Dixie came into my life nine years ago around this time. I actually think she was born at the beginning of June in 2000. I thought Dixie was a wonderful idea as, at the time, my eldest brother was expecting his first child and I didn't know how I would possibly wait for that little baby to be born.
Dixie was a wonderful distraction.
My middle brother named her just before he left for Basic Training and although I was angry that my names had been rejected by all, I thought it was quite fitting. I am still irritated that my dog was named after an eighteen year old's crush on Natalie Maines, but it has grown on me after all this time. (And I don't know which of the Dixie Chicks my brother actually had a crush on, or if there even was a crush at all, but this is my strong suspicion.)
Dixie has been through many trials and tribulations in her beagle-y little life. We once lost track of her on the farm and couldn't find her for hours, until we heard an odd howling. And when we followed the sound it turned out that she was stuck in a culvert, having chased some critter or other and could not make it out the other side.
She's been afflicted with bladder stones her entire life and in the winter of 2007 she required fifteen hundred dollars worth of surgery. In Deer Season 2006 Dixie chased a deer to a town over an hour away until she landed in a hunt camp, exhausted and begging for sandwiches from the hunting party she happened upon. SHe was gone for four days and they were horrible, horrible days for me.
Most recently Dixie's antics involve hassling one of my neighbors. She goes to his house with great regularity and the last several times I've shown up to say hello, I am greeted by my own dog. My neighbor refuses to feed her or allow her in the house, but she has made herself quite at home in his porch and enjoys hunting various small game on his property.
Dixie is my cuddle buddy. Every time she curls up on the couch with me, snuggling her petite frame into whatever space she can cram herself into, I think of what a worthwhile friend she has been over the last several years.
Dixie is starting to act and look old. She still howls at me when I come home, bounding with glee to where I am so we can spend several minutes fawning over each other. Its like every time I come home, she is shocked that I have returned and must then show her gratitude by howling and licking. It is a nice little ritual that we have going on.
I don't like the looks of Dixie lately. She seems sore, tired, old. I don't want her to be so. SHe is only nine, and may have a good long period of time left with us, but I really just don't like how she looks a little rough around the edges lately.
I don't understand how an animal can come into a person's life as a novelty and then worm it's way into her heart and stay there permanently. I suppose that no matter what the future holds, Dixie will be a large number of fond memories and happy naps.
But that doesn't mean that the fact that I must let go at some point will be any easier. I'm hoping now that this point will come much later rather than sooner.