My post of this on my other board has had a lot of people appreciate it, so I figured I'd cross post it here.
Trixiebelle Charro McDyke 2001 - 2013
I never really wanted a dog to begin with. My parents had two different dogs when I was growing up, and I never felt that much of a connection when I lived with them. Some years after I moved out of their house, they put the second one down, I felt a small twinge of sorrow, but I can't say I was really upset.
In 2001, I had been married for a year, and had a 9-year old stepson, and I can't say that getting a dog was really a priority, but Trixie was a 9/11 baby.
While there's usually an abundance of births 9 months after important events, Trixie was born that summer and adopted by my wife at the time shortly after 9/11.
Normally I'd say WE adopted her, but I didn't really want a dog, much less a Chihuahua. We lived in a small 2-bedroom condo and in these post-Taco Bell, post-Legally Blonde world, my wife wanted a Chihuahua. I felt we should wait and get a "real dog".
Well, shortly after 9/11, one of my best friend's from high school had a bachelor party in Las Vegas. I'm sure partially as punishment for lap dances rendered, I came home to find out we got a Chihuahua.
I'm not sure if I was in love when I first saw her, but I picked her up first thing, and she showered my face with kisses. I was sold at that point.
Those first couple of nights, we put her in a crate at night. Like a new baby, we were worried about her getting hurt. (She was so small when we first got her that she was able to stand up, pretty much just on my palm). Once the lights went out, she would offer up her now trademarked pitiful whine. We didn’t hold out long. We put her in a doggie bed on the headboard.
Unfortunately, within six months, she developed a health problem. It seems Trixie was probably a puppy mill dog, who was weaned from her mother too soon. As her hip was developing, it was jagged. She was going to need expensive surgery. We had no other option, and we scheduled hip surgery for her at the local vets office.
I don't know what I was expecting her surgery would be like. I remember the original plan was that I was going to pick her up and drop her off at home where she'd be alone for five or six hours before my wife got home. When I picked her up, I just about burst out crying. She looked horrible, and could barely move. At the time I was working at the local music and movie store (which I would wind up buying 6 months later), so I think that was when I made a decision that would change my life: I would bring her to work with me.
For seven years trixie came to work with me almost every day. She became the mascot of my store (luckily named Dog Ear), she greeted customers with either a bark or a wag. She was extraordinarily friendly to almost everyone that came in. She sat in a little dog bed on the counter and watched over everything. Her ears would perk up when the door would open. And if I got too far away, she would start to get nervous.
Daytimes at the store were pretty slow, and while every store has regulars that would come in, we ended up getting regular DOGS that would come in. My favorite was the period that an Italian Greyhound would come in regularly. While the Greyhound was obviously many times faster than Trixie, she would still run full out as long as she could trying to catch her.
Other days, there were no visitors, so I would try to take her down and play fetch in the store. She had a big round pink pig that made oinking noises when I pressed a button inside. She would go through them because she would clamp down on it and try to kill it instead of giving it back. We dubbed her Tenacious T.
During this time she solidly became my dog. Besides coming to work with me, I think her favorite thing was sitting down to watch TV. I would lay a couple pillows in the corner of the couch and she would plop herself down, nuzzle her head into the pillows. I would sit next to her and put my arm over her. She would fall fast asleep.
Unfortunately health problem came up again. You see, Trixie was not like other Chihuahua's. She did not shake when she saw people. She didn't yip at people on walks. As it turns out, these were probably side effects of the disease she had, Addison's Disease.
It took a long time (and a lot of money) to get her Addison's Disease diagnosed. It's a very confusing disease that acts in different ways at different times. In Trixie's case, symptoms started showing up six months before I tearfully took her to the local animal hospital on Saturday night. (Trixie never wanted to get sick during office hours, she had a thing for paying double.) There we finally got someone who put all the pieces together.
Thankfully, the meds for Addison's were cheap and easy. For a while she had to take half a pill and a squirt of liquid every day. It was measured out by the dog's weight, so I think it was like $.50 a day. Thankfully she wasn't a 100 pound dog. After running into some trouble spots (more vet appointments, because the Addison's would start manifesting itself in a different way), she eventually needed a once a month shot and a squirt of liquid a day.
You would hardly know Trixie was sick, her favorite thing was still walks, and later in life, jogging and running. We lived on a nice lake with a walking path, and I would go out with her often, going around the lake. We had a sled hill right by us, and we would usually walk to the hill and then run up it. We'd sit sometimes and look out over the lake.
In 2008, my life started to crumble down. I ended up closing my store. In 2010 I became separated from my wife, and my step-son moved for college. The 8 months I spent single, Trixie became the one thing from my old life that I still had. Sometimes I felt like she was all I had going for me.
In December of 2010, I met my girlfriend. She was also not a dog person, just like me all those years ago. They had a shakey start. Trixie always slept on my headboard, and it took some getting used to for her to "have a dog in the bed". The first time she came over to my place, Trixie bit her during an intimate moment.
In March, I moved in with her, and I think Trixie felt pretty lucky. For starters, she had a real house. Three levels of stairs to run up and down. Couches she could sit on the back of. And best of all, a real backyard. After moving, she hardly wore a leash any more. She loved the backyard. She loved to sniff the flowers that bloomed there. Since there was an above ground pool installed, she even got to be a pretty good swimmer, even though she preferred to sit on top of a bed, on top of an inflatable.
A couple months after moving in, a bought a couple of speakers that my girlfriend could use in bed, and plug into her portable mp3 player. I set it up for her, and she came in, saw the speakers, saw Trixie sitting on the bed, head cocked like the RCA dog and said, "Are you the subwoofer?" It still makes me smile thinking about it, and occasionally she would call Trixie her subwoofer.
Not too long after that, we found out that my girlfriend was pregnant. It was basically the start of life 2.0 for me, but I've always been so happy that Trixie was coming with me. She was pretty patient, having a new baby running around. His favorite toy is a swiffer, and more than once he accidentally dropped it on her. She learned to be quick on her feet.
Trixie was a near endless source of entertainment for my son. Trixie loved food. Begged for food. Needed food. If he was holding food, she was probably jumping up and down, making noises, and he would giggle at her. Occasionally he would toss some food down to her.
Of course, never one to make things easy, Trixie became finicky in her old age. Turkey was her favorite thing, and then one day she just never wanted it again. You would be eating dinner and toss something down to her. She would get for more and when you gave it to her, she wouldn't want it.
10 weeks ago, I had a second baby, which is the last. My new family was complete. It's been a tough ride in a lot of ways, but Trixie was always a trooper. She was able to ignore and sleep through the cries of a newborn like no one else.
It’s a couple hours after writing everything previous, and I decided I’m going to write this like most things that are really important to me. Mostly in one sitting, without proofreading, etc. My dog is downstairs, and I still find it impossible to believe she’s dead. I’m sure that there’s 100 things I’ve forgotten, like how expressive her face was, how she would cock her head and listen when you would talk, how she would scratch at your hand to try to get you to pet her. She would NEVER get enough.
As my girlfriend and I lay here in bed, crying on and off about our dog, I feel like I have a couple things I can be happy about. Both Roger Ebert and a friend of mine’s mom died this month. Both of them had a long time of battling with cancer. They both kept their chins up, their spirits up, their humor up. I am, in some way, glad that Trixie never had to do that. She had a couple bouts with vomiting and diarrhea over the last couple of years but for the most part, she had almost 12 years of constant happiness. She was pampered, and doted on, and played with, and pet, and cuddled with just about as much as she could stand.
I doubt I’ll be able to sleep tonight, and I wonder about tomorrow night as well. I’ve had shockingly few nights away from Trixie. Maybe a dozen when I was dating for a while, a handful last year when I was out of town. And that’s about it. I’ve probably had 4,000 nights with Trixie, and I think I can honestly say I never took any of them for granted. Just about every night, the last thing I would do before bed it get her situated into whatever she was sleeping on, pat her on the head, or give her a scratch behind the ear, or even a kiss on the top of her head. I would generally tell her good night, but would sometimes tell her i love her.
I already miss her so much.
I'm not sure how I forgot this, except that it was 3am and I was exhausted: Trixie did get to be a working dog again. My girlfriend was a home nurse, and during that 6 months before we moved, Trixie liked to go to work with her. She dealt mostly with geriatric patients,mostly disabled, and I'm sure most people already know how much sick people like animals. Her patients loved Trixie, and would even complain on days that she didn't bring her with her. One day, after helping patients, my girlfriend couldn't find her. She ran all around the place, calling her name. Eventually she discovered that Trixie had discovered that someone had recently run the laundry, and Trixie had climbed up into the dryer to lay down in the warm towels. I swear that dog could get comfortable and fall asleep anywhere.
The meds she took for her Addison's were basically steroids. While we didn't have an official autopsy down, we're pretty sure that at 12 years old, the steroids finally caught up to her kidneys and they started shutting down.
It's hard to begrudge the fact that something that kept her alive so long finally killed her, but the way that she died was, to me, horrible, and probably a large part of what continues to haunt me today.
She had been sick, puking and diarrhea a bit, she was going up and down for a couple days (she was such a fighter). At one point, my girlfriend went to the room she was napping in, and she picked her head up and wagged her tail.
We went to another room for about an hour and I came back to see black stool all over her bed, she was also doing these kinda facial twitches, and I flipped out. Immediately called to find out what animal hospital was open. Got dressed and got her packed up and as I carried her out to the car, her lights basically went out.
I ran inside and my girlfriend (who is a nurse), gave her mouth to mouth and shot her with a human size pen of adrenaline (Addison's means you make no adrenaline). She came back for a second, but it was over.
If she was going into renal failure, there really wasn't a choice. I can't pay $2000/mo for dialasis, but I would have gladly paid $500 for one more week of fussing over her, taking her to her favorite old places that we used to go for 10 years. Places I visited right after taking her body to the vets anyway.
She ate like crazy, and I always thought that a youtube video where I sat her down on a table with a turkey bigger than her would immortalize her with over a million hits.
And then, I would have gladly taken her to the vets to be put down peacefully while we held her.
Instead, I can't help be feel like those final moments were filled with screaming, jostling, crying and even that one final pointless thump back to life.
It just makes me extra sad that a life filled with such joy ended that way.
I wrote this a couple of days later:
" 2nd day without a dog in the house. I'm totally fine as long as I don't eat food in the house (cause she'd be begging), go to sleep (cause I'd be tucking her in), wake up (cause I'd be letting her out to pee), come home (cause she'd be greeting me at the door), look down at the ground (where any of her 10 beds were), look to the right (where she often sat in a bed on the table next to me), or move from room to room (cause she would follow me wherever I went), but the absolute worst was leaving the house today for the first time. Normally she would stand at the other end of the kitchen, legs slightly apart, head cocked, as if this was a standoff in a classic western. "Are you really leaving me here? With all these cats? And you haven't even given me a treat." I would reach in the bowl by the door and toss her a treat. She would happily trot off with the treat and let me leave.
I sat there for a couple minutes, staring at the doorway, picturing exactly where she would stand, and while it's probably the most pointless thing I've ever done, I threw a cookie out and closed the door."
All the firsts have been so hard. Even yesterday, when I took the trash out to the curb. She would always follow me.
Luckily, in 12 hours, I hit a train, and then a bus, and spend 4 days at the Nashville Film Festival. It'll be filled with wonderful food, fantastic company and lots of films. All in a location where everything I do doesn't remind me of her. I'm hoping I come back a little refreshed, my nerves a little less exposed, maybe one step away from the horrible, but able to keep all that joy close to my heart.
For the most part, when I think of the rest of our lives without her, and the hole that she's left in our lives here, I get a frown. I get sad. I sigh heavily, and walk a little slower up or down the stairs.
But when I think of that night, and her final moments, I still start balling like a baby.
It's been almost 8 months since our boy died. I want to say it gets easier, but it's really only just a tiny bit, even after all this time.
The last week of December we got a new dog, because the house was just so empty after Sully died. Dot is a wonderful girl, full of energy, kind, always trying to make you happy. We love her, but she's still just a dog to us at this point, which sounds really bad, but I think it's because Sully was just so much more vulnerable than Dot is. He was scared of everything [papers rustling on a table!], where Dot isn't scared of anything.
Mander will always be our little boy, but now we have the equivalent of a teenager, so hopefully discovering everything through her eyes will help us move on.
"Tattoos are the mullets of the aughts." - Mike Naimark
"Don't stop after beating the swords into ploughshares, don't stop! Go on beating and make musical instruments out of them. Whoever wants to make war again will have to turn them into ploughshares first" - Yehuda Amichai