Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Black, White, Brown and Crazy

Have you ever lived with someone you didn’t trust?
You know, that feeling of sleeping with one eye open.....contemplating putting a lock on your bedroom door.....considering changing your security system pass code just in case they’ve seen you punch it in......that uneasy feeling of being completely unaware of what goes on in the house when you’re not there.....
Dixie was found in a snowy side ditch on a cold January day two years ago. I didn’t find her - I wasn’t even in the state that day; but somehow, this 6th generation feral dog from Randolph County now shares a house with me. 

I don’t even know what kind of dog I live with. The vet told me she looked part Terrier and part Beagle. She said Dixie wouldn’t be a big dog, and her tail wouldn’t grow to be very long. She also told me Dixie had perfect ears. This particular vet doesn’t practice anymore.

In two years, Dixie has come a long way from that bitter cold side ditch. I used to be able to carry her around in the front pocket of my hooded sweatshirts. I’d consider doing that now, but my hoodies have had their pockets chewed off. Rest assured, unlike Dixie, I don’t have an appetite for fabric. Or leather. Or couches. Or the neighbors’ trash. Or left over...”tissue”...from branding, dehorning and  castration day at the farm. 
Dixie has strange attributes that make many in the community think she is part fox. She has a fox-like tail, crouches slyly in the tall grass before pouncing, acts very sneaky and is quite keen. 

Well, everything but the last two. 

She’s actually been given a registered name, RFD Dixie - Retarded Fox-Dog. I think it flows well. She’s registered on the CTLATAOCACOIYSTOYP List - Clay Township List of Animals That Are Ok to Call Animal Control On If You See Them On Your Property. She ranks up there with raccoons, opossums and the crazy old goat that used to live next door. The town Marshall called last week; so far, she’s racked up the most calls in 2011; not something I’m proud of, but at this point I take credit anywhere I can get it. 
Dixie enjoys a variety of activities on a daily basis. She loves taking a stroll around Greens Fork when I let her out every morning at 3:18 a.m.; when she shows up on my doorstep 17 minutes later she enjoys bringing unidentified objects into my house. Of course, I never see these because I’m half asleep, in the dark and don’t have my glasses on. Don’t worry, I generally find them 1-8 days later...under my desk. 
She enjoys chasing cows completely away from the gate we’re trying to get them through and also chasing 43 Amish buggies that ride past the farm every Sunday. She enjoys shredding calving record books if she is left in the truck for more than six minutes and also removing every individual bullet out of a box ammunition, and placing them through out the interior of a farm vehicle. I got in the truck last month and thought I had just missed a reenactment of World War II. 
Over Christmas break I decided to go where no woman has gone before, or since the day I moved in: I cleaned out from under my bed. In the process, I learned that Dixie had completely shredded the poly-lining under my box springs, as well as the 2x4 that supports the center of my mattress. It was no wonder my back had been killing me for weeks and that, just recently, my mattress had taken on a droopy shape, suggesting a 500lb. man slept right in the middle of it for 20 hours a day. Under my bed, where a supportive box spring had once been, Dixie had made a fine bedding of wood chips and poly-lining. 
Dixie’s performance as a “guard dog” is outstanding, and year-round. In the spring she digs holes all over the front yard as though to trip anyone not welcome. In the summer she drinks all of the water out of my flower pots so she’s able to stay hydrated while keeping watch for predators. In the fall Dixie barks at any leaf that falls, awaking me in the night hours. And in the winter, Dix is great at marking her territory in the snow directly next to my steps so that any visitor knows she means business. 

She really is the gift that keeps on giving. All Year Long.  

Dixie has taught me a lot in the two years we haven’t actually killed each other. If it wasn’t for her I would probably still believe that Wrangler work boots really can withstand anything, that my yard doesn’t have a mole problem and under the spare bedroom bed, in vacuum sealed plastic, is a secure place to hide family quilts and handmade doilies. All lessons learned. 
Once, when I was away from home traveling, a man from Oklahoma brought a semi load of hay to BSG. Before he left, he offered the entire load to Dad if he could just have my parent’s well-behaved Jack Russell, Aggie.

 He didn’t skip a beat. “You can’t have that dog - she’s been through hell and high water; she’s a damn good dog, and off limits. However, I will pay you the entire amount of that load of hay and give you this crazy pup here,” said Dad, pointing to Dixie. The Okie took a long look at Dixie and bowed out. He claimed he’d had a lot of crazy women in his life that appeared to be cute and fun in the beginning, but eventually tried to kill him. And he didn’t need another. 

I will admit, it’s nice coming home to a pup. She’s always happy to see me and always wagging that muddy tail all over my just-dry-cleaned white slacks; a real joy. 
Truthfully, she went missing for hours during the freezing temperatures last week, and I was sick. I tried to remember if I rubbed her ears or patted her head before I left for work. Did I call her by her name or by some variation of “stupid black female dog?” - I couldn’t remember and I had a lump in my throat just thinking about it. 
Hours later, low and behold, through the snow covered bean stubble, across the side ditch and under the moonlight, Dixie came running enthusiastically to my car on Bond Road. I opened the door and let her right in, giving her the biggest hug that pup had ever received from me.
......She was completely covered in mud, snow, grass and was dripping wet. 
Absolutely the only dog I know who can find muddy water to play in 9 degree weather. 


  1. You probably deserve a medal for sticking with this pup!

  2. Love this! I had a dog like that until I gave her to my best friend and thankfully--despite my gift-- we are still friends.

  3. they really will love you more than anyone, no matter how mad you get at them! I wouldn't know what to do without my pup.. one day you'll look back on all that and laugh! I hate how short their time is with us :(