Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sweeter Than Candy

Vixen Learns To JumpHer first time out she got it. No edging down the middle of the ramp like a wuss. She was smart and fast and brave. Miss Vickers was a quick study who saw her role as head of household rather than dog. She could have claimed deductions.
The first time I met the old girl, we hit it off. I didn't know Phil and Karen had a dog, let alone this dog. It was early in the morning and I wasn't getting up early in the morning then. (Then, who am I kidding? You could dangle Brad Pitt on a sugar coated stick full of hot morning buns and I wouldn't get up until the sun was warm.) No loud barks from Miss Vickers that morning, just a wagging tail built to carry a Black Hawk.
Whoppa whoppa whoppa.
She kept running around the house—through the living room, back through the dining room, stopping at her water dish for a few sips of water and a crunch of food, then another lap through the house until she landed at my feet.
Whoppa whoppa whoppa.

Vixen by chairShe must have seen the expression on my face when I walked through the door and saw her that first time. You know the look. Remember when you thought your parents forgot your sweet sixteen until you saw a shiny new Boxster RS 60 Spyder wrapped in a giant bow in the driveway?
Me neither. My old man snagged me a swamp green dodge in a fixed raffle when I was in my twenties. That was cool.
I was elated, Vixen was elated. Phil had had another black lab named Luci (short for Lucifer) when our families lived next door to each other back when Michael Jackson still had a nose. Luci used to sneak through the window of my parked '68 mustang waiting to be taken to the park, then pop up from the back seat once we hit the Beltline. She loved water so much she once jumped out of the car window after sniffing Lake Wingra from the top of Park St. Crazy dog.
That was the first time I was in a doggie ER.
Vixen (that's her given name, which I think Vince spells "Vixon") was born on or around Christmas. They got her the same winter Bug was born.

BugMaybe that's why she loved snow so much. I remember one winter, nothing like this one, when there were only a few patches of dirty ice crystals left on the front lawn and she tore out the door (which she could open with her nose) to roll in them. I can think of worse things to roll in.

Vixen this winterThe first time I got to take care of Miss Vickers, we both got into shape and one of us was fit enough to jump from a ramp into the water.
"Don't go painting her nails or anything," Phil said.
As if.

Vixen scarfSo I put away my scarves and bottles of shimmering nail polish and took her to the ramp.
The ramp. The wonder of it all. Sure she was a great swimmer, but she'd somehow missed the whole air dog craze.
Have you ever seen pure joy warmed up and poured over fur?
We don't need no stinkin' Porsches.
Whoppa whoppa whoppa.

By the bushA tennis ball in any condition, ground to stand on, a full water dish, and a pocket full of treats is all she needed. Water to swim in? No! Bonus. And her people of course. Man, she loved them all. She was responsible for bringing me closer to family I hadn't seen in years. Then she made me part of hers. She wouldn't have it any other way.
Pet my lily white ass.
No, wait, I didn't mean pet my—never mind.

Vixen in the grassI was ready to file a story on Irish dancing Monday night, it was either three hours late or four-and-a-half hours early, depending on how you look at it. I'd just hung up with a final source, went back to make sure I had the right files attached (riveting stuff isn't it?) so I wouldn't accidentally send my editor a list of Your Momma jokes instead of 450 words on Celtic dance and a sidebar.
The phone rang again, and it was Phil. I started yammering how I wanted to go out for a beer since I was three hours late or four hours early with the article. He stopped me. Then I had a pen in my hand and was frantically taking notes on an already full piece of scrap paper. I looked down at it and didn't recognize the words. He called back two more times and not until he used the word "Brewery" did I know where they were taking Miss Vix. (No, they weren't taking her to a brewery.)

Roscoe Vixen floorShe'd stopped breathing and Karen had intubated her with a turkey baster. Karen drove ahead with Vix and Vince. Phil had made a gurney with Vixen's blanket, then followed with Bug. That was the last time Roscoe saw his Miss Vickers. The roles had reversed in recent weeks, and he began watching over her.

Roscoe and VixenRed eyes, counting cat versus dog pictures (4 cats, 3 dogs, dog clock in the bathroom). Trying to be funny with a joke I stole from Seth Meyers about "total cat replacement."
They finally wheeled her out. She was drugged and tried to get up from her worn blanket and metal gurney. She knew us. Somehow she managed to give me kisses. Forever the mom, she knew I needed them. She knew I was the wuss edging down the middle of the ramp.

Vixen snowDecisions had to be made, a family discussion. And then there's the matter of the bill. I just kept petting her and kissing her head. It wasn't my place to say anything. Two helpless creatures.
They didn't know why she stopped breathing and were going to give her a tracheal wash to find out more. They'd see if surgery was needed, but neither Karen nor Phil wanted that. Chances were she wouldn't pull through. Was it an infection, was it viral? I remember when they wheeled her out to us, she reminded me of royalty. The dog queen. When they wheeled her away from us the room drained.

Vixen SnowI was shopping for a combo DVD player at Best Buy when Phil called me the next day.
"Vixen's gone," he said.
He went to pick her up and bring her home, hoping that prednisone would work better this time. No sooner had they said how good she was doing when a doctor came into the outer room and said she stopped breathing. In the end, they put her to sleep rather than have her keep going through the trauma. There were no answers for her, just pain and uncertainty.
When I talked to Nitro Nanci last night, she asked me if we were having a wake. I said "no," but Phil, Bug, and I had gotten out in the fresh air of a little league field, and were able to come back and tell stories. Our family is good at that.

Roscoe Vixen kissBug talked about how Vixen one-upped Roscoe by refusing to sit in the way back seat. The younger dog had claimed the second seat, the one closer to humans with junk food. Vixen couldn't manage to get in either of the back seats, yet somehow had the strength and grace of a gazelle when hopping up front.
Roscoe has been lost like Flight 815. He's a Tennessee Williams play. He's Blanche in Streetcar. He didn't move from the spot Miss Vickers normally inhabits all morning. He temporarily forgot what he's supposed to do with a Frisbee (like Picasso forgetting what to do with a brush, Chong forgetting what to do with a pack of Abadies).
Yeah, I'm the wuss, and this is how I'm going to remember her:


  1. Oh my gosh, Jeanna. What a lovely tribute to Miss Vix. It's amazing to see the many ways our little fur babies change our lives forever. I love my dog more than I like some people! LOL!

    Hugs XO

  2. Thanks hon, here's hoping a long and happy one for Chance.

  3. You did a fine piece or work on that tribute to Miss Vickers!
    I knew something was up as soon as I read the 3rd and 4th sentence and I was hoping I was wrong.

    I sure wasn't expecting to come here and find a tear running down my cheek. I held out pretty good till I got to the two pics of Roscoe & Miss Vix......Then lots of tears.

    Tell Mr Phil, & Miss Karen, and little Vince & Bug that Miss Vix was loved and admired in far away places. Especially by this ole southern redneck.

  4. ...that last picture was so sad. I'm sorry for your loss. Like my daughter says, "dogs are people too."


  5. Yeah, I think her vocabulary was better than mine.
    Thanks Jodi. I didn't mean to make anyone sad or anything, it's just, I don't know what else to do but write about it.

  6. You did good Jeanna.We can all be sad together and I think that was the MOST important thing to write about.
    I would have definitely questioned the absense of her on your blog if you didn't let us know!

    I always make a time capsule with pics and their life story when I put my pets to their final resting place.

    Just in case someone digs up their old bones one day....they will know it was a loved one!!!!

  7. ...sometimes writing about loss is the best thing, it lets you put your feelings into words and lets people know what's going on inside you. I'm like Uncivil, I'd want to say something, so people will know you loved her. It's better than flowers and lasts a lot longer.

  8. RIP dear Vixon. Dogs love us no matter what, we are the lucky ones.

  9. I missed it. I thought Miss Vickers was your dog, living with you the whole time. I'm glad she was adored and made you remember all of the gorgeous things about her. I'm so sad, this is painful. I'm so thankful I came across your blog one day and found you and Miss Vickers. You're a great writer and excellent storyteller. Most people can't be both, but you are. Sending some hugs and more hugs, and deep breaths. RIP Miss Vickers. XO

  10. That's a sweet, smart idea, James. I guess I've never been through this before and am still bouncing between denial and depression.
    Geez, I AM a wuss.

  11. Yeah Jodi, hon', it is better than flowers. I wonder what a doggie bouquet would be made of? Treats, tennis balls, ripped frisbees, bones with bits of meat clinging to them, and car keys?

  12. Hey Cuz, how you feeling? I found giant suckers for Bug and Vince today. That was fun.
    I heard a station ad during the Brewers game today that said:
    "Madison's ESPN radio 1070, we hate the Cubs more than anybody!"

  13. Hey MM, she kind of adopted me. I mean from the moment we met she did.
    That's high praise coming from a talented Ched like yourself, woman.
    Feeling the love.

  14. Hey, Jeanna!
    Just checking in on ya. Hope all is okay in your neck of the woods.

    RIP, Miss Vickers!

    I often think about the day Chance will leave us and how I will react. I act like such an overprotective doggy mama, but you can never prepare yourself for the day they leave. Chance is 6 yrs old now and I dread each year that comes. I know I should be reveling in each year we share together, but seriously...loving a pet so much makes me feel that losing them will be heartbreaking. I don't think my heart can handle losing Chance.

  15. Hey C., I was thinking of you the other day when I was looking at postcards at an antique store across from my Godfather's restaurant. Haven't found one I want to send you yet.
    Life is emptier without the sweet baby girl.
    You have a big heart and I know you wouldn't let a day go by when you didn't give that little French Kanook some doggie mama love.
    The sun is out now, but I think that will be short lived. Yesterday got cold and depessing, but a nice swim this morning and a crock pot full of comfort food helps.
    Talk soon, pal.

  16. Oh my sweetie...this is SO beautiful and oh wow, I'm so sorry for your loss...

  17. Thank you, Olga.

  18. I keep commin' by to pay my respects to Miss Vix!
    My Dirt Road Dog friend's doggie (Miss Jolly) that she rescued 3 weeks ago just had nine puppies.

    Hugs to Roscoe!

  19. Thanks, hon'. I dreamt about her last night. Nine puppies, wow, what a handful. I should go on back to her blog to see what's up. I will certainly give hugs to Roscoe from you next time I see him.

  20. I have a lap full of tears right now. This is the first time I've visited your blog. I have seen you at Jimmy's but hadn't visited you yet. Here it is, early in the morning, and from Jimmy's something moves me to visit you this morning. What I just read ....I can't find the words to say what it did to me - only that I think I must be the biggest wuss here (possibly on the planet) and that I have some kind of genetic defect that makes me fall absolutely to pieces when I read a tribute like that. That was so beautiful. I have snatched about 10 Kleenexes out of the box and can hardly compose myself enough to write this comment, and I know I'm bumbling and rambling. If I recall (and I will) throughout the day or the week (or ANY time) this tribute you composed, so beautifully the way you have and the way you ended it (and how I cried so hard as I read yet burst into laughter at the very end watching that video) I'll cry again right on the spot (and hopefully laugh, too.) I guess all these emotions means that - for me - ... lol - I'm not too sure what it means other than ... it might mean that I'm not too ashamed (at least now) to admit that my dogs and cats mean more to me than perhaps anything else in life. I guess I can't help it. Lord a'mercy, I think I grieved for three years (and still do) over my beloved dogs and cats who passed! Got a new camera a few months ago, and out of 1000s of pics taken so far, I haven't taken but a handful of the humans in the family :)

    That was beautiful. I'm going to try to read it again and then go out and begin my day and hopefully not look like I've been up crying all night.

    Nice to meet you. I'm glad I met you through Jimmy's - he's a good ole guy - lol, and C is a mighty nice lady, too! Gee -Jimmy knows some really neat folks! I hope to get by all blogs and visit. I don't have a lot of time when I'm on the computer, but I sure am glad I paid you a visit this morning.

  21. Dear DRD Gal,
    I'm glad you stopped by too.
    Jimmy sure does know some exceptional people.
    I really admire what you do for our furry pals and it touches me that you took the time to think about one of the sweetest pups that ever caught a tennis ball. (And threw it back to you.)
    There aren't many people who love you like a dog. I never thought calling guys "dogs" or saying he "dogged you" made any sense.
    They're always waiting for us to pay them as much attention as we can spare, and it makes me smile to know there are people out there like you who extend themselves.
    Thanks for your kind words.


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