Mornings with Roxy: Slice of Life #sol18


My mornings begin with a cup of coffee and a book, my notebook, or my laptop. I settle myself into an overstuffed arm chair that my son swapped out with a dining room chair and pull myself up to the dining room table, now used for holding book stacks and feeding cats instead of people. When you have eight cats, they tend to take over your space.

I am never settled for long before my thirteen-year-old pit bull, Roxy, joins me. She’s deaf now, but somehow she always hears me when I sit down in our chair, and she rouses herself from sleep elsewhere and staggers into the dining room. She stands there blinking at me expectantly. She wants to get into the chair, but she can’t make it on her own anymore. Occasionally, when she’s having a spry day, she’ll try, but she usually ends up on her back like a turtle that has tipped over. Then she blinks expectantly once again, to communicate the need for a different kind of help. She’s sixty pounds and top heavy and I sometimes struggle to right her when she ends up upside down. She’s very good about not complaining.

I hop up and move the chair farther away from the table. I grasp her waist to let her know I’m ready. She lifts her front legs, and I lift her back legs. I swivel her back end around so that she only has to collapse in place to be comfortable. She lets out a sigh, then curls into a tight ball that still takes up three-quarters of the chair. I am left with mere inches of chair space. I used to nudge her aside and make her share the chair more equitably, but now I let her be. Before long, she’s snoring.

We have spent our mornings together for over twelve years now, though the routine has changed. Morning naps gradually replaced morning walks. Some mornings, she doesn’t even want to navigate the stairs to go outside. It’s straight from her bed to our chair.

On a good morning, we have a couple of hours together before anyone else gets up. I read and write. She snores and grunts. We are often joined by cats. When I remember, I pet her head or tell her she’s a good dog, even though she can’t hear me.

Every morning when I help her up onto the chair, I wonder about our last morning. I know it’s coming. Each day, her back legs fail a little more. Each day, it’s a little harder to get out to the yard. Each day, she sleeps a little more.

But she still wiggles and waggles like a young dog when we come home from an afternoon away. She’s still so excited by her nightly Kong filled with peanut butter that she scampers across the floor, sometimes wiping out more than once. She still enjoys a nap on the porch in the sunshine, especially if she’s joined by a cat or four.

It’s not our last morning. Not yet. And I am grateful for that.

roxy and zorro.JPG







27 responses to “Mornings with Roxy: Slice of Life #sol18”

  1. elsie Avatar

    This post makes my heart hurt for you and Roxy. Such love for pets in your home. What a sweet companion who just wants to be loved by humans and cats. I love the specific details that you included, it puts me right there with you and Roxy.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      We certainly do have a lot of pet love around here! Roxy is such a devoted companion, and I can’t imagine a better dog to be around so many cats. She has lived with about 20 different cats during her life, and she has adored them all! And most of them have tolerated her pretty well too.

  2. margaretsmn Avatar

    This is the sweetest post ever. My dog Charlie is 10 and I have to lift him onto my lap in the morning, too. Animals are special companions. I hope you have many more mornings with Roxy.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks, Margaret. I hope we have many more mornings too. And Charlie is lucky to have you there to lift him up each morning!

  3. Ramona Avatar

    Oh, this is so dear! Our animal friends are definitely part of the family. Hadley (our cat) wrote with me ever day during our last year to complete March slice of life together. She would plop into my lap before I could get my laptop open. And this was a cat that for years would not deign to grace you with her presence even when you begged her.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Isn’t it so interesting how their needs may change over time? I love that Hadley joined you for all your March slicing. Roxy and I have sliced together for years. I tried to appreciate every day of this past March, because I know it will be our last Slice challenge together.

  4. Adrienne Avatar

    You got me all teary-eyed. You write so matter-of-factly, but the bond you share shines through it all. This was my favorite line: “I used to nudge her aside and make her share the chair more equitably, but now I let her be.”

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’ve been trying to write a piece about her for ages and always get too sad to write it. So I decided to try super matter of fact and hope that the love and how much I will miss her would come through the details!

      1. karpenglish Avatar

        The love and incipient sadness definitely come through. It is a beautiful piece.

  5. arjeha Avatar

    This is a hard time for anyone who has a pet. Yes, we do anything for them to make them comfortable. Here’s hoping you still have many more mornings together.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thank you! It’s the hardest thing about having pets…. I’m glad Roxy still seems to be joyful and more or less comfortable.

  6. Amanda Potts Avatar

    What a poignant slice. I feel like I am there with you and Roxy, like I know your mornings and I can feel the love and the sadness at the impending change. Like Adrienne, I loved the line about now sharing the chair – made my heart catch a little. Give her an extra rub from me. (And maybe go ahead and give Chipotle one, too.)

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thanks, Amanda. I’ve been trying to write about Roxy forever but always make myself too sad! I was pleased to find a way to write around the sadness so that it’s still there but not debilitating–as in, crying too hard to type words! Interestingly, Chipotle is the only cat we’ve ever had who just does not warm up to Roxy. He sees all his siblings snuggling up to her and being just FINE, but he has decided that dogs are not for him.

  7. Trina Haase Avatar
    Trina Haase

    I’m such a sucker for stories about beloved dogs. What a sweet slice. Pets make such a difference, right?

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      They do! I don’t understand how anyone lives without pets. Lots and lots of pets, LOL.

  8. readingteachsu Avatar

    Dogs are the best friends in the whole world. Here’s to more mornings.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thank you! I hope we still have many mornings left!

  9. Melanie Meehan Avatar

    We SO set ourselves up when we choose to have a dog, as it’s hard to watch them get old–and they do… Love how you share the space and bring it to life for readers. She’s a lucky dog, and it sounds like she knows it.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      We really do. That’s the hard part of having pets. One of our cats is also quite elderly, so it’s probably going to be a difficult year of loss.

  10. jarhartz Avatar

    So sweet. My son’s dog is blind. Your slice brings them to my mind. The companionship and love is a two-way street.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It really is a two-way street! I have such compassion for Roxy’s special needs in her old age.

  11. Elizabeth Avatar

    Roxy is still a beauty!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      This photo was taken a year ago, and I realize she is SO much whiter now! She was just snuggling on the floor with Zorro this morning, though, so they are still very good friends!

  12. carwilc Avatar

    Roxy looks a lot like my eleven year old lab mix, Star. I have to help her onto the bed now too. I can’t imagine life without her!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      The angle of the photo kind of elongates Roxy’s otherwise very square pitty face so she does look very lab-like in it, I think. We’ve got a step for her to get onto the couch–that’s helped some of the wipe-outs for sure. It really is hard to imagine life without their constant companionship. My son wants to get another dog right away, but I don’t like puppies and it’s very hard for me to imagine any other dog who could handle 8 cats!!

  13. Tamara Jaimes Avatar
    Tamara Jaimes

    Back in March when I wrote about my elderly pup, Hermione, you commented that you wanted to write about Roxy, but couldn’t yet. I’m glad you did. What a beautiful post. I’m still drying my tears.

    The verbs you chose to describe Roxy’s movements—-rouses, blinking, curls, navigate, snores, grunts—paint such a vivid picture of her elderly struggles. And then the verbs change the tone at the end as you describe Roxy’s miraculous transformation back into a puppy as she anticipates the peanut-butter-filled Kong: wiggles, waggles, scampers. I’m always looking for ways to inspire my students to thoughtfully consider their verbs; I’d like to have your permission to use your post as a mentor text, if you don’t mind.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Of course! Thank you, what an honor! And I really have been trying to find a way to write about her since March–started and abandoned about 12 different pieces. Writing is a strange thing–all my other ways in didn’t work, but somehow just describing her getting into the chair in the morning was the way in.

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