On Thursday, we received the news that we did not want to hear. Our sweet Dixie went in for a CT scan and they found that she had cancer in her nose. The cancer was spreading to her brain and beginning to push on her eyes. It was also blocking her left nostril completely and her right nostril at 50 percent. It would only be a matter of time, as the disease would continue to progress and make her quality of life even worse. Seth and I decided that we would not prolong her suffering and put her down on Friday.
Our last night with her was special. Despite the fact that she was a little sedated and agitated from the anesthesia, she was able to enjoy a bowl of “keemy” (ice cream) and multiple treats from Grandma Melissa. She was held, pet, swaddled and loved and we did our best to make her comfortable.
On Friday morning, we woke up with the sinking feeling that the inevitable was going to happen. We were both sick to our stomachs, knowing that our time would run out and it would soon be time to say goodbye. Dixie was visited by Grandma Beth and enjoyed eating her favorite Pupperoni. Aunt Becky and Cousin Ruby stopped by to say their goodbyes and give her one last hug.
We cuddled with her all morning. She struggled to breathe and the bleeding from her nose was getting worse. If you have ever seen Dixie, she had a tuft of hair on the top of her head. It almost looked like a Mohawk. Seth and I wanted to keep some as a way to remember her. I grabbed the scissors and cut her hair. The sound of the shears cutting off a symbolizing piece of our dog ignited a multitude of tears. We were bawling.
At 10:20AM, the veterinarian arrived at our house. After questions were answered and procedures were discussed, the time to put Dixie down had come. Seth held her close and I petted her head. Her eyes stayed open and Seth announced when he knew she had gone. I didn’t see a final breath, but I do remember the stoned look on her face and I knew too she had passed.
One of the main reasons I wanted her to be euthanized at the house, was so that our other dog, Calvin, could gain some closure. He watched her pass away from a distance and afterwards, would not come near her. We even laid her on the floor so he could sniff her and understand that she was gone. He did not want anything to do with her. I think he knew.
We had little appetites, but forced ourselves to get out of the house and go to dinner. In the past, whenever we came home, we would pull into the driveway and Dixie would be looking out the window at us. She would always cock her head to the side, almost like she was double checking it was really us who were pulling into the driveway. Then, when we would get to the door, she would jump up to us and bark. Cal would follow her lead, and assist with the barking. We always had a welcoming committee.
Last night, when we came home, Calvin was lying on the couch and seemed melancholy. He didn’t get up to welcome us and acted like he didn’t even know we had gone. Calvin was grieving too.
I lost it. I have been losing it over the last day. This has been much harder than I anticipated. Yesterday, I went through her pictures and realized how long and at the same time, how little she had been a part of our life. We only had her for three and a half years, but the years that we had her were so monumental in our life together.
We had only lived in our house for two months when we brought her home for the first time. She lived with us before we became the Johnsons and even came along for our engagement photo shoot.
Dixie was there on our wedding day. She was brought in for pictures and she was the one and only reason I cried. In the midst of all the stress, she was the break in my day and I was so happy to see her.
Dixie was there during the storm. The storm that took out all of our trees in our backyard and completely transformed our landscaping. She was there while we cleaned up the damage and spent many summer nights and weekends roofing, digging and seeding.
Dixie was my rock during the tragic time of my dad’s death. She allowed me to hold her and sob into her fur many nights as I grieved my loss.
Dixie was there for the parties. We had New Year’s Eve parties with friends that we will never forget, and Dixie was always between Seth and me for the countdown, waiting for our kisses.
Dixie was around when we brought Calvin home the first time. Although it took a few weeks for her to warm up, she eventually became the pack leader and showed him the ropes. She taught him how to bark at squirrels and people passing by. She showed him how to always be excited for a walk and how to correctly beg for a treat. They even played together, a sight I never thought I would see.
Dixie was there for all of the family get togethers and holidays. She would always arrive and demand her treat, and once one had been given to her, she would be a really good girl for the rest of the night. She loved cuddling with her grandmas, grandpas, aunties and uncles.
Dixie was our child when we were away on vacation. She would always be in great care, either by Grammy Beth or Granny Melissa, but I would always miss her and ache to see her after a few days of being gone.
Dixie was a Daddy’s Girl. She loved Seth so much. If she could have had it her way, she would have laid on my pillow at night right next to Seth, while I laid on the floor in her bed. Sometimes, I think she was a little envious of me.
Dixie was there when we found out we were going to be parents. She agreed to help us announce the news to our families and we tied a ribbon around her neck with a small sign that read, “Big Sister”.
She was there when we lost our baby too, and she helped me grieve again.
Dixie has been there for us when we have needed her most. We weren’t ready to say goodbye to her yet. Our life had only just begun. But the sad thing about animals, is that they don’t get to stick around as long as we would like them to. We only get a few short years until we are forced to say goodbye. And in those few short years, they make a huge impact on us. They may even change us a little and make us better people.
I have never seen my husband in such grief. What they say is true: a man’s best friend is his dog. And Dixie had his heart.
To all those who have lost an animal before-it is never easy. I know that time will help heal, but you will always remember the way they made you feel. You will always remember the sounds of their paws on the wood floor and the smell of their fur after a night’s sleep. You will always remember the softness of their skin and the feeling of their wet nose when it rubbed against your face.
To our Doody Head, Dixie, Girly Whirly: We love you and will always love you so much. You were our first baby and our first doggy, and we will never forget the way you made us feel. Thank you for being so good to us. We will see you again someday.
I had trouble weeding through the thousands of pictures I have of her. It’s true you take a million pictures of your first child. As a tribute to our baby, here are some of my favorites.