Dixie, a dog's life | Dogs

Dixie, a dog’s life

It was over 15 years ago and our family was not looking for a dog.
We had just put down our first family dog, Buttons, on my daughter’s fifth birthday.  We managed to change plans for her birthday and she went to sleep over at a friend’s house that night, but she knew enough to say goodbye to her.  She was the neighborhood dog and everyone knew her name and petted her and we were grieving the loss of a family member.
So it was a few weeks after that when we were out and about in the Southern suburbs.  We stopped at a Petco when we saw a sign that there were rescue dogs up for adoption.  My wife did not want another dog so soon after putting down our first dog, but I and our kids out-voted her and we went to look at what they had.  We are Lab people.  We like the breed and we like big dogs.  The purebred lab puppies they had were all spoken for, and in fact every dog there was spoken for except for one.  Erica.
Erica was a skinny little mix breed, part black Lab, part mutt.  She looked like a black lab but had four white paws and the tip of her tail was white.  She weighed about 35 pounds and we were told she would get to be about 40.  Her age was unknown but they guessed she was between one and two years.  The “person” who owned her beat her.  She was abused so bad that when they spayed her they discovered that all of her internal organs were bruised.  She was skittish of people.  She really did not like men.  When we walked with her she pulled hard and wanted to run.  As I said, we were not really looking for a dog.
So we took her home.  We renamed her Dixie because no dog should have to go through life with a name that could be associated with beatings.  For the first two weeks we owned her every time I walked into the same room she was in, she ran away and into another room.  She bonded with my wife and she liked the kids but there was no doubt she was my wife’s dog.
We were told Dixie was potty trained but when we got her she peed and pooped all over our house.  As my wife was picking it up she saw there were worms in her poop and we later learned that worms make you feel like you have to go to the bathroom all the time.  Once we got her the right pills that cleared up and she never had an accident in the house again.  She was a smart dog.
She also grew.  She grew big and strong getting fed regular meals and getting the worms out of her system.  She made it up to 74 pounds and for the past couple of years she maintained a sleek 59 pounds.  She looked the size and shape of a Lab.  She also liked to run and she was fast.  When she escaped from us the neighbors would call with sightings because she would not go up to any other human except those in our family.  One night she ran away and we could not find her.  The next morning our neighbor three doors down called to say she was laying by their patio door on that freezing winter morning.
Our neighbor across the street loves animals and she would always try to get Dixie to come to her by bribing her with a hot dog.  She never took the bait.  Two years ago when they adopted their first dog Moose, then a light switch went off in Dixie’s mind and she decided that our neighbor was alright.  From that point on she went up to her all the time for treats and love and belly rubs.  Our neighbor called her Princess.
A year later our neighbors adopted another puppy and named him Caribou.  Caribou loved Dixie.  He loved her.  He always licked and kissed her and greeted her with excited yelps and barks and was basically a pain in the butt to her.  But Dixie seemed to enjoy the attention and would sit there and take it and they soon had a May-December romance brewing.  Dixie loved Bart, though.  Bart was her first dog friend and a big beast of a lab weighing in at 95 pounds.  Dixie could spot Bart from blocks away and when she got older, if she saw Bart walking home with her master, she would follow them down the street until we called her back.
Two years ago another dog was given to us to rescue and she accepted Shadow into our home.  She was the queen, though, and she knew it.  She was the first to get treats, she always got an extra treat from Julie our neighbor, and her face and muzzle had turned all gray.  She was at a point in her life when she would go up to strangers at the dog park and ask to be petted or she would go to them if they called her.  She had finally after a decade or more, come out of her shell and was not afraid.
Three days ago we were all at the dog park again and she did her usual routine.  She went exploring in the woods, sniffed every bush in the park, greeted all the dogs that came into the park, especially the Labs, and she was happy to be outside and in her element.  She was in great shape for an old gal and we went to the park almost every day.  When it was time to go she did her usual routine and pretended like she could not hear very well and she would walk in the opposite direction.  Hey Dixie, if we say it is time to go home and you turn and walk the other way, we know you can hear us.
Yesterday I sensed that it may be her last day.  Her legs all of a sudden started to go out on her.  I walked with her down the stairs and for the first time she fell a stair before I caught her.  I carried her down the stairs and to her food and she did not want to eat and could not get up or stand.  My wife was at work.  She seemed comfortable and I was hoping she would take a nap and not wake up.  Alas.
I went over to the neighbors and watched the Green Bay game.  I came home and she was on the floor, this time a few feet from the soft carpet I had put her on that day.  She moved to our wood floor because she had an accident in the house and I could tell she felt bad about it.  After picking up the poop I told her it was OK and I laid next to her and cried like a baby.  I told her I loved her, she was a great dog, etc.  I then got up and called the vet whose voicemail referred me to a 24 hour emergency vet.  I called my neighbors and then my wife came home with dinner.  She too laid next to her baby and cried and petted her and told her she was a great girl.
I called my kids to tell them the news.  If she had only made it to the end of this week they could have seen her one more time.  I wish that it would have been so, but it was not.  I called them and they said goodbye to her over the phone as I held the phone to her ear.  They said later that I freaked them out because they had never heard me cry.  I cried like a baby that night.
The neighbors got home from wherever they were at and they came over to say goodbye too.  Caribou, for the first time ever, did not walk up to her and smother her with love.  I think he sensed she was sick.  There was crying and petting and of course Julie brought over treats, this time every single one was for Dixie.  She decided she could and would eat treats.  We took pictures and cried and said goodbyes, and then they left to make the long drive to the vet and to put her down.
I picked my baby up and brought her to the car.  I told my wife to drive through McDonald’s and bought her one of her favorite treats, a plain hamburger.  She knew where we were at because her tail was beating a happy tune.  She ate that hamburger like a pro.  We then went to the vet and for the first time ever, she did not shake like Barney Fife when she was brought into the vet.  She knew we would not hurt her and she knew it was going to be OK.
She was wheeled in on a gurney with held her head high panting and smiling and looking like the queen she was.  She was taken to the back room and they put a line in her vein and then she was wheeled to a room where my wife and I sat.  She still looked regal.  We smothered her with love and affection and told her what a difference she made in our lives.  The vet came in, explained it to us even though we had been here before, and she then administered the cocktail.  Dixie just laid her head down like she was going to take a nap.  There was no deep sigh, no bowel evacuations or any other thing we were told might happen.  She just went to sleep and died peacefully and not in pain.
I am going to miss her in ways I can’t put into words.  As I type this I am crying.  There is a hole in our house, a hole in our hearts and only time will make it better.  When we get her ashes we are going to spread them in the wetlands in our backyard where Buttons went to rest.  The neighbors will be there along with their dogs and I am going to buy them a big pint of soft-serve yogurt for them to celebrate a life well lived.
She had the worst start any animal could have in life but then she had a hell of a run.  She was with us for 15 years, a long time for an old Lab, and it still feels like she was taken too soon.  I hope we did right by her and I will miss her for the rest of my life.
RIP Dixie.  ?-2000 or 2001 to 12-13-2015.  I love you very much.
P.S.  Two months have passed since we put Dixie down.  We did indeed get her ashes back and we did indeed invite the neighbor and their dogs over for a celebration of her life.  We all had vanilla frozen yogurt and before we spread her ashes we all said some words for our girl.
The first few weeks after she was gone were tough.  I would look at the couch, her spot, and she was not there.  I bought my wife a big painting/picture of her and the other dogs I had made at Costco.  When we passed that picture we would feel sad.  The other dog was confused when she got to eat out of the Queen’s bowls, but she figured that out after a couple of days.
As time passes the memories are all happy.  She was a great dog, she had a great life, and I hope like hell there is a dog heaven so she would be there running and playing and enjoying her spiritual journey.  This was written for Dixie.  It would be hard to find a better dog.

Odds and Ends

I am calling this post: Odds and Ends

There is no overlying theme today.  There is no specific rant or rave or anything I am praising or disparaging.  It is going to be like a Larry King article, odds and ends, and I hope it is infinitely more interesting.

My son is home from college and brought along a friend from Cyprus.  I thought Cyprus was a part of Greece but it is its own free standing island nation.  It is located closer to Turkey and Syria than to Greece.  It is near Israel and Lebanon but hopefully the ocean is a big enough space for them to keep out of the crap going on in the Middle East.  They speak Greek, our guest looks Greek, and he is going to be going to a Thanksgiving celebration with 30 of our family members.

We are not hosting Thanksgiving but we will be hosting Christmas.  I told my wife that I would paint our dining room.  I have hated the color for five or six years and I want to paint it before we put in new flooring.  That way I can mess up the place and not have to worry too much about splashing.  My wife and I picked out a color but she wants me to do a pattern on it.  I don’t think it will be too hard but she likes to see me work harder than I have to.  Just kidding, her judgement is solid and I know it will look fantastic once I am done with it.  You know the best part?  I get to take down some old wallpaper edging!  I love doing that job.

We got a new TV and broached the world of UHDTV.  It is supposed to be twice as sharp as regular high definition TV but there is really no programming to go with it so who knows?  I bought a Samsung even though I hate that they use the TV to spy on us.  There is no opting out of the user agreement because you have to be in so that you may work the TV.  We got it for out bedroom because the old TV was small and it was not fun to watch TV up there.  Now we have a TV on steroids and the picture is incredible and the TV is a piece of artwork.  I am excited about it.

Other odds and ends

Winter is coming in Minnesota.  I have winterized the lawn mower and readied the snow blower and I am simply waiting for a big storm to come and hit us.  Iowa was pounded last week but we missed it.  In fact it is going to be 40 degrees today which really feels like a fall day.  I like when the weather is warmer, and no, I do not believe in global warming.

My wife has to go in for a colonoscopy tomorrow.  I am lucky in that I have already had that procedure.  It is painless except for the prep work.  By the time you are done cleansing your intestines, your butt is rubbed raw from even the smoothest of toilet papers.  The only advice I gave her was use a gentle touch when wiping.  Other than that she is on her own.

My daughter is supposed to show up Wednesday.  The poor cats.  They are going to get smothered with love.  She loves anything with a fury face.  She has been missing them so bad that she has a cat friend on campus who she goes and visits three times a week.  That cat does not like to be held so she still is missing the hugs and kisses you can give them.  For the next three days they will be smothered with hugs and loves and kisses.  I tried to warn them but they looked at me with indifference.

We are dog sitting tomorrow.  We already have two dogs but this one is a puppy and had high energy.  His name is Nikkon and he is as smart as can be.  He is also hyper and he bugs the hell out of the cats.  Maybe after Nikkon the cats will not mind my daughter attacking them.  There is usually an hour or so of getting to know the level of the pack and then the dogs get along swimmingly.

That is all.  A nice short odds and ends column.

Super Bowl Sunday

It is Super Bowl Sunday and the masses are getting ready to watch some football.

The amazing thing about the Super Bowl is that the game is always way more boring than the hype.  The hype is so high that almost anything would be impossible to live up to it.  the people in this country almost treat it like it is a national holiday.  People go out and buy big TVs and then they have parties with a lot of food.  The commercials are always top-notch and it is like their debutant ball.  Life is good on Super Bowl Sunday.

I am doing absolutely nothing this Super Bowl Sunday.  I am staying home to watch the game.  It is going to be a peaceful day.  I already took my dog for a run and she is on the couch sleeping like a baby.  The kids are excited because we are going to have nachos tonight.  They love nachos.  The Super Bowl means nothing to my daughter and almost nothing to my son.  If the Packers were in the game it would mean a lot more to my wife and I.

The Super Bowl means spring is on it’s way.

We love the Super Bowl because it means that spring is almost here.  We have had such a mild winter that it hardly seems fair that it is already ending.  There has been so little snow I only had to take out the snow blower once this year.  Spring is fantastic in this state because the weather turns and things get green.  The Super Bowl is a harbinger of spring.

The Super bowl also means no more football for six months.  Viking fans should already start saying, “there’s always next year” because they epically fail every year.  It is fun to watch their hopes rise and then they are so defeated about four games into the season.  There is not a chance in hell they are ever going to go to the Super Bowl unless they bought tickets.  But like everything else, hope springs eternal.

The Super Bowl means hello Baseball!

Even though Football is all about today but tomorrow brings baseball.  The baseball season is long and warm.  We too have hope but it is not as misguided as the Viking fan’s hope.  The players meet in Florida and we look forward to summer and the season.  The Super Bowl will be another distant and foggy memory.

I have a head cold that is pounding my ass

I have had a head cold for the past few days that has been pounding on my ass.

When I go to bed at night the sinus pressure was almost unbearable.  Last night I broke down and swallowed the horrible tasting night-time-so-you-can-sleep-medicine.  It tastes like cherry ass.  I chugged it down and gagged a little bit, but low and behold the stuff worked it’s magic and I fell asleep without having my mouth have to be open like a beached carp.  I am such a pretty picture.

This cold snuck up on me.  I have heard through Facebook that some of my friends have it too, and it lingers.  This is day three today of this cold and I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a Mack truck.  The rest of my body feels weak and weary and I have no gumption.  I used to have gumption.

The other thing about getting a cold…

I have weird dreams.  I think it is because I have a hard time sleeping because of the breathing thing and that in turn fires off synapses in my brain that are not usually triggered.  Last night I dreamt that I was at a construction site which was my grandma’s old house, and I was talking to an old co-worker named Todd.  Him and I were standing around and bullshitting while President Obama was at the electrical panel and he was trying to hook up some new circuit breakers.  The President was bullshitting with us and he was wearing a hard hat.  I had to go to the bathroom so I went to my grandma’s bathroom and I got a fantastic feeling like going home again.  When I went in the room, though, the toilet was pulled and there was only a hole in the floor.

I don’t know if it was the cold or the cold medicine, but I know I had a vivid dream the past two nights as well.  I think it is because you sleep so hard and rough, and yet not really sleep, so that when you dream it is very easy to wake up and then remember the dream.  I also slept in late today and when my son woke me at 6:15 I felt as if I had run into a wall.

Men do not like getting a cold or getting sick.

We are pussies.  We crumble.  We want our mommies and to have a blankie and curl up in a ball and try to keep warm.  We do not like seeing doctors because even when you do go for a problem you know you have, it does not seem to get fixed.  We like our wives or girlfriends fawning over us, getting us our drinks and meals.  We like to be pampered.  A cold brings out the worst in men.

Women suck it up.  I do not know how or why they do it but they all do it.  I think it is a genetic thing.  My daughter had strep a couple of weeks ago and I have never seen a kid so sick.  For one night her fever spiked, even though she was on Tylenol, and she was cold and clammy and hot all at the same time.  She slept almost 20 out of the 24 hours.  She is a tough chick when it comes to being sick and this made her crumble.  And when it is your kid you would do anything to take their place.

So even though I have a cold I will be a warrior and trudge on.  I will get through it.  I will take a nap, but I will get through it.  Maybe men like to get a cold because they can take a nap without any guilt.  Viva la cold.

New Years Eve

New Years Eve is coming up and the older I get the less I care.

I have never really liked New Years Eve.  I never liked drinking with people who only drink on New Years Eve and then get in their cars and drive.  When I go out I am usually the designated driver and the rest of them scare the living shit out of me.

I also do not like the social game people play.  How can grown adults act like high school almost every day they are alive.  You see it all the time, from underlings kissing the CEO’s ass, to neighbor putting up false pretenses to others around them.  When New Years Eve rolls around all of these people tend to gather in mass and the amount of shmaltz in the room, any room, could create a nuclear reaction.

Sometimes I stay up and watch TV but that gets old too.  Who wants to watch a bunch of drunk people making asses out of themselves on New Years Eve?  People are not fun to watch when they are drunk.  Considering that about 50% of the population is absolutely stupid you have a volatile mixture.  I hat the glitter glasses that will scream out “20” over the left eye and “12” over the right eye.  I do not want to see party hats.  What the fuck are you, 12?  I do not want to see blowers and I do not want to hear horns.  I guess I am a curmudgeon when it comes to this day.

New Years Eve is also when they wheel out Dick Clark

Dick Clark has been around since the 1956 hosting American Bandstand.  For years he had the gift of looking younger than his age.  A few years ago, maybe 10 or so, he had a stroke.  He missed the year he had a stroke but he has come back to co-host the show.  It is utterly sad.  He has a hard time with his words and kissing his wife at midnight can break the strongest man’s heart.  I think it is time for him to retire.

When I was growing up Guy Lombardi was the go-to guy on New Years Eve.  He was a big band leader and he was on TV until about 1974.  He always played “Auld Lang Syne.”  What in the living hell does that even mean?  According to Wikipedia it means “old long since” or more accurately “long, long ago.”  You can go to Wikipedia to see the history of the song.  The Scottish version is actually very nice when I read it but does anyone on earth, except for the people reading this now, really know what it means?  It has turned into pap.

My New Years Eve will be spent sleeping.

I usually fall asleep by midnight and I expect tomorrow night to be no different.  I do not plan on watching any New Years Eve celebrations on TV.  The funniest part is that we see New Years Eve live in New York, but here in the Midwest it is only 11:00 PM.  We then get an hour of drunken coverage and then at Midnight they replay the dropping of the lighted ball in Times Square.  thus, we get the appearance of really rocking in the New Year on New Years Eve.

My kids will stay up because they get hyper when the New Year comes.  I do not.  I used to when I was a kid but I think it was a function that I rarely got to stay up until midnight.  I will absolutely stay off the roads.  I will get up the next day and have a hard time writing 2012 in the checkbook.  I know that I am a living anachronism by mentioning a checkbook, but there it is.  I will be another year older and another year wiser.

So even though I humbug the idea of New Years Eve, I want everyone who does enjoy it to go out and have fun.  Do not drive drunk, get a driver.  Taxi’s are cheap compared to killing someone or yourself.  Happy new Years Eve.

Waking up to a screaming smoke detectors

Waking up to a screaming smoke detectors at 3:39 AM is NOT the way you want to start a Friday morning.

This morning, before the sun was in the sky and before any other human being on our block was awake, the smoke detectors went off in our house.  We have a newer house so all the smoke detectors are interconnected with electricity, meaning if one goes off they all go off.  They also run on battery back-up so if the electric goes out you are still protected from fires.  A very neat feature.

Unfortunately when there is a false alarm it sets off all the smoke detectors in the house and suddenly everyone is awake and mom and dad are running around.  We checked for a fire but there was not one, thank God.  I then went around to each smoke detector to see if pushing the button would have any effect on the screaming alarms.  It did not.

By now the smoke detectors have been ringing for about 10 minutes.

The kids are awake and pacing, the dog looks like she is about to have a stroke because she gets nervous.  She is following me around the house panting and shaking and acting like Barney Fife when he is confronted by a criminal with a gun.  The cats are having fun because it is the middle of the night and they like the middle of the night. The kids are grumpy and dad is right there with them.

I then went around and I replaced the 9 volt battery in all the smoke detectors.  All nine of them.  That seemed to quell the noise around us and the kids trudged off to their rooms and my wife and the dog came to our room and the dog slept on the bed.  About ten minutes later one of the alarms started to chirp.  I got up and my daughter called me to her room and told me it was her alarm that was going off.  I disconnected that alarm and I tried to go back to sleep.  I could not.

The smoke detectors screamed for about 15 minutes before we got them all shut off.

This morning I went to Menards and I bought a new smoke detector.  I also bought a carbon monoxide detector because I needed one to pass inspection for my basement.  I got my things and this afternoon I tried to replace the smoke detector in my daughter’s room.  It did not fit the plug-in.  I bought the same brand, the same style, and the same everything that my other smoke detectors had and no luck, they changed designs on me.  I then cut power to the house and replaced the attachment wires and the plastic base that the connector hooks to on the ceiling.  The dog started panting and got nervous again because the power going out caused the alarm on my computer battery to chirp and she has issues.

A project that should never been initiated was completed about 12 hours after the smoke detectors first went off.  That is how I spent my Friday morning and afternoon battling the smoke detectors.