Saying Goodbye to My Four-Legged Child

The day I have dreaded for years arrived. For years, I have listened to friends or coworkers talk about their dogs passing away. Each time, my eyes would tear up, feeling sorrow for them and thinking about the day that I would have to say goodbye to my own little pal. Today was the day. Our sweet Trixie Belle is gone. My best friend. My firstborn child. My heart.

In our new house, shortly after moving in

Many tears have been shed today. My heart hurts. My head spins. Anyone who scoffs at losing a pet has never had a Trixie Belle. How do you say goodbye to such a loyal friend after nearly 15 years? I guess, as with any loss, the answer is in celebrating life. My Trixie Belle Cottontail lived a healthy and happy life for 14 and a half years. It was only until this past summer that her vision and hearing really started to fail. And only the last two weeks that her body started to fail. She has been staying at my parents’ house a great deal of the time recently as we dealt with the transition of adding a newborn to the mix. When my parents started taking her to the doctor for intense seizures and loss of coordination and appetite over the last few weeks, I asked God to make her suffering brief if this was really to be her time to go. I didn’t get to see her before she passed. My parents were planning on driving her here this afternoon. As it would be, Trixie’s time came this morning and we never got to say goodbye. I tell myself it is for the best since she was in very poor shape the past two weeks, and I am fortunate to remember her in her normal state. I am thankful for my sweet parents for doing all they could to keep her life going and to keep her as comfortable as possible. My parents loved and cared for her as much as we did.

Our family on vacation in Destin in the summer of 2013. 

This doggie stole my heart in August of 2000. I was graduating from college that week and moving to Louisiana for my first post-college newspaper job. An acquaintance gave me directions to the house of a family in the country who had another litter of puppies they were “trying to get rid of.”

As I knocked on the door of an old white trailer house in the country, a pomeranian on the front porch couldn’t decide if he wanted to yip or wag his tail at me. Inside, I was greeted by a chaotic scene as puppies wimpered, older dogs barked, kittens scrambled about, and a group of energetic boys climbed the furniture. The white “mama” dog was a pee-ka-poo (half pekingese and half poodle) and displayed all of the anxious and snippity characteristics of both. As I scanned over the litter of puppies, I was enamored with a little white fuzz ball who used her eyes to beg me to rescue her from her chaotic beginnings. Despite being the biggest of the bunch, she could still sit in my hand. While one boy carried a kitten by its tail through the living room, the mother of the home told me they just couldn’t understand how their dog kept getting pregnant. They thought the neighbor’s lab might be to blame. I held the puppy in my arms and took in the obvious pomeranian features of her face. How they could not link these puppies to their own pomeranian tied down on the front porch was beyond me.

The next week, Trixie Belle Cottontail and I headed to South Louisiana for our new adventure. I didn’t know a soul down there, but I had a new friend and roommate who kept me company during the otherwise lonely year I lived there. I still remember the weekend my parents helped me move down there. Trixie still didn’t have a name. How could I take something so important lightly? I needed time. How we had laughed as Trixie climbed into a small trash can after some discarded French fries. That puppy had a motor and she never stopped. She kept me on my toes that first year as I learned to keep all shoes, bras, and underwear out of her teethy grasp. I quickly learned she had expensive tastes and favored Victoria’s Secret undergarments and my most expensive shoes to the less costly things.

Old splotchy photo from our first days together in South Louisiana.

My little fuzz ball the day we moved to South Louisiana

The following year, she and I packed up and moved to Little Rock. My good friend, Emily, and I had decided to move in together. There were some definite entertaining moments as Trixie warmed up to the idea of a new roommate. She was used to being the one and only. After a few initial tense moments, the two became fast friends. Just don’t remind Emily of the time that Trixie dug up her freshly-planted petunias three times in a row. Yikes…that was a tense day! Trixie, skiddish and anxious around most people, never forgot her love for Emily. All these years later, Trixie still got excited when her Auntie Emily came over to visit.

I smile thinking about how she would force herself between The Hubs and me on the couch when we were dating and engaged. I flattered myself for a while thinking she was possessive of me before realizing she wanted to hog the attention from him. When I was pregnant with SB, my feelings were hurt as Trixie became even more of a Daddy’s girl, preferring his lap as my lap became less-and-less roomy.

After SB was born, I was proud of how well Trixie adapted and how gentle she was with the baby – something I had worried over given Trixie’s jealous nature and her high anxiety. Once SB became mobile, poor Trixie handled the torment well, often taking herself to a back bathroom for some peace and quiet. Occasionally, she could be caught tenderly pawing at SB to get her attention.

My favorite three Razorback fans

Always a great vacuum

Never kenneled in her whole life, Trixie was used to trips back and forth to stay at my parents’ house. I truly think she loved to be with them at their house as much as she loved to be here at home. Lord knows, my parents spoiled her beyond belief.

As I celebrate her life, I think of all the quirky little things that made Trixie Trixie. I laugh thinking of how she would walk like a crab for a good five minutes after I dressed her in one of her shirts or dresses. Or until I mentioned the magic word: treat. You would think the shirt weighed 500 pounds. For a girl who carried on like this, she had quite a wardrobe. Her clothes drawer should be the canine envy of the block. I smile remembering how she would spin circles at the back door to let us know she needed to go outside. You knew how quickly you needed to hustle based on the speed of the spin. And how that fluffy tail of hers would swish like windshield wipers whenever she saw me getting my weekend bag or suitcase out of the closet because she knew she was going on an adventure – either to stay with her grandparents or to go along on a trip. How she wagged her tail with pride and excitement when dropping off a prize for me at the back door – a squirrel’s tail or dead bird. Eeeek!

And to broach a topic I have never once mentioned on this blog – when I came home that August Monday in 2007 to discover my then husband had disappeared over the weekend, leaving his wedding ring and an impersonal typed goodbye letter on the kitchen table, Trixie Belle never left my side as I hung onto her for dear life and sobbed and grieved nonstop for days on end. I will never forget how she looked at me as I went through tissue box after tissue box. It was a look that said she knew my pain and felt it too but at the same time reminded me that she had never really liked him and had tried to warn me more than once about his character. Little did either of us know that the best days of our lives were yet to come.

I laugh thinking of the time The Hubs decided to set up a doggie cam on our laptop/phone just to see how T-Belle spent her time while we were gone. Due to her tendency to shed, Trixie was only allowed on certain pieces of furniture. I remember how my mouth had flung open when we, still sitting in the car in the driveway, pulled up the screen on my phone and saw her sitting on the back of the couch no sooner than we had put down the garage door. When we quickly pulled back in the garage and flung open the back door, she was already there (having heard the garage door go back up), wagging that tail and looking so innocent. Sneaky little goose!

My sweet peek-a-poo-ranian

That one Christmas when she and I had coordinating accessories…

This was our last photo together, taken this Christmas. It’s hard to believe she was fine, just three weeks ago. 

Fourteen years of good health and great life and memories. What a lucky girl. And how lucky I am to have been her mommy. I will never forget her smile. Yes, she really did have a smile. And now I can just picture her smiling down on us from Heaven, waiting out our next adventure together.

This was from our engagement session in 2010. Photo courtesy of Lori Sparkman Photography.

Who could resist that smile? Photo courtesy of Lori Sparkman Photography.

Love you, T-Belle.

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