This cute little ball of mischief has been gone from my day-to-day life for more than two years now. Oddly enough, she still appears at night.

I’ve been having dreams of Roxie off and on. Actually, “dreams” would be great, because what I’m experiencing is mostly nightmares. Usually it involves some awful circumstance in which she gets hurt and I am standing there watching it happen, unable to move or scream. Sometimes I actually wake up with a start, completely terrified. At first I told myself that I was still grieving in some ways and moved on with my day without thinking about it at all, but the last couple of dreams have troubled me very much. I decided it was time to do a little research on why she’s been haunting me.

For those of you who are new here, Roxie–our nearly-twelve-year-old beagle–was completely fine one day and then after twelve days of constant, around-the-clock care-taking and medical consultations and tests and other random craziness as her health declined like a boulder rolling down a mountain, we had to put her down. If you want to be sad and read my goodbye post to her, you can click here. Otherwise, rest assured it was horrible and unexpected and I miss her terribly.

I searched online for answers, and the general consensus of most dream analysis sites indicates that I should be trying to figure out exactly what it was that Roxie gave me that I am now specifically missing in my life (besides her). It didn’t take me long at all to figure that out.

Roxie, although she was famous for being extremely stingy with affection (except when it came to Jim, her favorite human), was my constant companion. I worked from home for the last several years of her life and interacted with her from morning until night. As annoying as she was (my friends, readers, and reader-friends are very familiar with her blood-curdling howl, her tendency to cause trouble around the house, and her enjoyment of staring holes through me until I finally stopped working long enough to take her for a good walk), she was hilarious and fun, and a great listener: I spoke to her all day long.

These days, my life is totally different from the way it was back then when she was alive. I’m not currently working. We live in a different state from our grown sons. Jim travels a fair amount for work.

While I definitely enjoy my time alone thoroughly when Jim is gone, the days can seem endless and lonely. Often I have no verbal contact with anybody (my friends are busy, yo!) all day except for my buddies at the boxing gym and Jim, when he calls in the evening. The fact is, I’m mostly an extrovert who thrives on regular interaction with others. Roxie filled that hole for me most of the time.

So, what to do about these dreams? The answer is NOT “get another dog”. While I love dogs so very much, Jim and I actually made an agreement on the day we brought Roxie home back in 2004 that she would be our last dog. We looked ahead to the time when the boys were out of the house and on their own and decided that we’d want to travel and do our best to live in a carefree way as much as possible. Lucky for us, that’s all happening according to plan and I’m not willing to give that up to bring another dog into the house. For now I’ll get my puppy fix through the pets of my friends (and hopefully someday one or both of my sons will have a dog!).

I still feel strongly that I need to do something having to do with dogs, to honor Roxie and try to fill the hole she left in a different way. This week I decided to make contact with one of the local animal shelters here in Knoxville. I looked at their wish list and picked up an assortment of items to donate, so they can better provide care to the dogs they’re trying to place in forever homes. I’ll be doing this every four to six weeks.

In truth this reminds me a little bit of that episode of “Friends” in which Phoebe told Joey that she believes charity work is selfishness disguised as a good deed. While I know that I will be helping lots of canines with my donations, I’m also hoping this act will give me better dreams of Roxie. Regardless, I’m taking action and it feels nice.

Do me a favor? If you have a pet, give it a little extra squeeze today, for me.