Friday, April 22, 2005

Miss Dixie: 1986 - 2003

Dixie was a stray, one of the many pets dumped by the side of the road each day. She belonged somewhere, there was a dirty collar but no tags. She was looking for someone; she would start to run up to the cars or trucks as they pulled in the driveways, her tail wagging furiously but then she would stop as the door opened and it wasn't her person. Her ears dropped and her tail fell between her legs as she backed away. She was deathly afraid of men and could tell a small boy from a girl. I saw her for several days darting here and there through the subdivision before she finally came up to my truck and let me pick her up, too hungry to ignore the offer of food any longer.

We already had a dog, a Beagle named Barney, but when no one claimed her she became Dixie. She and Barney became fast friends. I took her to the vet to be spayed and he discovered that she had heartworms, so she endured the treatment twice before being given a clean bill of health. She and Barney would dig out of the yard even though Oklahoma clay was hard to dig through. One night I came home and Dixie was at the back door crying, but Barney was gone. She led me to the back fence and there was his collar by the tunnel under the fence. We looked and posted flyers but to no avail. Three days later we found him in the ditch behind the house three doors down. Even though we lived along a lightly traveled road at the edge of farmland, he had been hit by a car; he probably had his nose down like all Beagles do. Dixie cried and cried. I let her stay in the house for several nights and although we had not house trained her, she knew what to do. She stayed on the bed with me, got as close as possible and never moved the entire night.

I went to retrieve Barney's picture from the ASPCA and while there we found a small female beagle puppy who was scheduled to be euthanized at the end of the day. I couldn't take that so Dottie came home with us. Thus began a long relationship spanning fifteen years; a love/hate type at times, but that is a story in itself. Dixie and Dottie moved from Oklahoma to Mississippi with Nyssa and I. They found it easier to dig out in Mississippi and did so many times. They had woods to run in and always stayed together....when we found one we found the other. Dottie learned to open the gate to the yard requiring a lock and Dixie learned to climb the fence. They chased squirrels and cornered possums on the woodpile together. They survived the storm of 2001 that felled trees and moved their dog house six inches; and this is a dog house that would require a crane to move. They were part of the funerals for our three old Siamese cats who made the trek from OKC to MS with them.

All too soon, it seemed, Dixie began to slow down, she lost her hearing, then developed cataracts and arthritis. I thought she would be the first to leave us. We knew she was at least 16 years old but weren't sure. Then in early 2003, Dottie became ill, fluid was collecting in her abdomen and a lung malignancy was diagnosed. She was in pain, couldn't breath and I had to put her down in January of 2003.

Dixie knew. She was inconsolable; the spotted beagle had been her eyes, she followed her from the dog house to the porch and all around the yard. She curled up with her in the heated/air conditioned dog house and had been her companion forever. Dixie quickly deteriorated. It became difficult for her to stand on her feet, walk around and balance. She had to be coaxed to eat. Finally in March, she stumbled into her dishpan of water and couldn't get all the way out by herself. She stood there crying and I just knew it was time. As the vet gave her the sedative, she looked at us through her clouded eyes, we rubbed her ears and told her we loved her; then she licked my hand and I held her as she quietly went to sleep for the last time.
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