Yesterday was one of those days that will be etched in my memory forever. Not because of the election, but because I lost a piece of my heart.
Dixie has been a part of our family for 13 1/2 years. She came into our lives as a tiny ball of black fluff--a 5 week old Yorkie puppy. She was so sweet from the very first day--followed us around everywhere we went. My kids were 2 and 6 at the time...they are now almost 16 and almost 20. Where did the time go?
From the beginning, Dixie was different from the other Yorkie we had loved. She had a different temperament--she was not a one-person dog, she was everyone's pet. Not just our family--I mean everyone's pet. She never saw a person that she didn't like. I always said she didn't know she was a dog. Most Yorkies are very territorial. Not Dixie. When we took her out for walks, she totally ignored other dogs (would not even acknowledge them) and would go straight to the person, lay down at their feet and roll over to have her stomach petted.
People always asked me how we trained her to do that. We didn't. That was just Dixie. She never had an obedience class. We clipped on a leash and she just knew how to walk--no straining at the leash, no chasing after cars, no barking at squirrels or cats.
When she was 4 months old she came down with Demodex (genetic)mange. (We thought we had bought her from a family, but found out later that the lady was a front for a puppy mill...hence the weakened immune system from over breeding.) She lost all her hair, got a staph infection and nearly died. The vet told me she probably wouldn't make it, but I could try. So he prescribed the treatment of dipping and medications and I set out to save the life of the little puppy that had stolen my heart. She had fever and would shiver, so I cut up a tube sock to make a tiny sweater for her. She slept next to me at night for warmth. I carried her everywhere because she was too weak to walk. We went through the dipping and rinsing routine for 2 months and she learned to trust that I would not drown her (but she never did like getting a bath!) Slowly her hair began to grow back, her strength returned, and she got well. The vet proclaimed a miracle. What he didn't know was that Dixie had a strong will to live and I had a bond with her that could not let her go without a fight. And that is how she came to be my dog.
She still loved everybody else, but she and I had something special. When I would sew, she would jump up in the chair and lay behind me as long as I was there. At night she slept between my husband and me, but always on my side of the bed. When she wanted to play, she would bring me the toy (even if I didn't throw it). If I left the room, she followed. She was my shadow. When I held her she would lay her head on my shoulder and I would whisper "You're mama's good girl" in her ear and she would lift her head up, look at me and give me a quick little kiss with her "kitty cat" tongue (soft and dry).
The years passed and she was so much a part of the family. I can hardly remember a time when she wasn't with us. Always present, always a presence. Prissy and dainty. She didn't like to get her feet wet, so she would try to avoid going in the grass. Happy. Loving. When friends or family (or even repairmen) came over, she always knew they were there to see her and pet her stomach. Smart, but stubborn--she would do tricks, but only for treats! Loyal. Trusting and trustworthy. She never ran off if she went out the front door. She would always just make her way around to the back door after a little tour of the grass and bushes. She would look through the glass and bark and scratch to be let in. These are the things I remember.
Age and ailments began to set in a couple of years ago. She had the symptoms of Cushing's Disease (but I didn't know it until a few weeks ago). She had seizures occasionally. She couldn't jump up in the chair anymore, but she was content to sit at my feet. Cataracts formed. Her hearing started going , but she could hear me whisper in her ear..
A few months ago, she started having other problems. We went to the vet and tried to treat the symptoms which were similar to colitis. Nothing seemed to help. It was only through piecing together a string of seemingly unrelated symptoms that we discovered the Cushing's Disease. It was too late. Her organs had been compromised and we knew it wouldn't be long. This past weekend, she got really sick and I knew it was almost time.
On Monday, we had to make that hard decision and call the vet. Secretly, I was still hoping he could buy her some more time, but it was not to be. Monday night she stopped eating and drinking. Yesterday she was restless. She was in pain and could not get comfortable. She followed me from room to room and just wanted to be held. She put her head on my shoulder and went to sleep like a baby. We had scheduled a late appointment and the kids were able to spend some time with her, saying their goodbyes. My sweet husband drove us all to the vet office and we all were able to be there as she left her pain and illness behind. I whispered in her ear and she was gone. And with her, is a piece of my heart.