A Tribute to Roscoe the Traveling Dog
Almost everyone who met us in person during our years of traveling will remember Roscoe, our "Salt and Pepper" Schnauzer who made friends with everyone he met.
If you met Roscoe, you will understand why there are tears in my eye as I write this.
Roscoe came into our life in July of 2002. I was recovering from a closed head trauma injury and had been working from home for months. Phyllis needed something to bring some laughter into her life while she was caring for me. I could not even sit up for more than one hour unless my head was supported.
This little Schnauzer puppy called us from the back of the pet shop. He had a black "mask" that made him a natural to play the Lone Ranger in dog form. He went home with us.
Roscoe's main mission in life was to please Phyllis and I. When we were gone for even 5 minutes, he made it clear he was glad we were back.
Roscoe formed a special bond with our son Paul. He claimed Paul as "his boy" much like Mr. Peabody and Sherman from the old Rocky and Friends cartoons.
Roscoe playing tug with Phyllis using a long stick he found on the beach on Galveston Island in East Texas. Dec. 2002.
Our small dogs were Roscoe (dark Miniature Schnauzer) and Harpo (white Miniature Poodle, still with us) 2004.
Soon we had a second dog, a white miniature poodle named Harpo. She was purchased to give Roscoe canine companionship and to keep him active.
When it became apparent I would not really heal well enough to resume my work, Phyllis suggested we sell everything, and I would take early retirement, and we would become full time RVers. "If you stay until you planned to retire, it would kill you and I would be a widow with a pension. I would rather have you." We spent several months getting ready to hit the road, giving items away, selling others, and selling our house.
While preparing to go on the road, we stayed in a nearby campground. Roscoe found a friend by the name of Jake. Jake was a black 120 lb Giant Schnauzer that had no idea he was a big dog. Roscoe had no idea he was a small dog The played and talked constantly. They sounded the same, but Jake was 3 octaves deeper. They would run and thump chests. Roscoe was always surprised that he went flying instead of Jake. Basic physics was not Roscoe's strong point. They both had loads of fun.
The Traveling Morgans used dog seats and a harness hooked to a seat belt. Roscoe and Harpo rode in the extended cab (2005).
We ended up working our way around the country at low paying -- and low stress -- jobs. Thus our little Schnauzer became "Roscoe the Traveling Dog".
Roscoe and Harpo with Phyllis and our friend Carolyn Walters and her dog Lucy at Aranasas National Wildlife Refuge, TX in 2005. You can see Roscoe's "protect" posture.
Roscoe traveled, with Harpo and Phyllis and myself, all around the 48 contiguous states. He was with us from Florida to Maine to Michigan and California and most of the states in between. He walked the beaches of the Atlantic and Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico and the fresh water ocean called Lake Superior. He walked trails in the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains as well as the Black Hills and Sierra Nevada mountains. Any National Parks that allowed dogs had Roscoe's paws on the paths and his "P-Mail" on the trees. National Forests and National Monuments and Bureau of Land Management areas also had Roscoe visitation.
Roscoe loved playing outdoors and "off leash". He was always on a "verbal leash" and would stop on command, even if he had started after a rabbit or squirrel.
Roscoe with Harpo and Phyllis in the Grand Teton Mountains. Mt. Moran is in the background. WY 2005.
Roscoe and Harpo with Phyllis and Larry in Grand Teton National Park, WY 2005. Click any picture for a larger version.
Roscoe assumed the role of protector of the pack. I saw him go for the throat of a dog many times his size when he thought Harpo was threatened. He had a "serious bark" that did not come out often, but when it did, it would freeze your blood. I remember the last time I heard it. He was in our pickup just behind my ear. He saw a bison close to the truck and thought it was threatening (it wasn't). I pealed my scalp off the ceiling as the bison walked slowly away.
Roscoe was quite strong for a small dog. Once, before he had been trained to stop on command, a rabbit ran out in front of him while he was on a leash. It took my shoulder years to recover. We joked that if the engine of our truck failed, Roscoe could pull our rig.
Roscoe had a "show dog" walk. We referred to it as "prancing paws" or "happy feet". Just his walk attracted new friends. They would come over to meet him. Whenever he met people, Roscoe made a friend. When someone came over to us and ignored him, he would talk to them, and thus made friends with people who did not normally like dogs. Until recently, he played with any dogs that would play with him, including puppies.
Roscoe was absolutely fearless when confronting other animals, such as the 100 pound dog he thought was threatening Harpo, but his real mission was one of love.
Roscoe and Harpo with Phyllis on a covered bridge near Gorham NH 2008.
Roscoe was not cheap. He had two surgeries for urinary stones and would have had a third, but his age made the stress such a surgery inadvisable. We took other measures and they worked. We sometimes said we should have spelled his name Ro$coe.
After over 12 years of a great life, Roscoe began slowly to fail. His hearing was the first to go and he could no longer be allowed off leash, even when the location permitted it. Our veterinarian found a liver/gall bladder issue and corrected it with medication. This gave us another year where Roscoe had a reasonably good quality of life. Then the great muscles in his hind legs began to fail and he had more and more trouble getting into our trailer and up on the bed and couch. Then he had trouble getting down and had to be lifted. He began losing control of his bladder, where before he would have split a gut before soiling or messing his home on wheels. We took gentle care of him, remembering the dog he had been and all of the love he had given us. Occasionally we would see the old Roscoe personality come through and we could see at that moment he was still enjoying life. These moments came less and less often.
Roscoe on 1840's Wagon Road at Connor Pass CA -- used by many of the 49ers in the California Gold Rush. 2011.
Roscoe, Harpo and Phyllis at Bridgeport Covered Bridge in South Yuba River State Park in CA 2011.
On May 9 of 2016 Roscoe sat on Phyllis' lap and stared into her eyes for several minutes. He never did this. He played with Harpo and myself more than he had in weeks. With hindsight we think he was saying goodbye. Around 10:45 PM, he had a seizure or stroke. He was in great pain and had no control at all. We found an all-night vet clinic about 30 miles away and took him there. In the clinic he had another seizure type episode and we knew it was time. He was about two weeks short of his Fourteenth birthday.
We still have Harpo who is now 13. We will not "replace" Roscoe. At our age, and with the health issues that forced us to stop traveling, a puppy is more than we can handle, and another dog is not really affordable.
We will forever treasure our travels around the USA with Roscoe the Traveling Dog. He was the best and truest friend I ever had (except for Phyllis).
Roscoe with Paul at Padre Island National Seashore (2010).
Roscoe and Harpo Beach Romp (2010).