From the moment I saw him. It was love at first sight. I like to think on both our parts.
July 1st, 2012. It was swelteringly hot.
It was the first time the Sidekick and I met. He was driving up to Kelowna to pick up his newly adopted dog and I decided to go along for the ride because ... well, I love a good adventure and apparently had disregarded all those 'stranger danger' lessons I sat through in elementary school.
The road trip was awkward. Uncomfortable. The conversation oddly one-sided. At least on the ride back I had someone to talk to, Dixon. The dog. By the time I was dropped off at my house, I was sure I'd never hear from the Sidekick again, which was really sad, because I loved his dog. I even covertly snapped a blurry picture when our driver stopped for gas.
So, yesterday was a terrible day. Dixon's diagnosis was confirmed. Cancer. Lymphoma. It's not a curable cancer. He's dying. And that sucks. Big time. Because Dixon is not only a big dummy. He's not just our family dog. He's my best buddy. He's my friend. My shadow. He fills every room he is in. And he isn't just a big presence because he's doofy and clumsy and snores like a fright train coming down the tracks. He's a big presence because he takes up every inch of my heart.
We spend a lot of time together, Dixon and I.
Over the years, we have adventured and explored a vast majority of the island together. If you see me out walking, it's a guarantee it's probably with Dixon in tow. I can't say for certain how many miles we've gone but suffice to say it's far. And the things we've seen and done - you wouldn't even believe it if I told you. He's rolled in rotting fish and deer, he's stood on a dead sea lion, and he's fetched a dildo out of a creek bed. He's been afraid of bridges, benches, and birds. We've found many buried treasures and witnessed breathtaking sunsets. We've climbed mountains, waded through rivers, swam in the ocean, slept on the ground, rolled in the grass, been drenched in the rain, clomped through snow, slipped on ice, and been spooked by random noises in the woods.
As much fun as Dixon has been, he's also been a world of heartache. From allergies to hematomas and everything in between, this guy has had me worrying from the word go. There was the inexplicable head tremors he experienced a couple years ago that had me laying awake at night just holding him tight. And let's not forget the ruptured ligament from six months ago that had him limping for half a year. There was the swollen mouth from a bee sting, a bug bite on his tail that made it swell up like a balloon, the chewing of the paws so the pads came off, and the constant scratching from allergies. Every time I turned around he was wounded somehow. It was almost as if he didn't know how to be healthy. When he was doing good, something inevitably would go wrong. He honestly is like an accident waiting to happen.
Even worse, he's destroyed so much. He literally chewed his way out of his crate! A metal crate! He's chewed Ray Bans, hats, doorknobs, shoes, Tupperware, and anything else he can get his mouth on. He chewed through doors people. Two of them. Right through two doors! Let's also factor in all the things he's eaten, like a tub of margarine, which he promptly puked up ... not in one go, of course, but in seventeen uniquely greasy piles. He's devoured loaves of bread and cookies and a bowl full of chocolate one Christmas. Just tonight he tried to sneak one of the Sidekick's cookies off the coffee table. He is a vacuum. A very sweet and lovely vacuum.
The memories are aplenty. I find myself reminiscing these days and my heart is so very heavy because I just can't even imagine what life will be like without his paws dragging on the floor, without his puppy dreams, without his whining at the door, without his zooming around after a poop, without his cold wet nose, without his tongue lapping up my bath, without his mooching, without his pulling on the leash, without his stepping on my feet, without him laying behind me while I cook, without his cleaning food off the floor, without his nose prints on the glass. Without his everything.
It's hard to focus on now and not dread what's to come. But I am determined and dedicated to making the rest of his life absolutely wonderful. I want him to have fun. Each and every day, I want to do something nice for him.More than anything, I want him to know he's loved. To feel loved.
Today is National Puppy Day. I never knew Dixon as a puppy. Sure, he's my puppers, but I never knew him as a little wee one because he was over a year old when we rescued him. Still, I celebrate him today. I celebrate the life we've lived and the life we are going to continue to lead. Above all, I celebrate the fact that we have time. Time to snuggle and kiss and walk and play. Time for me to bury my face in the meaty folds of his neck and weep. I don't know how much time, but if it's a day, I am thankful. If it's a week, I am grateful. And maybe we will get lucky and it will be months. Or even a year.
So, I have wrote out Dixon's To-Do List and each day we will tackle a couple things he loves to do. If you'd like to follow along and get to know this amazing guy a little better, you can do so on Dixon's Super Awesome Instagram Account. And if you don't have a dog and you are thinking about getting one. Don't. They are just heartbreak covered in fur.
Obviously, you shouldn't listen to me and you should go adopt and rescue a puppers ASAP.