While her physical heart may have stopped beating and her physical fluffy body is no longer here, her real heart will always remain a presence in my life.
Yes, everyone thinks their dogs are special. And Dixie was. She came to us as a 2 – 3 year old rescue with two sets of vet records. We chose to believe the one that made her younger so she’d last longer. She was probably 13 when she left us.
After the death of our beloved Golden, Beaufort, a friend found out about Dixie from a friend. Dixie had been in two families who just didn’t have time for her. We saw the flyer, fell in love and agreed to take her on a week-end trial run.
She showed up almost nine years ago with a thick red leash looped around her belly because she was so hard to control. All she came with was a bag of dog food with an old measuring cup, her vet records and that red leash. Her first evening with us was spent at the neighbor’s house with lots of dogs, kids, noise and food. We quickly discovered she was an expert counter surfer. She was hooked and so were we.
She had mischievous energy. Up to her last day, she was scavenging the trash can, licking dishes in the dishwasher and hiding contraband she had stolen off the counter. She would “tunnel” between your legs or give you a wet nose nuzzle when she wanted attention. She could block your path with her big fluffy self - forcing a stop for a quick ear scratch or belly rub.
Dixie was a creature of habit with three places in the house where I knew she could always be found. Every morning at 7:45 she jumped up from her chair in the sunroom barking at something – I never did figure out what. She knew when a certain light switch clicked it was time for bed. She had an intuition for what her “people” needed and gave it unselfishly.
Last summer, I decided we needed to fit her for a sandwich board that said “therapy dog for people on vacation who miss their dogs.”
She was a magnet for kids on the beach never tiring of small hands groping her ears, pulling her tail or rubbing her belly (which she would quickly show at the slightest interest of anyone). So interesting how she loved kids never having lived with any.
At the beach she became a regular at several of my favorite restaurants, to the point one waitress knew her name and knew to drop exactly three ice cubes in her water bowl. At Thanksgiving, two families “rented” her for their holiday card photos.
One of my happiest moments with her was just a week or so ago as we sat quietly on a very cold beach watching the final magnificent sunrise of 2017.
Dixie’s serious illness in late October now makes me reflect on what a gift we had with these last weeks. She was a little slower but still up for a walk, or even better, a ride in the convertible. She’d rest her head on the side of the car with her ears flapping out like the flying nun. I was forever coming up with cartoon bubbles to describe what I was sure she was thinking.
Three beach trips, miles of walks, hours of nuzzles, not to mention several trash can disasters and disappearing food items filled her last weeks. We had some great adventures over the past few weeks - visiting Soda City, eating lunch with a friend on the patio at Salty Nut, making a Still Hopes visit, riding in the Cayce Christmas parade. I hold those memories so dear.
Now, I feel her physical absence intensely - the click of her toenails on the hardwood floors, her nighttime sleep stirrings, her nose pressing at the patio door when she wanted to come in, her fluffy presence at the gate when I pulled in the driveway, her dance around the food bowl, the language of her eyes saying she’s ready for a little attention – or even more her eyes saying she knew I was in need of a little attention.
She’s left a hole in my heart, and I’m working on accepting her death with gratitude for her life and what she taught, gave and how she loved.
Anyone who doesn't believe dogs have souls, can smile and love, just never met Dixie to prove them wrong. Several friends have told me Dixie won the lottery when she got us. I know it was the other way around.
Rest in peace, sweet girl.