Commentary: Through hail and hijinks, Roxy has taught us plenty

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Jean Simmons, columnist

Jean Simmons is a Franklin resident, nurse and published author who won a Janice Keck Literary Award from the Williamson County Public Library in 2014. She can be contacted at

My husband found Roxy as a puppy. She was by the side of the road and had been abandoned. We had not planned on getting a dog, having just moved into a new house. Plus, we already had a dog-hating cat. 

But life doesn’t always go as planned. 

Her sweet disposition won everyone over, even the cat came around — eventually. Over the years, she taught us about many wonderful pleasures — the joy of relaxing by the fire, the satisfaction of a long walk — as well as the idea of unconditional love.  

Despite her daunting appearance, a 90-pound German Shepherd mix, she is a big baby. Thunder sends her under the table every time despite our reassurances that the world is not ending. And no amount of treats, thunder shirts, or other diversions will convince her otherwise. She is a good weather predictor since she knows a storm is coming long before anyone else. The severity of the storm can also be measured by the degree her tail is tucked under. When it’s all the way under, better head for cover.

Roxy is not the best at obeying commands and sometimes misbehaves, but her loving nature always shines through, especially with kids. I like to take her to my son’s school because the students light up when they see her, petting her from head to toe as she blissfully lays on her back. That must be what dog heaven looks like.

We had her lineage checked once by an ancestry test for dogs and it showed one side of pure German Shepherd. The other side of the family, however, was an explosion of breeds that mixed with the pure bred side at some point and eventually gave us Roxy. When people ask what breed she is I sometimes make one up, such as Rock Island Shepherd, after the name of the town where we found her. This is strictly for fun. We are proud that she is a combination of many breeds. It is part of what makes her unique.

As a puppy and young adult, Roxy was very active. It was a true test of the leash’s strength if a rabbit happened by on one of our walks. And she’d be absolutely beside herself if other exotic creatures, such as armadillos or possums, appeared. She would also dart out the front door — if left open or unattended — to go on a wild chase around our neighborhood until she became exhausted from chasing various critters that she never caught. Then she would drag herself home or someone in the neighborhood would take her in and post a picture on our neighborhood Facebook page. 

One eventful night she got out twice and was taken in by neighbors who posted on Facebook that they’d found her. This made her a neighborhood sensation, and it made us quite embarrassed.   

Those days seem to be over for her, now that she is approaching her senior years. She is content to lay on her bed and barely look at the door when it opens. Her muzzle is gray, a limp comes and goes and she sleeps most of the day but she still perks up for walks. The impulse to chase anything that runs by while outside also remains as well, as does her love of a thorough head scratching or belly rub. 

I hope the day never comes when these simple things don’t give her the pure joy she feels now.

It is a sad fact of life that dogs have a short lifespan compared to us. I think that makes our time with them even more precious, and their inevitable loss even more profound. 

Jean Simmons is a Nashville native, Franklin resident, former nurse and published author. She can be contacted at

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