Monday, June 29, 2015

Vixie Lynn or Vixen, Pumpkin, Sweet Pea, Little one...
Born February 28, 1999 I brought her home just before moving to the house I'm currently in, so I'm sure right at 8 weeks, since the house was bought in April 1999.  I've come to terms with the fact that Vixen was born of a back yard breeder, how little I knew and understood back then.  But she's definitely had a longer and healthier life than her sister Satin did, and she came from a reputable breeder.

Vixen was mostly black and white with the little bit of brownish on her legs and these little spots on her head that almost had a dark red to them if you were in the sunlight.  She was bi-eyed, brown on the left, blue on the right.  She was a right-tailed puppy.  That's a term I've made up based on the direction her tail curled when up and flipped over towards her back.  When she was young she had a dark mask, raccoon eyes with streaks down her nose.  As she grew older, like most siberians, the darkness faded... for a while it was more like eyeliner, and in her old age, barely some black there.

When I went to get Vixen:
  • They led to a barn which at first seemed empty.  But after a moment the little feet all came toddling out and there was a mass of them attacking shoelaces and getting under foot.
  • Her daddy picked out a pup which we took to the house to do some paperwork.  The lady tending to selling the puppies quickly realized he had picked up a boy, which was not our plan, so he headed back to the barn on his own to select another - our Vixie.  (How he didn't notice the distinct difference is beyond me.)
  • On the drive home it quickly became clear that she had just stuffed some food down (as would be standard for Vixen through the years - this girl loved her food as much as her mummy).  Apparently, telling the ex that "the dog is going to yack - pull over" didn't make sense.  Seems clear to me, but what do I know.  His truck, right?  Well, she barfed, right into my hand filling it to the brim with partially puffed up dog food.
  • Her name was to be Lace (thus Satin and Lace), but her daddy kept slipping up and calling her Vixen, which was a name given to a little black mouse I had while in college.  We decided to roll with her destiny and Vixen it became.

When she was little:
  • Vixen loved her big sister so completely and wanted to be with her at all times.  If the ex took Satin for a walk, Vix would cry.  So, on occasion I'd try to walk with her but her little legs simply could not keep up, so I'd have to pick her up as we walked.  Heck, my legs couldn't keep up either, so we were a bit behind often, where Vix would try to stand and lean forward in my arms to just get a little closer.
  • Satin would try to scarf up all of the food so much so she was gaining weight, so I had to take to feeding Vixen separately which often meant on my lap on the couch.  I'm pretty sure this is what turned food into meaning love to Vixen, thus furthering her life long obsession with her food.
  • She was lanky for a while and we joked she had limbs like her daddy.
  •  The first thing that grew to her adult size was not her feet like many dogs, but instead her tongue, which always seemed to be dangling out of her mouth.
Over the years:
  • Vixen loved her food so much she was good at bringing a bowl to you to point out that it was empty - often dropping it on your feet, you learned to move them quickly.  As time moved on and I found bowls that weren't so easy for her to move around she'd just take to telling you in any way she could.  You'd think there was a clock inside that one - she KNEW when it was time for breakfast or dinner.
  • We didn't always eat twice a day, but switched to it when Vixen started eating grass every day after work and making herself yack.  We realized that she just needed a little in the morning to keep this at bay.
  • She was never much of a cuddler.  If you would allow her on the bed she'd only give you her butt, laying sideways and taking up way too much space.
  • Vix always had issues on and off with her ears (infections or gunk building up), when you'd rub her ears she'd lean in and grunt - it clearly felt good.
  • I remember the ex's sister telling her she didn't like her, which broke my heart.  Everyone loved Satin, Vixen was the less good looking, less intelligent younger sister, but she was always a good kid.
  • At the house in NC she liked sitting on the edge of the couch, feet hanging over the arm rest crossed, looking out the window watching people walk along the sidewalk.
  • She didn't learn as many tricks as her sister, but she joined in on Satin's tricks.  Vixen learned sit, down, and paw.  She'd never roll over but when we'd convince Satin to roll over Vix would jump over her - eyes always on the prize - food!
  • She was always a challenge to walk, Vixen was a tremendous puller, I think she would have loved to learn how to drag a sled.  I tried a variety of collars and working with her to no avail.  You and your shoulder had to be ready if you were going to take Vix for a walk, even in her later days.
  • Vixen always liked ducks... toys that is.  Anything duck, that was meant for her.
  • Vixen hated water, which translated to baths being a nightmare.  She even kicked out the tub surround at one point.  You'd definitely come out with your arms and legs feeling like you just finished a hella workout.  When we'd take her and Satin to Bond Lake in NC Satin would swim, but Vix would only wade out no higher than mid-arm.  If she took a step and went in too far for her liking she'd come running back up with a look on her face like the water tried to eat her.
As she grew older:
  •  After Satin passed she was definitely mourning the loss, but Vixen was never great with other dogs and having Danika join the family was no exception.  It took a while with lots of frustration but we eventually decided to try some medication for thyroid to see if it would turn things around.  While she and Danika were never best buds, they did at least come to a mutual agreement, and things eventually progressed enough that Saffy could engage Vixen to play and run a bit in the yard.
  • I don't remember when it first started, but years ago a lump started to form on Vix's stomach.  We (the vet and I) were never certain if it was a fatty tumor or if her spay incision herniated, but she had a large 'growth' for lack of better word on her stomach for the last so many years.  It never seemed to bother her, but that's probably the worst of her health issues through the years.
  • She had a lump on her leg that she left alone for the most part, until the staff at the vet tried to clean it up a little bit.  From that point on she kept licking at it and it seemed to grow a bit.
  • Shortly after she turned 16 another bump started to form on her left side over her ribs.
  • In more recent years a fogginess took to her eyes, which the vet said was cholesterol and there wasn't a notable vision loss, except less night visibility which was easily mitigated by giving her some extra light to navigate stairs.
  • Her hearing was in question for a little while too.  There were days I'd get the whole way to her asleep in her bed and she would startle awake looking at me like "how did you get here!" but then other days where the sound of a treat bouncing on the floor didn't go unheard.  I think she just tuned me out.
  • Towards the end she began to struggle on the stairs, moving very slowly up, and often resisting even the best encouragement to go, so we'd have to head in and outside through the basement door. I'd have to think that her belly got in the way, it was simply that large.
  • Most groomers wouldn't touch her because of her age, so trying to brush her out was all I could do to keep her from looking neglected and she disliked that too - so her tolerance of this activity was limited to 5 minutes here and there.
  • She spent many of her later days in slumber. 
This past few weeks:
  • There were a few breakfasts that didn't get eaten right away.  I always said I'd know something was wrong if she didn't want to eat.
  • Even though it's not winter, she was pottying on the deck more regularly rather than going down the 4 stairs to the yard.
  • She'd pace back and forth on the deck when I called her from the basement door, like she wasn't sure of what to do and/or afraid to come down the stairs, but she had no issue doing so if you were beside her.
  • She walked into the glass back door twice not realizing it was closed.
  • I've caught her standing staring like she's off somewhere else, even once standing behind the basement door instead of going through it, as it was open.
I've gone back and forth on this for the past few months, the last month being even more pressing.  I did realize I needed to make the call this past Saturday.  Last night my niece and I took her for a nice long walk, and she wasn't pulling even early on.  Her one foot seemed to drag periodically, and her big growth on her belly just swayed back and forth.  There was a quarter pounder for dinner too.  Tonight was another short walk w/ Aunt Beff and some moist food and treats.  While I didn't make the decision to let her go easily, I admit that I kind of prayed she would have a heart attack after the walk last night, or something - that she would go on her own, rather than by my decision.

Ultimately, I sustained a life from a puppy to over 16 years.  It blows my mind both that I managed to do well enough to keep her healthy this long but also that she was relatively healthy for her entire life.  She, and this house, were the last two remaining things that originated from a different time in my life.  It adds another layer as I say goodbye to Vix.

She will be joining Satin, as she too will receive an individual cremation and will get her own container to sit beside her sister. Until I see you at rainbow bridge Vixie.  You were a good girl and I love you.

2/28/1999 - 6/29/2015

No comments: