Dixie, our family’s dog, died at the age of 12 on Friday. She had a sudden onset of cancer, and before my dad could take her to the vet to have her suffering taken away she died in his arms. And I am glad for that.
Dixie spent her first night with our family with my dad. He stayed with her all night that very first day at home. And she was glued to him ever since.
Of course it was mutual. It had been years since we had a dog. Dixie was Dad’s 50th birthday present. Mom joked at the shop about getting him a perfect mid-life crisis present. “You got him a car??” “No! I got him a dog!”
Dixie was his dog, no doubt about it. She was a family Lab for sure, but that Chessie was her daddy’s. I was a distant but acceptable second. It probably helped that I act and sound like him.
This past March, we got to travel and see my parents’ new home. The kids got to see the mutt we loved so dear. It was a good feeling that even after moving away years ago and having my own St Patty’s girl, Dixie never forgot me. A quick sniff and hearing my voice and I got the loving head-butt to the jewels. Not a hesitation that I was one of her boys.
It’s understandable. We grew up together, were bull-headed teenagers together (I was 18, she was 2). Dixie was more than happy to jump on the couch with you. And you, much more appropriately, were likewise as happy to sit on the floor with her.
These pets of ours certainly know how to worm into everyone’s hearts. Stories of late gaming at my house and stories about Hobbes and Dixie are thoroughly interwoven. The running gag with Dixie at the gaming table was if she did a backflip, we’d give her a pizza. I think it started with a slice, but we kept upping the ante. We knew as time passed that she was just saving it up for us.
In the back of my mind, I still feel like she is.
Twelve years is too damn short, and good and long. Dixie was happy and she made us twice that. Life without her would have been so much more hollow. No happy greetings nearly knocking you over, no telling you when dinner was done, and who the hell knows if Earth itself would have survived without her reminders to recycle.
So with tears in my eyes and a smile in my heart, I say goodbye to our family dog. As imperfect as any of us, and perfectly one of us, we all know we would not have been a fully family without that brown dog.
Goodbye, Dixie-Belle. I love you.