Rosie the Dog, who was known to friends in Los Angeles and Washington, DC, where she was born, died peacefully on Saturday afternoon. She was fourteen-ish. Readers of Chicken Corner knew her as the dog in profile at the top of the Baxter Steps. She was not a chicken, but she was one of the faces of Chicken Corner.
Rosie spent her first nine years in Washington with my mother. It was in Washington that Rosie developed her life-long passion for rushing into the houses of strangers if they left their front door open, and the gate of course. If a cat were present, Rosie would bark and give chase. This led to the awkward situation of calling to Rosie from the doorways of people we did not know (as well as many whom we did know). In Los Angeles, Rosie had fewer opportunities to explore houses. In the past year she did get into a yard in South Pasadena, and she tried to enter the home of a reclusive neighbor in Echo Park, whom I do not know by name. My mother used to speculate that Rosie may be looking for lost sheep, as she was a herder. She sometimes tried to herd my daughter, who finally lost it earlier this year and shouted, "Rosie, I am NOT a sheep!"
Before she lost most of her hearing, Rosie had a large vocabulary, as do many border collies (and border collie "mixes"). She had a large stuffed animal collection and would retrieve any of the toys by name, i.e., "Rosie, go get Elephant" (or "Beaver", etc.). And Rosie would say "Done." Then she'd go get Elephant. When Rosie moved to Los Angeles with me, we brought only four of her stuffed animals. She rebuilt her collection by re-homing some of the animals that until then had belonged to my baby daughter. By then she had already begun to lose her hearing, but she learned hand signals quite readily. She also learned that by turning her head to the side and pretending not to see me she could now ignore such suggestions as "Sit!"
Rosie loved Elysian Park and belly rubs. In the house, she followed me step for step, undaunted by the fact that I was always bumping into her and sometimes stepping on her toes. She was drawn to people who smoked Marlboros, as had my mother, Margot Burman, who was more or less killed by smoking Marlboros.
One time, I received a citation from an apologetic cop for walking Rosie without a leash. At court, I showed the City Attorney a photograph of Rosie. The attorney looked at the photo. Without even the tiniest smile, he said "That's a very cute dog, but you're the one who got the ticket." The injustice of the matter was clarified.
Rosie's own mother was a border collie. Her father is unknown. He may have been a golden retriever or maybe a cocker spaniel. Rosie's dog friends included Oscar the Dog and Baltau, both of Echo Park. She had dozens of human friends. Other survivors include her human family and three cats and loose herds of neighbors in two towns.