Thursday, December 3, 2009

This is not Dixie.

Photo by Mattyj

This Addison, aka, Addie. Our good friends Matt & Kristina recently adopted her. We can't wait to meet her some day! (They live in Portland.) I think Dixie and Addie could become very good friends, if given the opportunity.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Eleven weeks post-amp. woot woot!

Well, it's been 11 weeks since Dixie's surgery, and she is totally rockin' the tripawd look.

Dixie's favorite spot to rest — Adam's sleeping pad chair.

We did a little camping this weekend in Southern AZ. Dixie loves camping and was a trooper. She only took one spill, and got a wee scratch under her nose. Adam, D and I squeezed into our tiny two person tent and snuggled up every night. Of course, Dixie took up most of the tent so I had some trouble stretching out, but we all stayed warm.

Campsite on the road to Harshaw, south of Patagonia.

I've been chatting on the forums lately about phantom limb pains Dixie has been having lately. She jumps up, yelps and trots away. Then comes back and wants to be petted. It's very strange. She did not have a single episode while camping, but did have a big one when we got home. I wish I could figure out how to make the "pain" go away. There are a lot of suggestions on the forums to treat these phenomenons. However, no one really knows if it's phantom pain our dogs are having, or if it is muscle spasms, static shock or who knows. If only the D could tell us in words.

Dixie's car spot.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Post-amputation healing #4

Six-weeks post amp

Dixie seems to be doin' just fine these days. She's still a little reluctant to go on neighborhood walks sometimes, but she loves going on car rides and getting out on the town. We get a lot of attention and looks while we're out. But mostly everyone says that Adam and I are very brave for making the decision we made. And of course, they think Dixie is adorable and a sweatheart!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

An even smaller bed.

Dixie in Cody's bed. Keep in mind, Cody is only 3.6lbs.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dixie loves to nap.

I'm thinking Dixie needs a bigger bed.

This one looks pretty amazing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Post-amputation healing #3

21 days post-amp!

15 days post-amp – day after getting stitches out

Dixie is all healed up! Her hair is growing back and it's probably 2/3 as long as it will be. There is a little round spot near her belly that is darker than the rest and the hair isn't growing back as quickly. I think it's just a different kind of hair that grows there, and more belly-type skin.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Post-amputation healing #2

15 days post-amp – day after getting stitches out

14 days post-amp – morning before getting stitches out

7 days post-amp

Dixie's lookin' good! Her bruising is just about gone. I can't tell if the part near her belly is still a little bruised. I noticed her tan hair is coming back on the front of her shoulder. I cannot wait until her hair totally grows back!

Proof that dogs are AMAZING

I read before Dixie's surgery that it's easier for tripawds to walk at a faster than slower pace. Dixie walks so fast that it's hard to keep up! Either we're going to become super great race-walkers or be really good skateboarders. Well, we are already skateboarders, so never mind.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dixie can jump high!

Look who I found on the bed this morning? Jumped up there all by herself. Dixie is definitely milking this recovery for all it's worth!

Guess she can do stairs now, according to my mom. Must get video of that!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Zip-lock dog food bag.

Smartest thing ever. Why doesn't every brand do this? I met one of the women who's family is involved in producing this dog food, Pure Vita, at Pet Food Depot awhile back. She gave me a bunch of samples and Dixie seemed to love it. I bought a big bag today at Pet Food Depot with a $2 off coupon. I'm completely blown away by the zip-lock bag.

PS Dixie scarfed down her bowl.

Post-amputation healing

7 days post-amp

5 days post-amp

4 days post-amp

It's amazing how quickly dogs heal. Dixie hasn't had any excessive fluid or a seroma develop. Her bruising is starting to go away. I really can't wait for her hair to grow back. I don't think we'll even notice a scar.

We are meeting a lot of new people lately because of Dixie's missing leg. We spoke to two different neighbors for the first time the other day while walking Dixie. Today everyone at Pet Food Depot wanted to know her story and give her treats. She's definitely getting a lot of attention!

Holy medicine!

As you can see, Dixie is on a variety of medications. We even have a "Dixie" medicine cabinet in our house now. I wanted to share with ya'll Dixie's medicine regiment we go through twice a day. One of the pain meds and two of the supplements are chewable. The rest go down with a little chicken!

After laying this all out, I said to Adam, "It's like Dixie is a cancer patient!" And then I remembered she is.

Once monthly:
Interceptor - heartworm medication

Once daily:
glucosamine, chronjointin, & MSM - joints
fish oil - skin & coat

Twice daily:
Cepha - antibiotic
Tramadol - pain medication
Rimadyl - anti inflammatory & pain medication
multivitamin - general health
tri-biotic gel - ear infection

Dixie seems to be doing well with her pain, so I think we may cut down on the Tramadol to once a day. It's hard to say because it's only a 12-hour pill. Maybe we should just keep up with it until she gets her stitches out next Tuesday. She needs to finish the Cepha to ward off infection. The Rimadyl she will take on "sore days" from here on out. And of course, we'll keep up with the vitamins and supplements.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dixie showing off her mobility skills.

Adam's better at this video thing.

I think Dixie is feeling pretty good today. We took a walk down to the end of the block (4 houses down!) and back. She wanted to go further, but I didn't have a leash with me. Those bunnies – I just know she'll go after one if she sees one. Last thing I want to see is a major face plant!

Dixie's back!

Dixie's been laying on her left side where her leg used to be. I think that's a good sign. It is the most bruised today though. It's weird. The top part of the incision doesn't have bruising; all the bruising is on the bottom. I guess gravity is the cause. It's redish-purple. I think it will be gone by next week. I'm only giving her a Tramadol and Rimadyl in the AM and PM now. No point in giving her more drugs than she needs. She's also still taking her Cepha antibiotic and will finish that whole bottle in a couple weeks.

Dixie's incision.

I ordered some medicines from 1-800-PetMeds yesterday. No shipping, no tax and $5 coupon code! Sweet. I ordered a big bottle of Super Joint Enhancer Chewable Tablets and Super VitaChews (both on sale!). As soon as they show up, Dixie will start taking those too. They are chewable—no more shoving my finger down her throat! Except for her fish oil pills, but wrap it up with a little lunch meat or bread, and it goes down like… like lunch meat or bread. Ha.

We are hoping to get back into our house today. Although it's not off to a very good start—the A/C guy forgot to set his alarm and was 2 hours late this morning… *sigh*

Friday, August 28, 2009

Life's pretty good.

Dixie on the way to the vet, laying in a very awkward position. It was funny.

Dixie had a check up this morning. She has been given a clean bill of health and doesn't need to see the vet again until Tuesday, September 8 to get her stitches out. Dr. Stephanie said she looks great. She pressed on Dixie's chest around the incision and Dixie didn't even flinch. There is a little more bruising today than before, but I think that is normal. We also think Dixie's muscles and joints are more sore today, so the doc recommended giving her a Rimadyl. It's an anti-inflammatory and should help. For some reason, I thought it was another pain killer. Dr. Higgins gave her a 24-hr shot of it on Wednesday, so she just went one day without it.

We visited our friend Clint today for a bagel breakfast. Dixie got to meet his and Melissa's two little dogs Willie and Mason. Dixie seemed to really like the two boys, and even ran-hopped around with them. She's also getting good at hopping over things. She totally jumped over a foot-tall wall and didn't face-plant.

Even though we've been travelling a lot lately, we kind of feel like skipping town again. Wish we knew someone up in Payson or up north somewhere. Dixie can't hike right now, but just laying a blanket out in the woods for a picnic sounds delightful. For now, we are held up at the Hattaway's until tomorrow (fingers crossed).

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"When it rains, it pours." More like, when it's hot, it gets hotter.

Well, our air conditioner has officially crapped out. It needs a new compressor or to be sent to the dump and replaced with a new, more efficient unit. Dixie, our computers and I toughed it out until about 3pm when it got up to 90 degrees in the house. It was just too hot for a post-amp patient (I'm learning the lingo!) and our computers shouldn't be running in high temps. So we packed up the Beetle with Dixie and her stuff in the hatchback and the iMac buckled in the front seat. Oh boy, how nice cold A/C feels blowing on your face.

In the back seat earlier last week.

At my parents' house, Dixie met up with Roxy and Pixie. They could tell something was wrong with Dixie—there was definitely extra sniffing. They all settled down pretty quickly. Adam met up with us after meeting with the A/C sales guy. We laid on the couch cooling off.

We headed south in Scottsdale to the Hattaway's. Lucky for us, they are off having fun on vaca so there was an empty house for us to crash in. We could have stayed at my parents, but Dixie can't maneuver stairs yet. I didn't want to have to carry her up and down the stairs to the bedroom.
Dixie on drugs.

Dixie slept like a log, unlike me. I tossed and turned all night. I think today calls for a nap!

Good news — Dixie is only taking one kind of pain killer now, Tramadol. We'll see how she does!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Preparation #2

So I'm a planner, an organizer if you will (although you wouldn't know it looking in our house!). When I get really excited or anxious about something, I start planning and shopping. I did all this research. I bought things (see Preparation). I worried about things. In hindsight, the research was helpful, but maybe I didn't need to buy so much.

For example, it's Dixie's first day home and all she really needs or wants is sleep. We have her old dog bed covered in an old blanket. Zero dollars. It's too hot in the house (A/C still out). She is just laying on the tile anyway. She got her bandage off so we put an old t-shirt on to catch any fluid. Zero dollars. I was going to buy or ikea-hack an elevated dog dish contraption. Turns out, a box I already had turned upside-down with it's lid upside-down on the top works just as well. Zero dollars.

I know we will get some use of her Ruff Wear harness after her pain is gone. But, I'm not sure about the Comfy Cone though. With her elbow, there were few ways to cover it up, so she was always getting at it, licking. Her chest on the other hand, we can easily cover up with a t-shirt. Also, we didn't need any anti-skid stuff on the floors either. So far she's sticking to walking on the tile and hasn't fallen too hard yet. Guess we don't need that $5 giant rug from the resale shop after-all. Goin' in the next garage sale.

If you know my mom, you know that it's in my nature to shop. It's just something we do, and I'm pretty good at it. I know how to find the deals and am proud of it. But instead of shopping, maybe I should have been meditating…

My advice: don't go overboard too early. Cross bridges as they come and you might save yourself a buck.

What a surprise!

I can't stop with the !!! We are ecstatic about how well Dixie is doing today. When we got to the hospital, they let us visit with her. I couldn't believe my eyes. She was standing in her kennel! When we opened the door, she tried to escape. She's like, "Let's bounce!" She was still vocalizing a lot, but probably just because she was happy to see us. The doctor show us how she can walk and go potty. It's really amazing.

The vet is pretty convinced that all her vocalizing and crying was due to dysphoria from the morphin-type of drugs she had been getting intravenously. Dysphoria is an extreme mood change such due to trauma that can bring on sadness, anxiety, depression, irritability or restlessness. The vet believes she doesn't react well with such intense drugs and she was totally confused and freaked out. They don't believe her crying necessarily had to do with pain. She was basically have a really bad trip.

Then we took her from the ER to our vet, with a little McDonald's on the way. She liked that. I did too. They removed the bandage and say it's all healing nicely. There is minimal bruising. They gave her a shot of Rimadyl before we left and ordered us back on Friday to check her drain, or remove it. (On a side note, the doctor at the hospital and our regular vet went to veterinary school together in Fort Collins, CO. That was pretty cool.)

Right now she's passed out in an old Land Rover shirt of Adam's. She can get in and out of the car, walk, pee, lay down. It's amazing. Outside she saw a lizard and tried to take off to chase it, but she was on the leash. In time, I'm sure she'll be after bunnies and lizards like before.

Today has brought on a huge sigh of relief. Dixie is such a strong-willed dog. She's going to kick butt as a tripawd! I'm so happy to share this experience with everyone. We love you all, and Dixie loves you too. Come by this weekend and visit with us!

PS: Our stupid A/C still isn't working! It's 88 in here right now. We have all the fans going at full speed. Adam broke down and called the repair guy. We hope it isn't too pricey. We've spent a lot of $$$ in the past 24 hours!

Dixie is walking!

Holy cow. Just watch the video.

We all made it through the night.

Off to the emergency vet to see what they say about Dixie's condition. Unless she had a big turn for the better, I hope they decide to keep her. I don't want to have to transport her back to Horizon, especially since I'm sure she's become comfortable where she is now. Can't wait to see her. I hope her whining is minimal…

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dixie is/was home.

In the car on the way home


Man. This is pretty awful. Dixie is very whiny. The doctor thinks it's from the pain killers — that she is disoriented from them (dysphoria). The girls at the vet carried her into the car. I love the heart they put on her.

I think this is going to be a long night.

Listening to Dixie cry.



We decided to take Dixie to the emergency animal hospital. After a half hour home, we thought she was crying and breathing too hard/fast. Dixie yelped SO loud when we tried to pick her up to put her in the car. It was so awful! We figured out a better way to carry her, and covered her eyes. She didn't make a sound.

This is all frustrating because the plan all along was to have her come home the same day of the surgery. Our vet didn't expect anything else. (They preferred her to be home where she would be supervised. They don't have anyone tending to the animals over night. We were unaware of that until today.) Her pain was pretty bad. They had her on a drip to maintain it. They sent her home with us around 5:45pm. They said they wanted her back at 7:45am the next morning to continue IV pain killers.

I feel all this regret. What have we done? Should we have found a different vet or surgeon to do the amputation? I feel responsible for her pain… (I know it's not my fault. Adam keeps reminding me. It's just more intense than I expected.)

At the emergency vet, they said we made the right decision to bring her in. That made us feel much better. We thought maybe we were just overreacting. They decided that she needs to continue pain management through shots or IV. I felt much, much better having her there, being monitored. However, bringing her home, seeing how upset she was, then bringing her to a new hospital — this was SO upsetting to us. They seemed confident that she would be okay with the appropriate amount of pain killers. Then they had us sign a do or do not resuscitate order. THAT blew us away. They said they don't anticipate anything to go wrong, but you never know. So we signed to resuscitate.

We got to say bye to her before we left. She looked pretty scared—had total crazy eyes—and was still whining. Tonight is gonna be a long one. I don't know how much sleep we are going to get worrying about her. All I want is to NOT get a phone call from the hospital. We will probably call at least once to check up on her.

We are planning on showing up at their door at 7am tomorrow, before the night vet goes home. They are going to give our vet a call and see what they think about the situation. I hope our vet don't insist on seeing her. I feel better keeping her at one place until it's okay she can come home to us. Plus, I feel safe having her at the hospital. I think they just got a new client?! We will see…

PS: On a side note, I don't know how we would have been able to give her pain meds ourselves tonight, seeing as they are pills. She wouldn't even lick an ice cube—how were we going to get her to swallow a pill? Grrrr.



Well Adam is passed out on the couch. We watched a DVD of Friends episodes—made me giggle and feel a little better. At 10:30pm, I made Adam call the hospital to check on the D. They said they started an IV and her whimpering is quieter. She's also clearly out-of-it, which they said is a good thing. Hopefully she can get some sleep tonight.

I'm reluctant to sleep. I feel like as long as I'm awake, everything is going to be okay. I always considered myself a strong person, but man, I'm a wreck when it comes to the ones I love. I asked Adam, What am I going to do when we have kids and something goes wrong? I'll be a complete disaster! Seriously.

I'm going to post this tomorrow. Need to get through the night, but felt like writing first. I've also been browsing Everyone is so wonderful on that site. I posted about our trip the the ER and Mary from the Bay Area wrote me back:

Oh, Emily, that's so scary. But, as you said, they seemed confident that she would be okay with the appropriate amount of pain killers. Once they have that adjusted, she'll get some rest. The other thing is probably standard procedure.

There are lots of stories here about how our dogs get weirded out with their medications right after surgery. I'm hoping, with you, that that's all it is.

Give yourself a couple drops of Rescue Remedy and try to rest. Dixie will need you to be strong tomorrow.

Hugs and prayers and good thoughts


I wanted to ask if Rescue Remedy is a shot of tequila. jk jk. Countless people on that site have gone through what we are, and what we are about to. It's incredibly comforting to hear their stories and advice.



I broke down and called the hospital again. The vet tech said they moved her to a kennel where they could turn off the lights, and that seemed to help her relax. And, she's sleeping—has been for about 45 mins! Phew, I'm so glad. Maybe now I can sleep too… if only our A/C would kick on. It's just blowing tepid air. It's not even hot out right now! C'mon!

Surgery Update

We heard from the vet at 3:00pm today that Dixie's surgery went well! I guess halfway through the surgery, they had to administer IV pain meds. My mom (a nurse) suspects that her blood pressure might have gone up—her body knew trauma was happening—so they had to give her more pain medicine. But other than that, I think it all went well. We can't wait to see her! We're going to go pick her up in a few minutes.


For the past week, Dixie, Adam and I have been preparing for the surgery.

Dixie had a chest xray and they didn't see any cancer. So we are pretty sure it hasn't spread.

I've been researching canine amputations. My favorite site is I'm also reading
Without Regret by Suan Neal.

We bought Dixie a Ruff Wear Palisades Pack with the Web Master harness and she doesn't mind wearing it at all. I'm looking forward to helping her get up and down stairs, in and out of the car with it. (A shout-out to Travel Hounds for the pack and the sample food and treats. You just acquired a new loyal customer!)

I also bought her a new Elizabethan collar. Dixie would always run into walls and furniture with her traditional plastic one. She'd also almost take your legs out with it when greeting you at the door! I think the Comfy Cone will be a better solution. I bought it at a cute little shop called Noble Beasts in Phoenix.

We have some towels in case Dixie drains again, like her elbow did. We also have some bath mats and non-skid things to put under towels so she doesn't slide around on the wood and tile.

We have some yummy treats to use as encouragement as needed.

Now we just have to find some vitamins and glucosamine, etc to start her on. This dog is going to get star treatment from now on!


Well, last night I had some trouble getting to sleep. Basically, I was just plain sad. I even slept with my Tigger, a childhood stuffed leopard. I can't believe I just shared that… If you know me, then you know when Tigger comes out, it's serious business.

Adam and I got up early today and made a trip to the gym. These days, since it's so hot out, we can't run with Dixie. Plus we are in terrible shape! She knows running shoes means running. So we have to walk out in flip flops with our running shoes in hand. That way she doesn't get all upset. The first time we made a trip to the gym, she tried to dig out of the backyard and knocked over her water bowl. Dixie does not like being left at home when she thinks we are out having fun.

We did a light workout on the stationary bikes as I read Adam excerpts of Without Regret by Suan Neal. That book is awesome. It covers practically everything you need to know about canine amputation. I highly recommend it.

Got home, showered and prepared for a day at the Hattaways (where we are working from today, waiting for a call to pick her up). At home I moved the furniture around so we can get Dixie out the door easier for bathroom time. Dixie was a little anxious, probably because we were packing bags. She also knows bags mean a trip. Lucky for her, we aren't going anywhere for a while. We piled in the car and listened to In the Heights soundtrack and some Amos Lee—a few of my faves these days—on the 15 min drive to the vet.

At the vet, Dixie was a little nervous and shy. Every time she's there, she gets poked and prodded! But we signed the papes and she went off with Dr. Beth. They are amputating below the shoulder, so they are leaving the shoulder blade.

We will keep you updated. For now, we are waiting and relaxing (and working).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tomorrow is the Big Day.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 25 is Dixie's amputation surgery. Dr. Beth Hareski at the Horizon Animal Hospital will be performing the surgery.

Dixie is getting over an ear infection, so I hope that doesn't affect the anything. We've also noticed that she is becoming hard of hearing. We're going to have the vet look into that.

Adam and I will be updating this blog as we go through this process together, the 3 of us. Keep Dixie in your minds tomorrow!

The diagnosis that changed our lives

July brought the most expensive and tragic trip to the vet. Over the course of about 6 mos, Dixie had developed a larger tumor on her front left leg. The doctor advised us to remove it sooner than later. She was afraid the longer we waited, the more difficult it would be remove.

July 9, 2009
Dixie went in for surgery to remove the leg tumor and a small growth under her tail. We opted to not have a biopsy of either tumor, since we knew we couldn't afford chemo or radiation if they were cancer. Halfway through the surgery, I received a call from the vet's office. Dixie was doing well, but they wanted to let me know the surgery was taking longer than expected. I knew this was not good.

After the surgery was over, I received a call from the doctor herself. She said the tumor was embedded among the tendons and veins more than expected. She did her best, but could not remove all of it. She highly recommended we biopsy the tumor. I agreed.

Finally at 5pm, I was allowed to take Dixie home. She was not well. Confused and crying. Pretty much until bedtime, she was whiny and wouldn't let me leave her side. This was unusual since Dixie had always recovered easily and quickly from surgeries.

The next few weeks were interesting. Thankfully, Dixie was her normal self the next day. I counted about 34 stitches on her leg. The leg had a lot of fluid and drainage. (see below) After many visits to the vet for draining, cut up socks to cover the wound/catch the fluid and lots of touch up cleaning on the carpet, she was finally cleared to get her stitches out.

We found out about 3 days after the surgery that the big leg tumor was indeed cancer—a grade I soft-tissue sarcoma (only 5-10% chance of metastisizing). I don't know why, but from the moment I dropped her off for surgery, I had amputation in mind. Of course I didn't even know she had cancer. I guess it was like a premonition of what was to come.

The vet recommended we amputate the leg to “increase her chances of a disease-free life;” and the sooner the better. Either that, or let it be. It would grow back, and no-one knows how fast. I expect it would quickly, since it grew fast the first time. When she starts having pain, we would maintain it with meds. I just couldn't imagine that. She's an active dog. Dixie LOVES running, hiking, camping—being in the wilderness. I would hate to cut that short by having her all doped up on drugs.

hiking in Fossil Spring Wilderness Area

But I also wondered, If we amputate, are we being too aggressive? Besides a barely noticeable limp, Dixie was getting around great, running and jumping. I never noticed a change her in behavior. The cancer has such a low chance of spreading. Since Dixie uses her left leg with no problem, I'm concerned she'll have a harder time recovering.

After some debate, Adam and I have decided to amputate. Through all this, I'm proud of myself and Adam for not being super emotional or worrying about her being "handicapped." My biggest fear, personally though, is her recovery. I know she's strong, both in will and physically. I just don't want her to get frustrated. I want her to be happy.

Dixie is expensive.

So pretty much from day 1, Dixie has been an expensive dog when it comes to medical issues. She had an ear infection when I adopted her, one of many to come. Why she's prone to them, I do not know.

Next came surgery to remove a tumor on her shoulder (I think? hard to remember…). Then surgery to remove a tumor inside her mouth by her molars.

On her first camping trip, she punctured her chest on a stick or something. We didn't even notice it until we were giving her a bath and I felt something fleshy on her chest. Turns out she had a hole there! We whisked her off to the VCA Animal Hospital because our vet, Horizon Animal Hospital, wasn't open—curse of a holiday weekend.

Her trips to the vet after that were few and far between. Except that one day her left eye was draining and just did not look good. She had punctured her eyeball with what we guess is a thorn from our lemon tree. (see below)

Come March, I knew we had to make another trip to the vet soon, regarding the large tumor she was growing on her front left leg. What I didn't know was that tumor was going to change Dixie's and our lives forever.

Our Studio Dog

The first Monday Dixie was with us, she came to work with me at Hattway Creative, where I freelance as a graphic designer. She was pretty shy, but sweet, towards the Hattaways. There were beautiful cactus flowers blossoming in the backyard so I took a few pictures of Dixie next to them. Looking back, I can't believe how skinny she was! She only weighed 45lbs when I adopted her. Now she's a health 55 - 60lbs (depending on the season)!

Dixie in her "den" under my desk at Hattaway Creative.
Dixie has also blossomed into a wonderful studio dog. Hattaway #1 practices commands with her using Dixie's favorite Buddy Biscuits from Trader Joe's. Hattaway #2 loves how Dixie smacks her lips together when she's relaxed and happy. And Hattaway #3 - Jambi the cat - enjoys Dixie's company and likes to flirt with her.

Dixie in her "home den #2" in the closet at Two Birds Creative.
Dixie also is our resident studio dog at Two Birds Creative. After being laid off in January, Adam and I started up our own graphic design company. Dixie's snores and sleep barks keep us entertained in our little home office.

Our Story - June 2008

The Payson Humane Society saw my "Happy Tails" story on and contacted me to find out more about Dixie's new life. They wanted to feature us in their newsletter. This is what they said:

Good morning Emily!

Petfinder forwarded the entry remark you made about Dixie and we were thrilled to read them. Love It! Would you happen to have a recent picture of her so we may add your story to our newsletter? With such happy endings, It helps to encourage people to adopt. I'd be more interested in hearing the signature honking noise but hey, I'll take what I can get! Thanks so much and thank you for the happy ending.

Payson Humane Society
"The Little Shelter That Could"

PS, did you keep her name Dixie?

This is what I wrote back:

I apologize in advance for the super long email! I just love my dog and love telling her story! :)

I adopted Dixie in February 2007. In December 2006 I started looking on and I found like 8 dogs I thought would be good matches. Over the next three months, I visited just two of them and both of them were WAY too hyper and young for me. Dixie was up there on my list, but she wasn't very close, since she was at your shelter in Payson and I lived in Tempe. She looked so sweet in her pictures on petfinder, and you guys said she won the "golden bone" award, even though I had no idea what that meant. ;)

So one Friday in February I took off work, and drove my parents' portuguese water dogs, Roxie and Pixie, up to Payson to meet Dixie. I wanted to make sure they all got along. When we pulled up to your shelter, I have to be honest, I was so surprised how small and shanty-looking it was. I was used to the AZ Humane Society in Phx and their awesome Center for Compassion campus. The lady that was at the front desk shot me a nasty look and said, "You better not be turning in those dogs!" and pointed at my Porties. I assured her I wasn't and was there to see Dixie, the so-called hound (now I think she isn't hound but part Australian Kelpie with floppy ears -- she likes to nip at your ankles). She would be with me in a moment... she was processing a dog that a woman was surrendering after she had adopted it like 6 mos before from you guys. Your volunteer/employee was NOT happy. Ha ha, I don't blame her.

Oh my gosh I was so nervous to meet this dog. Was I making the right decision to get my own dog? Was this dog going to be trustworthy with kids some day? Would I love this dog like I love my parents' dogs? My heart was beating so fast. Finally the woman took me out to see Dixie. So many dogs barking and causing a ruckus out there! We went into that open area in the back and let the three of them sniff each other. The woman said Dixie isn't so great with other dogs (which was a deal breaker for me) but none of them growled or got upset. My dogs went off and sniffed around, and Dixie just a laid down on the dirt. She didn't seem so interested... which, like I said in the petfinder story, made me kind of nervous. You know, an unemotional dog can sometimes not be trusted, so I thought. I stood there watching her while the woman and I spoke about her behaviors, personality, etc. She seemed good on a leash, and gave me a few kisses. I was starting to second guess this one, maybe Dixie is TOO calm. Then as she rested her head on her paws, looked up at me with her big sad eyes and I literally got choked up. I said, "I'll take her." We put her on the leash and she was like another dog! Jumping around and honking and snorting (we say she's part pig because of her snorts and part goose cuz of her honking). I piled the three dogs in the Jeep and off we went.

Then that joyous day turned horribly wrong. That afternoon I had to run out for an errand and didn't know if she could be trusted in the house yet. So I left her in the backyard. When I got home she was gone. The two gates to the backyard where shut and we have really tall block walls. How could she have gotten out!? I frantically searched the neighborhood for this dog I barely knew a couple hours. No one had seen her, but had heard her barking while I was away. We scoured the neighborhoods around our house for hours, and put up lost dog signs. What I had gotten myself into?! What if I never find Dixie? I was devastated.

Early the next morning, I got a call from a lady who thought she had my dog! Ironically, she was a dog groomer. She said Dixie was great all night, got along with the kids and other dogs she had. I was so happy to have my dog back and start our life together.

Dixie has not gone missing since. She has jumped over the wall once, and was found sniffing around the front yard. Honestly, I cannot imagine my life without Dixie! She is the best dog I could ever ask for. It took her a few months to adjust and really trust me. But she LOVES me now! She goes almost everywhere with me and my boyfriend, Adam... even to work. She's never had an accident in the house, never chewed up a shoe or anything, and is great on the leash. She loves going on walks and hikes. She's a great camping dog. I think her favorite thing to do is chase bunnies, something I don't think I will ever break her of. She also enjoys sunbathing! Like I said in the petfinder story, I am always complimented on her good behavior and calm disposition. Her only real flaw is that she is aggressive towards other dogs while she's on a leash, but she improving her doggie social skills every day. :)

Dixie has also become a little dog model. She was in a poster for an AZ Humane Society fundraiser (Adam works at an advertising agency that participated in the fundraiser). We always joke that she's a famous model! I've attached a few photos you can choose from for your newsletter.

I want to thank you so much for everything you do for the animals in Payson.
Thanks so much and have a great weekend,

Happy Tails - February 2007

photo via Payson Humane Society

I found Dixie on about three months before I actually got up the courage to go meet her at the Payson Humane Society. When I first met Dixie, she was very reserved and quiet, which made me a little nervous. She didn't really seem interested me. I was about to leave without her when she looked up with these big sad eyes and it almost brought me to tears. Man did she know how to pull at your heart strings with those eyes. As soon as I said I would take her, it was as if she knew she was going home with me. She was so excited, jumping around and making her signature honking noise. Since then, Dixie has become my best friend and constant companion. She has blossomed into a wonderful dog - gentle and sweet - always giving kisses. I am often complimented by strangers on her obedient behavior and calm disposition. I feel so lucky that we found each other; that I get the honor to have her as my dog.