Skip to main content

Our sweet Damselle: She knew them all

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, Damselle probably wouldn’t want me to write this column.

You see, she was the sweetest, happiest, friendliest, easygoing, laid-back dog. Over the years, my wife, Helen, and I have had six canine companions, and Damselle is the only one who could say she knew them all.

Bogey was our first. He was my best man when Helen and I were married on a beach at Cedar Key, Fla. in 2003. Bacall was rescued from a pound in Griffin, Ga., in 2003 during the time we lived there.

Then Damselle came along after we had moved back to Ohio. In the middle of September of 2008, Helen found a stray doggie in our backyard. I was at the office, and Helen fed and stayed with her outside until I came home that evening. She was sweet, but very malnourished.

You could see every rib she had. We called her “Lady” at first, and we (well, mostly me) planned to be foster parents to her until she found a forever home. Well, she ended up being named Damselle (as in damsel in distress) and ended up being a “sibling” of Bogey and Bacall.

Years later, we did DNA tests on all of our puppy kids and found out Damselle was 50 percent Brittany, 25 percent Labrador Retriever, 12.5 percent American Staffordshire Terrier, and 12.5 percent Beagle. According to the DNA report, Brittanys are “attentive and happy dogs,” Labs are “gentle and trusting,” American Staffordshire Terriers are “hard-working and loyal dogs,” and Beagles, among their traits, have a “happy or gentle nature and are usually friendly dogs.”

Damselle was all of those things, and more.

For a few years, Bogey, Bacall and Damselle were the “Three Musketeers.” Sadly, Bogey, a Husky, passed away in December of 2011 at the age of 13. A week later, we adopted a puppy from a local rescue.

Fast-forward to December of 2015, and the “Three Musketeers” added a member as another stray found his way to our backyard. A skittish dog covered with burrs, we took him in, too.

Not long after we celebrated Bacall’s 13th birthday in September of 2016, she began having issues and it turned out she had stomach cancer. A month later, we had to make the heartbreaking decision to end her suffering as we were told her stomach could perforate if we let the cancer continue to advance. That was one of the hardest days ever.

Not too long after that, we adopted our youngest. The three were four again.

Damselle knew them all.

As the years went by, you could tell Damselle had become the matriarch of the group. She was spunky, too, and would playfully roughhouse in the backyard with the others if they egged her on, and Damselle (who was a good bit smaller), would usually win. Also, Damselle was a white dog with brown markings around her eyes and ears and over her body, but as she aged, the brown faded to almost white.

Time marches on, and she began to lose a step or two. At a vet visit more than a year ago, I pointed out it seemed Damselle was beginning to drink water like it was going out of style. That raised a red flag, and a blood test revealed she was experiencing kidney failure. By the time a blood test shows that, I was told the kidneys are about 80 percent or more permanently damaged. Roughly 15 years old, we began giving Damselle prescription dog food.

Then around August of this year, Damselle began having some trouble standing and walking at times. Sometimes we’d have to carry her outside to the pen, and we’d have to feed her separately from the other doggies.

She’d have good days and not-so-good days. I remember a day just a few weeks ago where she was lying on her pad and was dreaming. You know how dogs dream, they’ll twitch their legs and give muffled barks. I told Helen I hoped that Damselle was dreaming of running around freely and having a wonderful time like she used to in the past.

Christmas came and went, and we gave the dogs their presents. The day before New Year’s Eve, Damselle seemed to be the spunkiest she had been in a while, able to move around with relative ease, traversed a couple of stair steps to get into the house for the first time in a long time and ate all of her food in the morning and evening. I remember her watching me while she sat on her pad – I gave her a wave, she gave me a wink, and I winked back. She smiled, and so did I.

The next morning, Helen woke me up urgently telling me to check on Damselle. Many times, Damselle slept like a log, and it was hard to wake her up, but she always did. This time, she didn’t.

She looked like she was taking a nap, curled up with her head over her paw as she laid on her pad. She looked comfortable.

The fact that she passed away on New Year’s Eve, the last day of the year, almost seemed like she was telling us, “It’s OK. It’s time. I’m ready to cross the bridge.”

She went out with her “boots on,” on her terms, and the peaceful look on her face seemed like she was happy we didn’t have to make that painful decision on her behalf. Or maybe she went out dreaming of the life we gave her for nearly a decade and a half. That’s more than 100 years in dog years.

They say that having a dog will bless you with the happiest days of your life, and one of the worst days. They also say that the most difficult thing about having a dog is the “goodbye.” It’s true.

Goodbye, sweet Damselle. We love you and miss you and know you loved us. Look over us, say hi to Bogey and Bacall and run and play with them until the rest of us join you. Then we’ll have the best Puppy Party.

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a board member of the Highland District Hospital Foundation, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at

Add new comment

This is not for publication.
This is not for publication.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
Article comments are not posted immediately to the Web site. Each submission must be approved by the Web site editor, who may edit content for appropriateness. There may be a delay of 24-48 hours for any submission while the web site editor reviews and approves it. Note: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number and email address is for our use only, and will not be attached to your comment.