Someone once said “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole,” and that is so very true. Here is a love letter to our sweet rescue dog Dixie.
Oh my friends. Here comes the post that I never wanted to write, even though over the past weeks it was becoming more and more clear that the time was drawing near.
Over the past several days our family has cried our way through more boxes of tissues, because that sweet face up there is gone from our home…but since she is always going to be part of our hearts, and because she was such a big part of this blog from its very first days, I wanted to share not only our grief, but even more-so the joy she gave us and others.
Back up almost 14 years ago…my sweet daughter had wanted a dog for AGES, and when we decided to make the leap, we started looking around for a rescue dog.
We thought we would adopt an young adult dog that was already housebroken, until we found a picture of three little puppies on the website for a shelter called Aunt Mary’s Doghouse.
We got in touch with the amazing Mary Cody, and drove out to the shelter to meet the puppies. They were tiny little bundles of wriggling happiness who had been left on the side of the road somewhere in South Carolina, sick and injured, and Mary took them in and nursed them back to health.
It was an especially tough road for the smallest puppy, but that puppy had a determined personality and by the time we got to the shelter, she was full of pep and used that energy to jump right into my daughter’s lap.
Mary asked us all kinds of questions to make sure we were the right family, and happily that sassy little puppy ended up coming home with us and making herself right at home on the living room couch.
We named her Dixie, which seemed to fit right into our family’s Southern background – and hers!
And as if all that wasn’t exciting enough, my sweet daughter was invited to write a book about adopting a rescue dog…which she did!
The book is called A HOME FOR DIXIE, and was illustrated with photographs by the reknowned photographer Bob Carey, and my daughter and Dixie got to go everywhere from the Today Show to schools and libraries and bookstores full of kids eager to hear about adopting a puppy.
Dixie had the time of her life.
Back at home over the years, Dixie did what all good dogs do. She patrolled the kitchen whenever I was cooking in case anything miraculously leapt out of the pan and onto the floor.
She was in the middle of everything from the Southern daughter’s graduation from grade school, to her high school proms, to her wedding celebration last year (even though she was not invited to the reception, for noisy barking reasons).
Dixie and the Southern husband were two peas in a pod.
Let’s just say he took that motto on his tee shirt very seriously.
Over the years Dixie worked her way into so many hearts, with her irrepressible love of life and that hound dog face.
She was a smart cookie who was always up for learning a new trick – roll over, sit pretty and shake paws were her greatest hits.
She never did learn not to barrel into whomever was at the front door though – she was just beside herself with excitement at the prospect of anyone and everyone who came to visit.
And speaking of visiting, she loved that too. “Want to go in the car?” was one of her favorite things to hear, and she adored everyone from the folks at the vet to her groomers.
One of her very last visits was with my mama. Even though at this point she was not feeling her best, she still showered her dog grandma with happy dog smiles (and got some peanut butter crackers in return).
And speaking of dog love, the word “snouting” was popular in our house, because if you stopped petting her, that hound dog nose would bump your arm until she got the scrubbies she loved.
But most of all – more than peanut butter, more than car rides, more than anything – Dixie loved her people.
I will remember forever the snuggly feeling of taking a nap with my feet tucked under a blanket of curled up Dixie.
I will remember forever the comfort of crying into her fur during hard times.
I will remember forever the hilarity of watching her race around the living room with the zoomies, throwing her bedraggled toys in the air in a burst of unbridled dog joy.
She fell asleep for the last time this week, cradled in my arms, finishing one last cookie, completely delighted to be at the vet with some of her favorite people.
Her tail wagged until her eyes closed, and I could feel her melt gently into my lap, dreaming of the days she could leap illegally onto the bed, or dig into her favorite cup of dog ice cream, or happily tackle whomever was at the front door.
Dixie was, as all good dogs are, the gold standard of optimism, forgiveness and unconditional, overwhelming love, and our whole family is blessed to have shared more than 13 years with our good girl.
There are not enough words on earth to thank Mary Cody, our superhero vet staff at Montvale Animal Hospital, Dixie’s best friends at Best Friends, and everyone else (Dennis! She adored you!) who made this abandoned little puppy into a joyous bundle of exuberant dog love.
I’ll end this love letter by sharing one of my all time favorite pictures of our girl.
I’m scritching her behind the ears, and she is a blurry whirlwind of dog happiness, and that is how she will live in my heart and mind forever.
And whenever you run across her picture on some of the hundreds of recipe posts on this site, I hope she brings a smile to your face too. She would have loved that.
Tearfully, gratefully yours,