On September 8, 2012, we said goodbye to our dog, Dixie. Of course, if you have a pet you know that they become much more than just pets...they are members of our family, and it's terrible to have to let them go. Dixie was no different. Although I know she led a happy 13 and 1/2 years with us, and that it was her time to go, it was still very hard to say goodbye.
Dixie had a quirky personality, and I have to say that, if there was a positive aspect to dealing with her loss, it has been remembering how unique and special she was.
She was always a loyal guardian, sometimes to an extreme. If anyone got too close to me, even someone she knew, she'd start growling. And if she thought someone was being hurt, she was right in the mix, ready to protect. Even poor Ryan wasn't always immune to this treatment. He'd give me a high five, or try to tickle me, and my guard dog would spring into action. He actually has a scar on his arm to remind him where Dixie's true loyalties would always lie.
She loved her home with us, and I never worried about letting her out in the front yard alone. When I lived in an apartment in law school, I could just open my front door, let her dash across a little driveway to a green median to do her business, and she'd always come running right back. We've had more than one well-meaning neighbor stop by to let us know she was "loose" in our front yard, not realizing that I'd let her out there on purpose.
I remember so many things about what made her special and memorable. She loved to have her head petted, and she licked people's fingers like they were ice cream cones. She chewed her paws when she was nervous, and played with her favorite stuffed duck, Webster, like there was no tomorrow. She had an odd affinity for small metal objects - I often found her chewing on paper clips, stray nails, bracelets, and beaded shoes. She could do a few tricks, like sitting, lying down and playing dead, but before long she learned that she could get her treat faster if she did them all together in rapid succession :)
She hated being confined or left alone, digging and scratching her way out of many crates and gates (and seriously marring one laundry room door at my in-laws!). And she was a snuggler, often burying herself under couch pillows or warm bodies when she could find them. She lived with Ryan for a while before we were married and he still remembers how Dixie would cuddle up against his back while he slept (I guess whatever provoked the scarring injury was forgiven by then).
Yes, I'd say Dixie entrenched herself in our lives while she was here, and we loved her for it. It's still hard to believe she's not sleeping in a patch of sun somewhere or snuffling around the kitchen table for scraps. I sometimes think I still hear her, scratching at the back door or whining to be let up in our bed. I tried a few times to make her sleep at night on her own bed, but she wasn't having any of that. So she slept with us, somehow taking up a third of the bed, even though she only weighed ten pounds! I can't count how many nights my legs fell asleep because they were bent at awkward angles trying not to disturb Miss Dixie's space :)
I miss her, and I know I'll never have another dog like her. It's been hard to pack up all her little things...her food bowl, and leash, and toys are such a part of our life that I don't really even notice them any more.
But I think that's okay. I think that's how it should be when someone you love is gone. They don't suddenly disappear from your heart or from your life. And we wouldn't want them to. They leave little reminders behind that comfort us and take us back to those happy moments together.
Rest in peace, sweet Dixie.