Before the Insanity, Part Zwei

I can’t honestly call myself a dog blogger unless I talk about the most dog-like dog I have ever known. I have mentioned him before, usually in reference to his enormous size. The last I heard, he weighed over one hundred forty pounds. That is a lot of dog.

 Readers, prepare yourselves for the monstrosity that is the Roach-man.

 Roach actually belongs to my brother-in-law. Before we moved to the East Coast, that was with whom we lived. It was a small house for three people and a cat, and when the Roachster joined the family it felt a lot smaller. But I am getting way ahead of things.

 One day in 2007 the BIL returned home and told us we had to go to the shelter right away to approve his new puppy. The news came as a bit of a surprise but gamely we headed down to the Calgary Humane Society to meet this potential family member. (As an aside, the facilities there are incredible. The CHS could serve as a model for all other shelters in the world to follow. I encourage you to check them out if you are ever in the city.) The shelter policy is that every household member must meet each adoptee before the adopt-er can  bring him home. A pretty smart philosophy to be sure.

 A staff member brought us over to the room where the puppy lived. Each dog had his own space, usually a small room with a glass door. On the door they taped a brief biography of the dog along with the kind of home that would be right for him. I will never forget the sign posted on Roach’s door. In big bold letters read, “WILL GET BIG”.  

 At the time it was hard to conceive. Just three months old, he was an adorable little puppy with floppy ears and clumsy paws. He barely came up to my knees. They must mean big by small-dog people standards, I remember thinking. He was part shepherd, not part Great Dane. Six months later we all discovered the latter breed may have been part of his genetics after all.

 I think it is a big testament to my BIL’s character that he chose Roach out of all the other wonderful dogs available in the facility. Roach was the only one not house-trained, the only one not already neutered, and the only one dealing with mange. The dog was a little bit of an outcast. Due to his health problems, his wild behaviour, and his appearance, not to mention the sign on the door, my BIL may have been his only chance at finding a real home. He certainly would not have been my choice at the time.

 This brings me to my largest regret regarding the behemoth. At the time I wasn’t sure a dog was a good idea. Since all three of use worked outside of the home and enjoyed our freedom to come and go as we pleased, I didn’t think that lifestyle would be good for a puppy. A dog needs human presence and interaction. A dog needs exercise. Most of all, a dog needs training, especially one that still urinated inside. There was also the cat to deal with. How would he feel about a puppy getting in his space? I just wasn’t feeling it. This was completely unfair, of course, to the new dog. My opinions had nothing to do with him and since I lived there I should have put them aside and helped him out. Unfortunately, I didn’t. While I eventually grew to love him and I would spend time playing with him on the kitchen floor, after one or two crazy walks, I gave up on any form of training. It bothers me to this day.

 On the other hand, I like to credit Roach for influencing my relationship with Shiva. If I hadn’t been missing the lunk-head, I may not have decided to adopt her. If I hadn’t seen first-hand what kind of loving animal could come from a shelter, I may not have even thought of checking out the SPCA at all. If Roach’s behaviour problems hadn’t inspired me to do some research into dog training, I may not have stuck it out when I had problems with my own dog two years later. If I didn’t feel so bad about the way I ignored Roach’s needs, I may not have been so attentive to Shiva’s.

 From what I hear Roach is doing well. He still loves to eat and he still loves to take over the entire couch. He plays very nicely with the children next door. I imagine now that he is over three years old, he is a lot calmer to be around and a great companion for my BIL. One day I hope to see him again, pet those super-soft ears. My favourite memories of that dog are when he would sprawl out on the kitchen floor at my feet while I brewed tea in the evening. I would slowly rub his belly with a foot and he would act like there was nowhere in the world he would rather be. I never thought the day would come, but I really miss that lug. Maybe I’ll tuck a little something extra in his Christmas present this year.

30 thoughts on “Before the Insanity, Part Zwei

  1. That dog looks awesome! I have always wondered what it would be like to have a huge dog like that. I’m sure one day I’ll find out. But I have to say – his name? Ew!

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  2. Heehee, you can tell he was going to grow up to be a big boy – just look at those feet!

    It may be the pictures, but he doesn’t seem *that* huge. Maybe I need a dwarfed person next to him to get the full effect.

    I love training with big dogs – no bending!

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    • I know, I wish I had some photos like that to share. For some reason I only have a very small quantity. Back then I never thought of taking many pictures. Which sucks. I needed a blog to remind me!

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  3. Sounds to me like you did learn a lot from Roach, though you say you weren’t engaged with him regularly when you lived there. I can’t imagine having a dog that big – but then, who would have thought THAT big? Lovely dog, good for the BIL. Good for you – Shiva was blessed cause of Roach :).

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  5. Roach seems like a very neat dog. I like big dogs even though I don’t want to own one. We all have had pets that teach us to be better. My poor first cat, no wonder he ran away. But I learned and now I am a crazy cat lady with an Aussie to boot!
    ~Sandy

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    • The thought of the two of them getting together makes me laugh out loud. I can just imagine the destruction. Is the world ready for such a day?

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  6. Awwww…I luved learning abouts Roach. I actually think you were smart to think about all those things when your BIL was wanting to adopt a doggie. Lots of people don’t even think abouts those things and those are impawtant things to think about. And you know what’s also great? That you learned from Roach and Shiva is benefitting from what you learned!

    Thank you for introducing us to him. I hopes we get to see more pictures of him someday soon!

    Wiggles & Wags,
    Mayzie

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  7. That must have been quite the shock for that tiny puppy to keep growing and growing. I do love big dogs.

    P.S. Thanks for the dress comment. As you can tell, we’re not big wedding people, but I ended up getting the dress at JCrew. The best part was, I was able to take advantage of their 30% holiday sale, which made it all even better!

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  8. What a cool dog! I love the first picture he looks like he is all knuckles and those huge paws!! Love it. Isn’t it cool how you can look back and know where it all started? I bet Shiva is very grateful for Roach.

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  9. I love big dogs.
    Their size might be big but their heart is always soft and gentle; they might look scary to others but they actually have the sweetest smile when you look at them closely.

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  10. Great story. I too can related to an experience where I don’t feel I did as well by an earlier dog in my life and want to make it up now.

    But we’re all learning every day. I’m so glad for the dogs in my life that have forgiven me for not being perfect and allowed me to learn and do better every day.

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    • It’s so true. Shiva is a very hardy, very forgiving dog. Back when we were still figuring it all out we could have ruined her for good. Aamazingly, she seems completely unaffected. I am sure our future dogs will be most grateful to her resilience.

      It’s good to know I am not alone in feeling this way.

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  11. Roach is much calmer now – reasonably well behaved – but when you have a pooch that large – he makes an impact. I am sure if we had Roach and Shiva together they would become best buddies –

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  12. B and I always joke that it would be nice if our wonderdogs had a little button between their shoulderblades that could adjust their size based on the situation. For an out-of-town trip, I would shrink them down to pocket-sized so they could fly with me. For a walk through a tough neighborhood, I would inflate them to be giant 100-pounders. For some reason, Roach made me think of that.
    Thanks for the introduction– he is lovely.

    Aleksandra
    follow our foster: loveandaleash.wordpress.com

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    • That would be nice, I agree. With all our modern technology these days you’d think they could come up with something.

      Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you enjoyed!

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  13. that’s a great story!

    i love big dogs. rufus used to be about 70kgs. now that he’s old and sickly and on a special diet, he’s down to 54kg. to be honest, when i see really tiny teacup dogs, i have no idea what to do with them. they seem so fragile. i like dogs i can wrestle and lean on without squashing them!

    have a great weekend xox

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  15. Ohh he looks like a Beautiful Dog… I totally understand when you say that he stayed sprawled at your feet like that would be the only place in the world where he’d rather be…Pluto does that often…and the act makes me feel like I’d rather be here than anywhere else too…. 😀

    We hope you get to see him soon and share some more photos and anecdotes about Roach, some time soon in the future. Coz, we would love to see him again.

    Love n Pawshakes
    Mumma n Pluto

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