Rosie Tribute

This rescue dog loved us
and we loved her right back

By Eric G. Stark and Cindy Stark

It was rare to hear her bark. In all the years we were together this dog likely barked a dozen times. Tops. And yet, on this day she barked.

Cindy was on the phone with me after she and Jesse, our son who was five years old at the time, visited this unwanted dog at the SPCA in Lancaster. Cindy was talking to me near the street and this dog came out to the outdoor pen and barked at them. Again, this dog never barks, and yet she barked at them. It was like she was saying, “Hey, come back and get me. Adopt me.”

Rosie and Jesse pose in the backyard.

When I heard the barking it sold me. I said, “Okay, let’s get her.”

I first saw a photo that Casey Kreider took of this dog as the “Pet Of The Week” for the Sunday News in Lancaster nearly eight years ago. Cindy and I went on our lunch break to see this Old English Bulldog mix. When we got there I was shocked, and, to be honest, a bit turned off. The dog’s breasts were hanging low and there was a large yellow spot on her fur.

Turns out the dog, which was called Lola when we got there, but we learned later never had a name before and didn’t know her name, was abused, being over bred, having two liters a year since she was six months old. When officials went to the Amish farm to arrest the breeder, they said they found 11 dogs in the pen, 10 were alive.

When we adopted Lola, the employees at the SPCA took a photo and tried to get the dog’s attention. They said, “Lola,” and the dog did not respond. I heard one employee whisper to her co-worker, she doesn’t know her name. I was like, hold on, “What?” Turns out this dog never had a name before coming to the SPCA. She was just a number to the breeder.

Stella stopped being scared of Rosie.

When we got home, I said we need a new name, as “Lola” does not roll off the tongue very well. She tossed around some names and Jesse suggested “Rosie” and we all liked the name and it stuck. It didn’t take long for Rosie to learn and respond to her new name.

This dog had a rough life. Cindy and I also believe she was returned to the SPCA at least once. Likely it was the owners were told to crate her at night. Rosie hated this. She’d cry and smash her face into the door of the crate, often bruising her face and getting a bloody nose.

Cindy and I took turns sleeping downstairs with Rosie. Finally we left her out of the crate and she was fine. We got her a small bed and she loved sleeping on it. She never made a mess in the house and she loved the freedom. She never should have been in a crate. She hated the crate.

Back to the yellow spot on her back. It was a burn mark, about an eight-inch circle, where a heat lamp burned her. We were assured the mark would go away and it did. The same with the large breasts from feeding her puppies. They too became smaller.

Cindy put a T-shirt on her, which covered the large breasts and the burnt spot. Rosie never minded the shirt and looked cute wearing it.

She was a clean dog. I believe this came from trying to keep her puppies clean. Until her last month of life, Rosie rarely went to the bathroom in the house. In fact, on the rare occasions when she did, she looked horrified. But take it a step further, Rosie until about a year ago, never went to the bathroom in her own backyard. You had to take her off property for her to go to the bathroom. It was nice having a dog and not having to clean up poop in your yard.

Read Her Emotions

Never I have seen a dog where you could read her face and know how she was feeling. Rosie let you know with her facial expressions. On the rare occasions (until she was dying) she went to the bathroom in the house, she looked ashamed.

We could tell when she was happy, even if we didn’t she her little stub wagging. Rosie also had a facial expression when I was eating. Yes, she stopped my Cindy’s plate, but she knew I would share and she camped near me. Often times, we eat from dinner trays in our living room.

Roise could be eye-level with the tray. I’d tell her to sit and she did immediately. No bull-headness with this bulldog at that moment. She listened because she wanted my food.

Cindy always had a bone for me to give Rosie. After our meal prayer – Rosie often got impatient during the prayer and huffed or jumped, altering me to wrap up the blessing – I gave her the bone and it seemed like 5 second later she was back at my tray ready to share my meal.

She could be protective, too. We heard her growl, on occasion, and even charged at our cousin, Darryl when he entered the living room. She’d try to nip at a few men when they talked by on the patio, but with only six teeth (poor nutrition) she was harmless.

From top to bottom, Stella, Cindy, Jesse and Rosie.

The Good Times

Especially as she got older and had more trouble getting off her bed with her stiff hips, we’d come home and call for her, as opposed to when she first joined the family and heard our car and met us at the back door. I would say “where’s my Rosie” or “Rose Marie” – yes, we gave her a middle name. Cindy used to sort of sing her name, “Ros-Ie”

Rosie always had to be in the same room with us. Often times she slept partially under my recliner and I had to remember (I sometimes forgot and I’d hear a yelp) not to put the chair down on her.

When I wrote on the computer Rosie kept me company. I was nice to have another living being in the room, even if it was a dog and she was sleeping.

When it was winter and the living room got cold at night, Rosie cuddled up on the sofa. She knew I didn’t want her there, so she was sneaky about it. In her last few months, when she was clearly slowing down, I backed off sofa restrictions. She looked cute curled up with her head on a pillow.

She also liked to stay near the refrigerator when Cindy was cooking and I was grilling; Rosie often got to sample chicken or steak off the grill to make sure it was done.


For about half of her time with us, she insisted on going for a walk to go potty. It was years before she went in our yard. The walk consisted of going into by brother Mark’s yard, often tinkling there and then walking across the street to Zion Luthern Church in Leola. She may poop by the pine trees and use the pine needles to cover it up or she’d walk along the perimeter the church grounds and then Rosie would walk over and around the water tower.

Stella looks down on Rosie.

Most days, it was Cindy who went with Rosie on these walks. But after school and work it was Jesse and I who did this walk. We often stopped at the water basin behind the church parking lot and threw football. Rosie laid in the grass nicely, though she might get restless and walk with her leash dragging behind her. We’d promise her we were almost done. Often she’d sit back down and wait.

Jesse and I walked with Rosie across Route 23 near the old Kurtz’s store. Rosie was sniffing and had her head buried in the bush. All of sudden she lunges forward and I pull back on her leash and Rosie’s pulled out of the bush with a new friend in her mouth. Rosie caught a baby rabbit. Jesse, who was about age 7, was horrified. I said, “Rosie, drop it.” She eventually dropped the rabbit, but the damage was done. The rabbit had a wounded leg. I was more careful when Rosie sniffed at bushes.

Then there was the time in the rain. Rosie hated the rain. She despised being wet. Most rainy days Cindy took Rosie out. It just made more sense. Cindy was far more patient and sweet with her during the foul weather.

Jesses rests on a sleeping Rosie.

But Jesse was walking with Rosie and I in the rain one evening. Were at the end of Linden Street and Rosie still had not gone to the bathroom. We had an umbrella, but it was raining hard and it was miserable outside.

I was frustrated, to say the least. I yelled at Rosie and pulled on her leash. She stiff-legged me and pulled her neck out of her collar and took off running in a full sprint down the middle of the street. I was standing there holding a leash with a collar at the end.

Jesse, in his rain gear of a rain coat and boots, ran behind Rosie yelling her name. I shook my head and walked slowly at first and then jogged toward my house that was about 200 yards away.

To my amazement, Rosie ran and turned left at our driveway and dashed toward the back of our house. When I got to the back door, there was Rosie (and Jesse) standing there ready to go in. I could not believe she knew how to find our house.
She knew her home and loved living there.

Unless there was food, Rosie was really tired in her last few months.