Remembering Charlie

January 8, 2019 by Nicole Collins

Today, we're remembering my baby boy: Charlie Roo.

He's been gone a week now. And honestly, it's been the longest week of my life. I've really been struggling. So, I decided to tell you guys about it and about him.

You could call this post a heartfelt goodbye. You could call it grief therapy. So, if that's not what you're in to...thanks for stopping by today. I'll have more recipes coming later this week. But, if you want to know a little more about what made him so special...here we go.

I adopted Charlie on December 28, 2012. He belonged to the cousin of one of my employees at the time. They had a couple dogs and a couple of small kids, and it had all become a little much for them. So, since Charlie was the newest to their family, and honestly he needed the most attention, they decided to look for a new home for him.

I don't even know how the conversation came up about him. I certainly hadn't been looking for another doggie. Bella and I were doing just fine as a dynamic duo. But, I made the decision, which was a little crazy for me at the time, to go meet him. And the next thing you know, he's in my passenger seat coming home with me.

He didn't have the greatest start in his little life. His first owner kept him on a leash 24/7. If he was outside, he was on a leash. If he was inside, he was on a leash. If he was sleeping, he was on a leash. When she decided she couldn't take care of him anymore, he ended up with the family I adopted him from.

In his second home, there was another aggressive doxie that used to pick on him. He'd steal his food, which is what led to Charlie's habit of scarfing down his food and trying to steal any food he laid eyes on. He also spent a lot of his time in a crate at his second home. He seemed to like it. He had a good set up in there. I've never been able to crate either of my dogs, so it was just a little heartbreaking to me thinking of him in a crate the majority of the time.

The thing about Charlie is that all he ever wanted was love. He was the sweetest boy with the kindest disposition and the biggest heart. And, he just didn't get a whole lot of love in the first few years of his little life.

When I first brought him home, he didn't even know how to let me hold him. He was so awkward and dangly. He'd obviously never really been snuggled before. But, he learned. He learned to trust me. He learned how to let me hold him, and kiss him, and beg him to curl up with me. And, it didn't take long for him to learn how to ask me to hold him by jumping up on my leg if we were standing. And if we were sitting, there was no question. He'd jump in my lap, stretch out his back, and lay in my arms like my little baby.

He was definitely very submissive and a total scaredy cat. He'd be the first to roll over and yell “mercy” if Bella and him were playing. He would also run straight to my lap if she growled at him or scared him. I swear, it's like he was saying “mom, protect me!”

He was, no doubt, a mama's boy.

He was also terribly smart which made him adorably cute and absolutely rotten. He could entertain himself for hours by hiding his ball in his blankie and trekking it all over the living room. If you were playing ball with him, he'd roll the ball to you with his nose instead of walking it back to you...it was the cutest thing you've ever seen.

But, using that big old brain of his is also how he'd figure out how jump up on a chair to jump up on the table and try to steal my food; hop on the the windowsill in my bedroom window and practice his tightrope act; jump into the trash can and redecorate the kitchen; or find the loose fence post, sneak in to the neighbors yard, and go play for a while until I called him back and watched him squeeze right back through the fence.

I think he was pretty freaking adorable 24/7, but he was especially cute when he was sleeping. He slept like a little person. He'd fold his hands under his face or he'd tuck himself in with his head on the pillow and his body under the covers.

I swear, he was too stinking cute.

One of my favorite things about him were his paper thin ears. They were always flipped around in the craziest directions. I swear, I spent the majority of our time together restoring his ears back to factory settings. I'd say “you've got your ears on backwards, man”, and he'd sit perfectly still while I'd fix them for him. Then, in the next moment...backwards again. Those ears...

He was my shadow. He followed me everywhere. Even if I told him to stay because I'd be right back, he just wanted to be near me. He'd wake up out of a dead sleep to go to the bathroom with me. And if he was playing outside and couldn't see me through the door, he'd scream bloody murder until I was in his line of sight again.

I'm not sure anyone will ever love me like he did. His love was so pure and unconditional. Even if he was punished, he wasn't in trouble long because the love in his eyes was his saving grace every time.

He loved his mama like crazy. He loved his sister like crazy. He was just so full of love. It's amazing how so much love can fit in one tiny body.

In the wee hours of the morning on New Year's Eve, he was up sick 3 times during the night. The night before he wasn't acting himself and just kind of wanted to be alone. I knew that was unlike him, but just figured it would pass.

When we finally got up in the morning, he didn't want to eat. So, I knew something was REALLY wrong; because that boy LOVED to eat. He had another big throw up session outside, then he stayed curled up in his bed.

While I was working on testing a recipe, he made this terrifyingly awful scream and this weird backward stretch on his bed. I had no idea what was happening, but that's the moment I decided to take him straight to the doggie doctor. I left the kitchen a mess, grabbed a blanket in case he got sick in the car, and off we went.

I had no idea that's the last time he'd be in my house.

He kept having these episodes where he'd be standing and then he'd just fall over on his side and collapse. I later found out these were seizures. The per ER doctor was concerned, because she also heard a very irregular heartbeat on top of these seizures and some tenderness in his belly. He had a lot going on. So, she recommended a whole laundry list of tests, a visit with the cardiologist, and a stay overnight. We were both under the impression I'd be picking him up the next morning with a solid gameplan.

When the cardiologist called only a few hours later, I knew it wasn't going to be good news. She told me he had a complete heart block along with some other medical things that I didn't totally understand. But, the ultimate decision was a $6,000 surgery to replace his pacemaker that he very well might not survive because his heart rate was so low and he needed to go under complete anesthesia or to stop treatment and put him down.

What an impossible decision.

Of course any surgery has risks, but the way she described his limited life after surgery (if the surgery was successful) was not the kind of life he'd be able to live. And the chance of him surviving the surgery was just not high enough. I'd have found a way to pay any dollar amount in this universe if I thought life would go back to normal for both of us after this surgery, but we all knew that wasn't possible. After I told the doctor my decision to stop treatment, she told me she agreed. And, I know she's not supposed to tell me that.

By the time I got back to the pet ER, he'd been having these seizures every few minutes. It was starting to damage his brain. He was definitely not the same little guy he was even 24 hours earlier. So, if there had been any doubt that I'd made the right decision, I knew when I saw him. Though I didn't want to believe it, I knew. So, I said my goodbyes, rubbed his ears, kissed his nose, and held him tight while he went to heaven.

This is the first time I've ever lost a dog. But, it's been so much more that that. Bella and Charlie were the first lives I've ever been responsible for other than my own. And, the three of us are all we've got in our house. I don't have a big family or lots of people around all of the time. It's the pups and me. So, this feels a lot like losing a child, I'd imagine.

I'm sure there are a lot of people that don't understand why I'm taking this so hard. There's a distinct difference between pet owners and pet moms. I didn't just have him to have a dog. He was a member of my family. My baby. My handsome boy.

The worst part is how sudden and unexpectedly it happened. He was such a young soul that I forget he was an older dog. Though, 10 yrs old is still too young in my book.

I'd actually been preparing myself for months for Bella to go. She's been moving really slow and breathing really heavy the past few months. And, they're both getting old. My mom and I had talked about what would happen to little Charlie when she went. But, I guess God knew that his heart couldn't handle losing her, so he took Charlie first.

Like I said, it's only been a week since one of the worst days of my life. But, every day I feel a little more and a little more like I'm coming back to life. I miss him terribly. That's an understatement. There are no words for how badly I miss him. But, Bella and I are trying to find our normal again. We're even looking for a new doggie that needs a good home and lots of love.

There's absolutely no replacing this sweet boy, but I know that my heart will be full again when a new dog finds me and steals my love.

So, that's the story of how Charlie entered and exited my life. These pics below are of his first and his last day with me.

Thanks for taking the time to learn about him, to hear our story, and to remember him with me. The pictures are unedited, mostly candid, and as real as it gets in today's post. This is my real life.

I love you guys. Back to your regularly scheduled programming soon.

Charlie Roo: 7/31/08 – 12/31/18

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