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Why All Dogs Go to Heaven

I got some sad news recently. Roscoe, the happy Golden Retriever in the picture above died. Roscoe's skillful portrayal of Sandy in last year's production of Annie won the hearts of everyone who saw the play. As the director, I had the opportunity to work closely with Roscoe and I became particularly fond of him. He was a friendly, happy dog--the quintessence of all the good things we think of in dogs generally and retrievers specifically.

They say all dogs go to heaven, and in Roscoe's case, I'm quite sure it's true. There are some lessons I learned from this dog, lessons I think most of us could stand to learn.

Roscoe was obedient. He followed directions that the trainer gave him, doing quickly and well what he was asked. He didn't argue or balk or sulk--he just did it.

Roscoe didn't try to be Annie and he wasn't mad that he didn't get the role of Daddy Warbucks. He simply played his role to the best of his ability. He gave everything he had to his role, using his qualities and talents (yes, he was talented) to do good work. His role, though short in terms of on-stage time, made a big difference in the play. There's a lesson in that, I think for all of us--it's great to have some ambition, but I wonder how much better off we might be if we did more embracing of the roles we've been given in life, focusing our strengths and unique talents on those roles instead of looking around us, wanting more or different things. Neither arrogant, or insecure, he was just himself, and that was wonderful.

Roscoe had another marvelous attribute. He was warm and affectionate to everyone he met. Roscoe was happy to spend time with anyone at all--and in a cast of 130 kids, he was a bit of a rock star, so he always had lots of people giving him attention. Roscoe didn't care--or notice--if someone was in the chorus or the lead or the director. He liked everyone.

On this note, Roscoe was patient with everyone. He got patted and petted and poked an awful lot--but he never snapped or snarled. He endured it patiently--perhaps even with some joy. Roscoe was so loving that it wouldn't surprise me.

Most of all, Roscoe was just a happy dog. He made few demands of people, loved everyone, and lived a simple life. He did the work he was given to do and did it well.

RIP Roscoe. I hope to be as good as you someday


Braden Bell is the author of The Road Show. A husband, father, director, and middle school teacher, he blogs about all of the above at

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