammed Katy freeway, I let go of the steering wheel a moment to relax. There certainly was no peril as the vehicle wasn’t moving. I took this moment to reflect and calm myself. Then a text chime came over the phone. Funny how we all have a Pavlovian response nowadays to phone alerts. “I guess Chief will be staying overnight,” my boyfriend texted, prompting the question, “Who’s Chief?” The reply message was a blurry snapshot of a charcoal gray miniature schnauzer.

Chief sauntered up to my boyfriend in the driveway, wearing a collar and a 2013 rabies tag with a San Antonio vet’s phone number. The vet’s office supplied the owner’s cell phone. Suffice it to say, the man said he did not want the dog back. We tried a mini schnauzer rescue group, but there was so much need there already, our application was lost in the shuffle. At that point, we had already resolved to help this guy.

Initially, when I heard Chief was staying the night, I was selfishly annoyed. We had three dogs, including a bossy Molly who doesn’t like newcomers too much and a bratty domineering hound who does not like competition. How would a fourth creature affect the dynamic? I was exhausted and it wasn’t just the commute, but other financial and family affairs I was trying to box in and getting organized. I got home, took one look at the incredibly cute “Chief” and reminded myself of a need to provide room for others’ needs. It turned out Chief himself demonstrates great capacity for the needs of others.

At first, he seemed like a miniature gray alien scuttling around nervously throughout the house, often under foot of humans and the big dogs. He cried and cried his second night because I had kept him out of the master bedroom to avoid tension with the big dogs. I gave in and carried him into the guest bedroom, shut the door and laid us both on the comforter. His tiny torso was heaving with the rabid breath of anxiety. I rested a hand over this trembling belly and felt his warmth. The breathing immediately calmed and we both fell fast asleep. I awoke in the morning with Chief gently cuddled against me. He’s like that. Irresistible.

We decided Chief was a name that should be dropped because it was given to him by a person who did not want him anymore. We went with Roscoe as we all were already inadvertently calling him that due to his resemblance in stature to an aunt’s Yorkie. For a little bit, “Chief Roscoe” was used for a transition. That really was not needed as he is smart enough to know we christened him Roscoe.

We all took to him. Scrubbing him in the sink, some grime washed away revealing some of his fur is a blondish tan. His body language changed after the spa treatment, demonstrating he felt more comfortable in our home because he was treated with care and respect. He started mini growling at the big dogs when they sought to mess with him. His personality emerged more as he relaxed. He began routinely shaking his booty with a nubby tail leaving the optical illusion of persistence of motion.

Oddly, Molly did not mind him at all. She seemed bemused by his presence. Higgins on the other hand was not amused. In the midst of all this, family came to visit for a long weekend. Upon our return from an afternoon outing, Higgins and Chester came rushing to the door. But in silence. No bark greetings. No Molly. Something’s wrong with Molly, I heard myself yelp. In the kitchen, she lay on the floor, unable to rise and obviously ailing. We called the vet. The vet called the emergency animal hospital. We opted to monitor her condition. It became a dour Halloween. We put a note outside with a bowl of candy for treat or trickers as we did not want the commotion of doorbell chimes and strangers to jar Molly. We kept watch. Higgins and Chester stayed away. But not Chief. I mean Roscoe. Roscoe laid down next to Molly, and rested alongside her. A big fluffy golden old chow chow suffering, but not alone. Roscoe stayed with her. We had to say good-bye to Molly in the morning. The house was subdued for a couple of days as three surviving dogs mourned Molly and tried to figure out who was in charge with her gone.

A week later, another vet’s office visit, but instead of the end of life, it was the start of a new beginning for Roscoe. My boyfriend’s parents are going to take him as their own at Thanksgiving and it was time for Roscoe to have a certain procedure. Poor Roscoe came back to our house post-surgery with a giant cone terribly outsized for the little guy. First, he lumbered with it, and eventually slumbered with it. The first night, thought, he whimpered extensively. Empathizing with the apparent discomfort, Higgins changed his demeanor toward little guy and sat stoically beside Roscoe, in apparent solidarity of the fraternity of neutered dogs. 

Roscoe came to view his Elizabethan collar as a protective cone, shielding him from the big dogs nipping at his little-bitty head and neck. Roscoe even decided it would be fun to charge at big Chester, using the cone like a jouster’s shield.

Besides making for great company, who is Roscoe and why is he here? How did our journey’s align? They say God never puts more on your plate than you can handle. It seems God sent this angel to remind me to remain open to making room for others. That is Roscoe.