By / Letters to the Editor / Friday, 30 July 2021 19:02

Folks on Pleasure Island knew her simply as “Rose.”  I met her at the Carolina Beach Dog Park where she was a regular visitor with her forever friend, Speagle the Beagle.  They stayed with friends at various locations on the Island over the years.  When a bed was unavailable, they slept in her car, which was packed solid with life belongings and memories.  That’s where she died last Saturday.

She struggled with wounds from her past, but never allowed those to define who she was.  She was fiercely independent and resilient.  She had a big heart and an easy smile that touched the many people with whom she had contact.  Businesses and Churches on the Island opened their doors to her and Speagle.  She lived life to the fullest.  Our redbone coonhound Kirby, learned to recognize her car on our walks and early morning trips to the Dog Park.  She seemed to always have an extra treat for him. 

Christmas morning 2019 we got to the Park early to find a message written on a pizza box:  “Blessed Morn!!!  Until I see everyone again Joy, Peace, Doggie Love to all!!!  Thanks for caring for me and Speagle-Dog as we are.”  It is a sobering lesson in relationship and empathy that no text book can ever teach.

When her car died last year, Rose used an old bike to get around towing Speagle in a child’s trailer.  After she lost a wheel on the trailer and it was beyond repair, a restaurant owner donated money for a new trailer.  She took advantage of many opportunities to share gifts with folks she cared for.  I have a coffee cup that says:  “Life is better with a furry friend.”  When she found out my wife was looking to buy a horse, a small plastic version was left on the hood of my truck.

After a prolonged absence from the Park, she showed up last fall and her legs were more swollen than usual.  I talked to her about much needed assistance and put the word out to the Social Work community in Wilmington.  I received an overwhelming response and phone numbers for her to call.  I assisted her with making some contacts, but fears of losing her independence and Speagle prevented her from choosing permanent housing.

My hope is she died peacefully with her car pointed towards the ocean.  But, like most poor, homeless people she was entitled to a better fate.  Empathy and compassion can make that happen.  They are a bridge to acceptance and what it means to be fully human in America – “as we are.”


John Shalanski


821 Fort Fisher Blvd. N.

Kure Beach, NC 28449










Please publish modules in offcanvas position.