Remembering Joan Through Her Dogs Roscoe and Pucky on Her Birthday
We thought this year , to remember Joan, on her birthday and first day of summer, June 21, we’d pay tribute to her through her dogs, while remembering them, too, as they were part and parcel of Joan
Sister Joan had the BEST DOGS of anyone. For years I wondered how she found such great dogs- and not just Pucky and Roscoe, her last ones. It began with Aretha and there were Saphire, Mahlia and others in between – they all had SOUL and Joan’s imprint all over them.
It finally dawned on me years later, that pets are, in part, a product of their guardians. And, Joan , helped them become what they were with her kind, generous, doting ways. I remember when Joan first acquired Pucky – who we later learned was an actual FOX-Chihuahua mix(!) – Pucky was all over the place, much like the ‘wild’ animal part of her. But, over the years, Pucky became the sweetest dog. Roscoe was always sweet and I called him a little lamb, or ‘Wonder Dog’ as we was so calm and gentle, seemingly heaven sent; he was like a Buddha and I often wondered if he had a physical spine be was so malleable.
Joan walked Roscoe and Pucky everyday, usually once in the morning and once at night and I got to enjoy those outings with them on many occasions. I never saw dogs get so excited when we announced they would be going for a ‘walk, ‘ or ‘wonder walk.’ Sometimes we had to spell the word lest get them TOO excited when we weren’t quite ready to go. We had such fun walking the beautiful neighborhoods of Berkeley and Oakland, then coming home to Joan’s house to visit. When Joan was diagnosed with C we would spend evenings on the floor listening to meditation tapes and trying to will away the evil ‘C.’ And, we never lost hope that it would leave Joan’s body – and that’s what kept Joan going, I believe – her indomitable spirit. Unlike myself, Joan didn’t seem to let things bother her too much, and was convinced that everything was going to be better- so much so that she had me convinced for awhile.
When Joan would later get very sick and couldn’t walk them anymore, I filled in as best I could to carry on the tradition. I had promised Joan that I would care for Pucky and Roscoe if anything ever happened to her. When Joan did pass I got a call from her caregiver that our parents were taking Roscoe and and Pucky to the pound, not wanting to ‘burden’ me with them (which was about as far from the truth – burden??? ). Thank God, I ran over just in time to ‘rescue’ Pucky and Roscoe and take them back home with me, against our parents’ wishes.
The three years with Roscoe and four with Pucky that followed – both dogs lived to 18 – were among the best years of my life. I have so many great memories of both Roscoe and Pucky… running down the streets of Lafayette together (we had no sidewalks) and hiking through fields of thick brush when they were still able to get around – and other crazy things I perhaps shouldn’t have done, looking back, but have no regrets as I think we all enjoyed it, although did put ourselves at some risk.
When Roscoe wasn’t able to walk much anymore, he was content staying much of the time in the large bathroom in my house, where there were beds, water and food. (See below Holiday photo) Pucky and I would venture out to the ball field, where Pucky would run perfect ‘figure eights.’ I have no idea where this came from -maybe the fox in her. I should have probably taken videos but knew it might be too upsetting to look back years later. I still have the good memories plus regular photos of her. We met a lot of friends at the ball field, until one day we were told to stop coming to the field, as if this seven pound dog was doing any damage to it.
Roscoe (left) and Pucky in the large back bathroom. Will always treasure this photo and last Christmas together.Of course, that’s Joan’s great drawing of Rosco in background
During this time, my mother had become very ill and had a bone marrow transplant. It was with great concern and angst that I travelled to Houston and MD Anderson Hospital seven times in 2000-2001 to visit Mom, leaving the dogs in the hands of a caretaker who came by twice a day. Roscoe was starting to have a tough time, but I had no other choice; I needed to be there for mom; I just prayed that everything thing would be ok. And, we got through that episode. Eventually, we lost mom but I carried on with the love of Roscoe and Pucky and Joan, which came via the dogs; Joan was omni-present , through the dogs and 16 years later I still feel Joan’s presence.
I became very worried about Roscoe. He was having seizures where he would rotate in circles for long periods of time. I didn’t see how he would survive them, but , he did. Then one day, somehow, he broke through the fence in the back yard, and ended up, somehow in the creek , far below by house. To this day, I have no idea exactly how he got that far, but I always considered it a blessing. Roscoe was in bad shape and if he had to go, that was the way, in the water. At first I couldn’t even find him – and didn’t even think to look that far – but there he was , and since the animal control was closed on that sunday, I had to venture down through the worst brush imaginable to bring up Roscoe’s body. I managed to get a tick on the way, but , somehow , was able to carry him all the way back up the hill. That was April 10, 2010, just after my birthday.
The next year it was just me and Pucky and Pucky was starting to show signs of slippage , at age 17. My regular vet was all ready to give up on Pucky’s kidney failure but, casually, happened to mention Encina Vet, which does doggie dialysis, so to speak, since my regular vet was going to out of town for a few days. Without going to any major ‘life saving’ events, Pucky was able to hang on and have another year of quality life, during which we had numerous trips and adventures together and Encina has been a Godsend for us and our animals ever since. We’ll save that story and the last year with Pucky for , perhaps, later in the year. It was with great sadness when we ‘put down’ Pucky Oct 4, 2002, just weeks before we lost brother Don (who , by the way, until his dying day would ask about Pucky, as they fought life’s battle together.’ We’ll have more on that for another time , too.
Serious illness can be a terrible thing, but, somehow, we managed to turn the tables and make the best out of a bad situation.(It’s easy for me to say, I’m still here_ Our last years together with Joan, Pucky, Roscoe – and, Don, at his home- were perhaps our best years together. Having a common goal, for Joan and Don, Pucky and Roscoe to beat their illnesses brought us closer together. Past previous familial petty issues floated away and I can say that we actually had some wonderful times together one wouldn’t normally expect under such circumstances. Same with Dad in his last years -and Mom, too.
Hard to believe it’s been 16 years now since Joan’s earthly departure. I can still visualize Joan, Pucky and Roscoe as it was yesterday and try to hang on to those images – and memories- trying to live life for all of us. What would Joan think of this? What would Joan do in my place? And, so forth. I’ve passed on many of Roscoe and Pucky stories and tips to other pet lovers and always enjoy sharing these stories and memories .Just putting this page together has been very cathartic and, thanks for sharing with us as we think of Joan along with her ‘happy hounds’ Roscoe and Pucky. If I can gather enough memories and, perhaps any pictures, would love to share more on Joan’s other dogs, too, as Joan lived through them.
Happy Day Joan, wherever you are. Miss you but will always appreciate the wonderful years you DID give us/me and your doggies, who were a part of you.
The Amazing Pucky, going on 18 years of age, lower right, still hangin’ in at Pleasant Hill Dog Park , 2002. I just came across this photo yesterday, going through old boxes as I try to ‘clean up.’ I expect to find more and look forward. I can actually remember when we came to this park and the larger almost ‘look alike’dog with Pucky