07 June, 2012

{this memory} 54

This is the story behind last Monday's {this moment}.

You're in New York - in my living room around 1977 or so. This is Dixie. You met Miss Bo Jangles last month in {this memory} 50. Now it's Dixie's turn.

Dixie was with me from 1972 to 1989. A very long time. She was a mutt (probably some cocker and some small terrier) I selected from the shelter in Virginia Beach - because she stuck her paw through the bars at me. She was quite small then. I could hold her almost entirely in the palm of my hand. She grew up to weigh about 20 pounds.

She was my first dog actually - although I named her after the family dog of my infancy. That Dixie, of course, I have no memory of whatsoever. I did have a stray puppy briefly in my early teens, but my parents didn't let me keep him. I never knew why.

So Dixie was my first, and I loved this dog. She was with me through graduate school in Maine and went on dozens of camping and cross country skiing excursions. She moved with me to my first home in New York. And the second home a year later where she had three acres to run around in. And a third home when I moved into the dorms over the summer while I started construction on this house. And a fourth home when construction stretched out. And, of course, she moved into my present home.

Sometime in the early summer of 1989 she disappeared. We called her and looked for her everywhere. We visited the dog shelter here, and I called the animal control warden for my town. Nothing.

Nothing but sadness - compounded by the fact that all four of us were scheduled to go to Italy in early July, which we did. A couple of weeks after we returned, I received a call from the warden who had put two and two together. Neighbors down at the bottom of our hill had reported finding a dead dog in a remote part of their yard while we were gone. No one knows for sure, but I'm guessing she just died suddenly while happily running or exploring. She was 17 years old after all.

I loved watching her run with that tail waving high in the air like those flags they put on tricycles so you know where they are - at least while she could. She was hit by a car once just hard enough to injure her tail so that she could no longer hold it aloft. It didn't slow her down a bit.

I still miss her. A lot. She would get into my oversized chair with me and nestle between my right leg and the right arm of the chair. We watched a lot of TV together. Graded a lot of papers too, I suppose. And she helped me through some dark days.

So ... ever have one of those pets in particular who will be with you forever? For me, that's Dixie. It's an unconditional thing.

So many wonderful memories - I am a fortunate man.

The photo was taken on Kodachrome 64 (slide) film with a Canon FTb. 
Settings: long ago forgotten.