We lost our black Lab to cancer a few weeks ago. Roxie was absolutely the most incredible, wonderful, RoxandEdsweetheart dog that has ever graced the planet. You may nominate other dogs for this honor but I have no doubt Roxie was number one! If there is a doggie heaven, I’m certain our girl is chewing on a squeaky toy while riding along with her head out the window on the way to a weekend at the lake.

We adopted Roxie as a year-old rescue back in 2005. We were told her original parents had a new baby who developed an allergy to dog dander. Their loss was certainly our gain. It was love at first lick when she bounded through the gate and galloped onto our deck to greet us.

After an hour of getting acquainted and showing our new pet around her new home, we left for dinner. Hindsight being 20-20, we should have never left our new family member by herself in a strange place the first day she arrived.

A brief electrical storm had just passed as we arrived back from dinner. When I opened the door, I could see a sizeable pile of white stuffing in the middle of the den. It seems Roxie suffered a meltdown when it began lightning and tried her best to hide in a sofa cushion. We later found Roxie hiding under the bed (We flipped the sofa cushion over and used it for several more years.)

Our love affair with Roxie grew stronger each day. She loved riding in the car, swimming in the lake, and best of all, taking long walks on trails. Walking Roxie on a trail was a challenging experience. She would do fine until there was a person or dog coming from the opposite direction. She would pull so hard, spreading her front legs wide for traction, trying desperately to make new friends and sniff new portals. Sometimes the fellow trail users would welcome her advances and sometimes they would shy away, but for Roxie, engaging people and dogs on the trail was a little bit of heaven.

In the summer months, we visited Murphey Candler Lake along the Nancy Creek Trail and the Lake at Panola Mountain where Roxie got to swim. We would wait until no one was around and I would slip her collar off and she would run full speed into the water. In cooler months we would walk the trail from Medlock Park to Mason Mill Park where greeting and sniffing were the favored activities.

Her first Thanksgiving Day with us was one of those cold, dreary days with a bitter north wind that cut right through you. The turkey had been in long enough to create that ‘Thanksgiving smell’ throughout the house. I took a break from food prep and sat down to watch a few minutes of football. Roxie would not leave me alone. She was pacing and whining, nudging my hand and giving me that look. I grabbed her leash and off to the trail we went.

Thanksgiving trail walks became a tradition at our house. Soon after I got the turkey in the oven and prepped the stuffing and sweet potatoes, Roxie would begin pacing and whining and often sit in front of the leash closet to remind me it was time. We braved cold temperatures, rain, and north winds to satisfy her need to pull me down the trail in search of new friends and smells. It became as much of a tradition as eating turkey when we returned from our walks.

This year I couldn’t decide what to do while the turkey was cooking. Part of me wanted to go for a walk on the trail in memory of my dog. The rest of me wanted to watch football and try not to think about my recently departed friend. The smell of turkey baking is not so good anymore. Next year, I am baking a ham. RIP Roxie. You were the best!