RENO — Telling tales about pets that have died can be cathartic to owners who love their animals just as much as they love the people in their lives.
In the case of one local resident, telling such tales not only have helped her cope with the loss but will help some homeless animals in the community.
Rosalie Pope has written a book titled, “Puppies for Sale $25.00 — A collection of the best dog stories ever.” She penned the book in the wake of the death of her dog Xena, a field spaniel whose acquisition inspired the book’s title, but the book contains stories about seven dogs that have come and gone in Roe’s life. Available for purchase through various book sellers, a portion of the proceeds from each copy sold will go to the Nevada Humane Society.
“This is what she’s doing for me now,” Pope said about Xena, who had to be put to sleep when she developed cancer at age 12, “making me relive her life and all the dogs I ever had and all the joy she ever gave me.”
An on-site manager for an apartment complex, Pope never expected to write a book about anything. But her need to purge her emotions kept the pen in her hand.
“It made me so happy to write these stories,” she said.
It took her about six weeks to write, and after a rewrite, the book was finished in May. Pope self-published the book, which was released in July. No one took her effort seriously as she was writing, Pope said, and now that it is complete she knows there will be some people who will like it and some who will not. Either way, she said, “I just want it out there.”
Pope chose Xena when the dog was about six weeks old. In the process of looking to mate another dog, Pope and her husband, Bill, came across a woman selling puppies out of a pickup truck. As Pope recalled, the woman looked like Cruella de Vil from the Disney movie “101 Dalmations.”
“We were afraid if we didn’t buy one, she’d make a coat out of them,” Pope joked.
When they looked at the dogs she was selling, Xena came up to Pope and immediately created a lifelong bond.
Upon taking their new dog home, the Popes needed to choose a name. They introduced the new dog to their nikita, Sumo, who immediately started gnawing on the new pet. Then Xena broke free and started fighting back, earning her new name as a canine warrior princess.
That was more than 12 years ago, during which time Pope and Xena shared many memorable moments, including this one as recounted in “Puppies for Sale”:
“Xena was very energized and was in hunting form. Her pointed nose was stuck on the couch; her stance was that of a dog that was ready for the kill. Her tail stood straight on end with every bit of her long fur, feathered out from the rise. We could not figure out what she was looking for and as far as the boys knew, the bird went out the door. I searched and searched the couch and found nothing and heard nothing. I had to go back to work and the boys were also leaving to play outside. I phoned Bill and told him what was going on. He said he would look when he got home.
“A couple hours passed. I entered our home and when I came out of my kitchen and saw the incredible destruction of my once beautiful blue couch, I stood there in disbelief. Xena had chewed every part of the reclining part of the chair as well as the whole back of the couch. Foam and fabric were strewn all over the living room. I did not call Bill.
“I figured I would let him too experience the surprise. Xena was still steadfast in her attempt to find whatever she was looking for. It appeared she was unsuccessful at this point in retrieving her hunt. She spotted me staring at her and quickly came over for a brief hello. She then swiftly went back to her post and continued the frantic behavior looking at me as if she wanted me to see something in the couch.”
Though she has had pets all her life, Xena was “the cream of the crop,” Pope said.
“Xena was kind of human to me,” she said.
This bond made writing the book easy, even though it came in the wake of the difficult decision to put Xena to sleep. Pope said she could tell something was wrong when Xena started falling behind during their runs. Then, one day, when Pope reached their normal finish line, she turned around and saw Xena just sitting there, panting.
“My heart just dropped,” Pope recalled.
A trip to the veterinarian showed that Xena had cancer on her spleen. Pope had to keep the dog calm so the tumor wouldn’t burst. Though Xena often looked and acted normally, when she got really bad at night Pope decided it was time to put her “sidekick,” her “buddy,” her “friend,” out of her misery.
Pope shares many stories of her relationship with Xena in “Puppies For Sale,” and she has enjoyed the experience so much she is working on another book. “The Pit and the Pug” is about the relationship between her daughter’s 6-year-old pug Joe Joe, and their 2-year-old pit bull Marley. The story is about not discounting people or pets, Pope said.
“Puppies For Sale” can be purchased from the Author House Publishing website at authorhouse.com, as well as from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other digital retailers.