Thursday, March 26, 2009

Remembering Rosie

March 4, 1995 - March 13, 2009
For years I facilitated a humane education program that centered on well-constructed lesson plans chock full of fun, enriching activities, but no live animals. In 1999 I decided to revamp the program to include dogs, IF I could find the right dogs. That's when I met Rosie and her person Stacey. Rosie was one of those dogs that made you smile. She didn't do tricks or dress up in clothing, but when she walked into a classroom there was magic. Rosie was a leaner. She pressed her whole body against you. Kids ended up with Rosie fur all over their pants! And, they loved it.
Several years ago Rosie was unable to visit her 5th grade class at Ross Elementary School. At the very time of the scheduled visit, Rosie was undergoing surgery; a tumor was removed from her front left leg. I talked to the students about the surgery; the worry that filled the classroom was thick. Our positive thoughts paid off -- not only did Rosie make a full and speedy recovery, but she had an unusual patch of fur on her leg to commemorate the event. The veterinarian had taken fur from another spot on Rosie's body and grafted it over the area where the growth had been. The result was a funny patch of hair that grew against the rest of Rosie's fur creating a strange pattern and an opportunity for Stacey to remind students why it is so important to regularly take your dog to the veterinarian. Rosie was always the teacher.
In addition to visiting students and stressing the importance of proper animal care, Rosie volunteered to listen to children read books at Prospect Learning Center. She enjoyed the stories, but liked the students' gentle pats the best. Sometimes it was hard for a student to read AND pet Rosie at the same time, so the reader would put the book aside and pat Rosie.
Later, Rosie visited Tubman Elementary School. Fourth graders were engaged in a photo project and Rosie happily posed with her ball, demonstrating a fun activity that kids could play with dogs. She even managed to get her left leg front and center in most of the photos.
The trouble with sharing your life with a companion animal is, that you know, in all likelihood, you will outlive your friend by many, many years. Over time, we can have had numerous animals in our lives and each one is special. Photos, memories and tributes keep our animals with us. Stacey shared one of her tributes to Rosie with me, and I am happy to share it with you.

Rosie (a.k.a. Rosie the Riveter, Rosie-pie, Ambassador of Love) was born in the Tompkins County Animal Shelter in Ithaca, New York. When she and her five siblings were four days old, they came home with their mother to receive foster care. Rosie stayed for good.

She was an avid hiker, tennis ball catcher and swimmer, and for several years she was a blood donor for dogs in need. Her truest passion, though, was meeting new people and spending quality time with her trusted human friends. Her daily walks were constantly punctuated by people greeting her and commenting on her friendliness and beauty.

Rosie’s gift for spreading happiness found a most useful outlet in the Washington Humane Society’s Humane Education Program. During her six years as a volunteer, Rosie visited with hundreds of students in D.C.’s public schools, helping them to understand how dogs think and feel, and the responsibility people have to help dogs live healthy, happy, fulfilling lives.

Rosie will be missed, by many, beyond words. Take a lesson from her approach to life: revel in its joys, forgive its shortcomings, and leave it with no regrets.

1 comment:

  1. Debbie, thanks for these wonderful remembrances of Rosie's time as a volunteer! She absolutely loved working with you and the school kids she met over the years; it was always an exciting event for her when we visited a class, and she really loved the kids in the reading program too. I'd forgotten about the photo project -- this photo is wonderful! And this whole blog is terrific -- congratulations on an excellent resource.

    Thanks so much for posting this and giving Rosie one last chance to be an educator. all the best -- Stacey Young