It's her birthday tomorrow. She's going to be nine years old, which, given that she's a Border Collie, makes her a middle aged woman. If you believe the seven dog years for every one human year then she's a pensioner at 63!
Rosie is black, well at least to most people she's as black as the night. Her fur is so black it's almost blue if you know what I mean. She's only got the tiniest "shepherd's lantern" (the white tip of her tail). Her snout is greying and a friend once described her as looking as though she's just tip-toed through a puddle of milk. That's because she's got a pair of cute front legs that look splashed with milk and her back legs, although resolutely black, have the tiniest little blobs of milk on her toes. The roof of her mouth is also black - apparently this is a Border Collie breed standard - if their mouth doesn't have a black roof then the dog's not a "proper" Border Collie.
Her entire life is devoted to me. She would happily be joined at the hip with me but if I'm not showing any sign of receptiveness to her charms, then she'll certainly take her comfort elsewhere and is something of a tart, flinging herself at anyone who'll show an interest in her. At this moment, she's tucked up in a ball on the floor of my office by my feet. If I display any sign whatsoever of moving away from my desk, she'll leap to her feet and anticipate some thrilling trip down to the kitchen or better still, into the garden. Rosie doesn't mind where, as long as we're on the move and she's with me.
When I get up in the night to go to the bathroom, Rosie greets me outside the bedroom door, where she's managed to get herself from wherever she's been sleeping to "full parade" in the space of the few moments that it takes me to throw back the duvet, climb out of bed and negotiate the complete darkness to get around the bed and out of the door. Our pitch-dark environment means you can't see her, but you can feel her breath on your legs as you pass her by. I ALWAYS bend down and give her head a scratch on the way past. Some nights, she'll follow me into the bathroom and then stare at me with a quizzical look on her face while I do what I need to do.
In the morning, she eagerly awaits the moment when she can come into the bedroom, circumnavigate the bed, leap onto me and spend a few minutes trying to insert her tongue into one or both of my nostrils. That's when she gets called the less-flattering things in the list at the top of this posting! Then we play "the biting game" and I see a side of Rosie that very few other people see - her white side. You see, when she's upside-down she looks completely white, despite my earlier assertions that she's almost entirely black. She rolls onto her back, then tries to put my hand where she wants her fuss by taking it in her teeth and putting it onto her body where she wants to be tickled. She knows what she wants alright.
Her "best ever" game is "tennis ball" - she'd rather have a manky, chewed, soft tennis ball than any posh dog toy. You know she's managed to root one out when you hear THUD, thud, thud, thud. This is the sound of the ball being tossed towards your feet - the first insistant thud then the lesser thuds as the ball loses its initial momentum. I have NEVER known Rosie to be tired of the tennis ball game before her opponant.
She's my "Battersea Babe", coming into my open arms as a ten-week-old puppy, already having had the sad lot of being taken away from her Mum too early and being rejected by another family. I have loved her ever since the moment I whispered "Rosie" over her head as she sat on my knee in the waiting room to see the Battersea Dogs Home vet before we went home. She turned her head and looked at me and my heart was lost forever.
Although we don't celebrate Rosie's birthday - how can you celebrate the birthday of one baby when you have another who you not only don't know his birthdate, you don't even know his age? I expect we'll probably still spend a few moments thanking the day when I walked through the doors of Battersea and walked out again with her under my arm.
So, I salute Ali Taylor (the collie specialist at Battersea) and all of the rest of the team there for their wonderful gift to me. OK - I may have paid a small sum of money to take her away but nonetheless I still regard her as a gift. She may be 63 in dog years but she'll be my baby girl forever. Battersea Dogs Home gave me the gift of a little critter who loves me more than anything else on the planet - how can you EVER top that?