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Goodbye to Rosco, the dog Valjean

My parents did the best they could. Dad mentioned he’d been crying a lot. When I asked why, he told me Rosco died in his sleep the night before.

Rosco was a 13-year-old Staffordshire mix. He was one of the two dogs I wrote about a month ago. (“Dogs enforce New Year’s resolutions,” Jan. 1 Budgeteer)

But I don’t really want to focus on the end of his life. Instead, let me tell you a few stories about the wonderful and ridiculous dog.

My parents found Rosco in the Mesabi Range Humane Society around New Year’s Day in 2007. I was in eighth grade. Mom fell in love with him because he kept chasing his tail in his kennel. He became instant friends and brought new life to our older dog, Sport. The two caused shenanigans and tore apart many toys for the last two years of Sport’s life.

We didn’t pick the name Rosco but he already answered to it, so we stuck with it. However, that didn’t stop us from giving the dog many nicknames over the years. Each of us had our own nicknames for him. To my sister he was Rossy Bear, Fuzzy Bear and Cuddlekins. Dad always called him Bud or The Boy, partially because he was the only other male in a house full of women. Mom called him Rosco Bosco, Rossy, and, on one particularly flatulent day, Fartburger.

I could be a little creative with my nicknames. He had a reputation for stealing loaves of bread from the countertop when we first got him so he earned the nickname Dog Valjean, inspired by the main character in “Les Miserables.”

As he aged, he turned gray around the mouth and would sometimes bark at the door even though there was no one there. This reminded me of Don Quixote chasing after fantasies, so I called him “Dog Quixote.”

He was an escape artist who figured out how to open the front door. I called him “The Great Houndini.”

Rosco would eat just about anything. Whenever my father would chop up food at the kitchen table, he’d sit by the doorway to catch any scraps that he could. One day my father was chopping lettuce for salads when I came home from school. Dad placed a piece of lettuce on the floor for Rosco. The dog took two sniffs of it and walked away.

“What the heck? You always eat it when Judy [my mom] gives it to you.”

“Wait, watch this,” I picked up the lettuce, called Rosco back and threw it at him. He snapped it up and swallowed it whole.

“Oh, is that the trick? You have to throw it at him?”

“Yeah, Dad, he likes a tossed salad.”

He wasn’t picky about toys. His favorite toys were plain pieces of rope from the hardware store with a few knots tied into the ends. He’d play tug-of-war for hours. Sometimes, he’d play by himself. The rest of the family would be visiting or watching TV, when we’d suddenly hear a playful “Mwar!” and see Rosco throw and then pounce upon his rope.

He was one of the most vocal dogs we’d had, though my parents’ new dog, Juniper, is pretty talkative as well. Rosco would have “conversations” with Dad when he got treats.

Rosco loved to run and sometimes he'd get loose and run around the neighborhood for hours. But he never strayed more than a few blocks from the house. He'd come back and bark at the door. As soon as you stepped outside to catch him, the brat would take off running again. When he got tired or hungry, he would eventually come home. Dad said the reason he’d stick so close to home was because he'd been a stray before and he knew he'd found a good home.

“He didn’t want to lose sight of a good thing,” Dad said.

Goodbye, Rosco. You were the best of dogs and the best of friends.

Teri Cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Budgeteer.

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