Enlightened Leadership Blog | Turn the Page | September 2021

Roxy is a ten-pound brown and white Irish Jack Russell Terrier with endless love to give. She used to have boundless energy too, but she mellowed in her old age. During the past 18 years, Roxy’s life filled many chapters and colorful pages. She kept turning the pages in her story, our story. 

Tuesday was typical. Roxy sauntered around slowly like normal these days. She ate steak, drank fresh, cold water, walked outside sniffing every blade of grass, napped on her favorite blankets, worked with me, like a happy day in the life of Roxy. That evening, we were cuddling on the sofa watching the Yankees game. Suddenly, life changed in seconds. 

Navigating Unknown

Our Roxy is the master of resilience. She barely slept that night, as if she thought she could push through this setback. But her eyebrows and blinking brown eyes expressed concern about departing from her pack. That was a restless night filled with doubt, asking what do we do? Is she suffering? Does she know what’s happening? The answers were don’t know, no, and yes. 

18 years of nonfiction movie footage played in my mind. All happy thoughts. I smiled through tears, thinking about how I grew up with dogs all my life, but Roxy was extra special. From the moment she leapt into my lap in Jack Russell fashion on day one, looking at me with make me yours eyes, she navigated a huge chunk of life with me. That’s quite the bonding experience. 

Savoring Moments

Roxy knew everything a dog could know about me from almost two decades of glances, sniffs, habits, and schedules. Every morning we kicked off the day with my early morning coffee in silence. Just Roxy, me, and a cup of hot, black coffee. Every night, she cuddled in my arms. In exchange, I knew her moods, desires, and routines. However, I struggled to know what she wanted this day. I asked her, “What are you telling me? What do you want me to do?” Our eyes locked and I felt her say I’m savoring every second at home. I want our pack together when I leave.

During these mentally exhausting 16 hours, I focused on feeling grateful for our joyful journey together. For the last 18 months she had her family close by. Last year, she became my little writing muse. She loved when I worked because it meant lap time and pets for her. This time, we laid side by side on the floor as I typed this story. She didn’t want to leave. We didn’t want her to either. Sadly, we knew her physical body needed to move on. 

Learning lessons

As I caressed shiny healthy hair on a tired little body, I realized this amazing dog taught our family valuable life skills that became part of our character. Part of us today. Part of us forever. I share enlightenment learned from a bright dog who worked relentlessly to bring joy even in a time of sorrow:

  1. Find joy 
  2. Be brave
  3. Love unconditionally 
  4. Master resilience
  5. Receive gratefully 
  6. Protect your pack 
  7. Read body language 
  8. Stay young 
  9. Take your time 
  10. Age gracefully
  11. Celebrate little things 
  12. Accept changes  
  13. Enjoy moments 

Finding Joy

On this sad blur of a day, we enjoyed our last words, moments, kisses, touches, and breaths together as hours became minutes, then seconds. Eventually, time felt like it stood still. 

Roxy is forever part of our family. She taught us priceless lessons that made us better humans. Animals have that beauty to offer. Celebrate your pets and the everlasting wisdom they teach. 

by Jennifer L. Musser