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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Dixie


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.

18 comments:

Jan and Tom's Place said...

awwwwwwww Karen...your story just breaks my heart. You speak so lovingly of Dixie...and she was just so cute.

We'll keep you and your family in our prayers as you struggle with the loss of Dixie.

~Blessings and HUGS...
Jan

Carol at Clutter Bug Studio said...

Karen, what a beautiful and touching tribute to your special little Dixie. I pray your heart will be lightened knowing what a gracious thing you have done letting her go into a place of peace and pain-free comfort.
Hugs,
Carol

Roseny Crisp said...

I do not know you, nor your cachorrinha
, bad, I was very sad for the loss.
We have three dogs here at home:
Boxer, Pintcha and poodle.
I can not imagine being without them,
is like you said they are part of
family.

My heartfelt feelings

Roseny

Sorry English

lisa said...

Karen ~

I am so sorry.


Lisa

Deb said...

This is my first visit to your blog & I had to leave a comment to say how sorry I am to read about your sweet Dixie. We lost our beautiful lab Ben in September and I know exactly how you are feeling. Your post was a touching tribute.

Joyc Lucas said...

What a loving tribute to your precious Dixie. You've been in my thoughts and prayers. I know how much you'll miss your baby.
Hugs, MB

Patricia said...

Karen, I am so sorry. Thank God that you were able to have that incredibly special dog for as long as you did with the challlenges you faced early on. I think we get that one 'best friend' once in a lifetime.

Pat

Cindy - Angel Wings Cottage said...

Karen - - It makes me so sad for you . . . but you have wonderful memories that will always be with you. It's true, they are like our little angel babies, aren't they? You will be in my thoughts.

Hugs, Cindy O.

Sharon said...

I am so sorry for your loss~ what a sweetheart~ little Dixue has stolen all of our hearts. oxox~S

Carrie Gonzalez said...

Karen,

I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you and your family during this difficult time. Sweet Dixie will always live on in your heart and memories.
((()))
Carrie

Susie said...

Karen,
What a love story! My heart aches for your loss. Thank God for your time together, what a special bond you and Dixie shared.
Pink hugs,
Susie
The Polka Dot Rose

Sweet Necessi-Teas said...

Thank you all for the sweet messages. The pain is still there, but it helps...

(( )) Karen

Shelia said...

Oh, Karen, I'm so sorry for your loss of your most precious Dixie. She was so beautiful and your story of her really has touched my heart! I do understand about the love of a precious little animal and my heart and prayers go out to you and your family!
Hugs,
shelia :(

gail said...

Karen, I am sorry, I didnt know until tonight. I am so sorry for your loss. What a sweet little girl and I can tell what she has meant to your family. Your in my prayers. I wish for some peace for your heart....love, gail

GardenGoose said...

so very sorry to read about your precious puppy.
hugs to you.

Shirl said...

Hi Karen your story is just heartbreaking, I can feel the pain for you. What a sweetie Dixie was! I'm sure she will always be in your heart. I have always wanted a Yorkie and plan on getting one when I retire. I hope I find one as sweet as Dixie!
Blessings, Shirl
Shirls Rose Cottage

Carolyn, A Jersey Girl said...

I COULD NOT read this post beyond the first few sentences. I lost my Westie, Maggie, on New Year's Eve 2006. She died in my arms so she knew she was loved until her last breath. Losing any furbaby rips out a chunk of your heart that no other furry child can fill. God Bless you!
Caar

Melissa's Cozy Tea Time Readings said...

Oh how sad. My heart aches for you and your loss. Pets are so special. i still have the little foot impression in plaster the vet made of my cat's foot when she had to be put down. I don't think I'll ever part with it.