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My Beautiful Girl
By Hugh Davis

     She was beautiful when she was young, and we were proud to be seen with her. People admired her good looks. We were never exactly sure of her lineage. We knew who her mother was, of course, but her father had evidently departed quickly after a one-night stand.

     Her beauty was more than skin deep. Her pleasant disposition won the affection of every one who came in contact with her. She had near celebrity status in some of the establishments that served her. The help was always glad to see her coming.

     After her accident she never was quite the same. That’s when the doctor said that in addition to her broken leg, she had some congenital problems that would hinder her movements even after her injuries healed. But even though she limped a little and needed medicine for pain, she continued to enjoy life. For a long time, she was able to engage in active sports, particularly those that required running and jumping. But as her joint problems became more severe, her exercise was limited to long walks with me.

     She never was a complainer, but she hated being left alone in the house. When we came through the door after being away for hours, we would be subject to long harangues about the unfairness of it all. Her vocabulary was extensive. Sometimes it seemed she could read our minds. We had only to say a few words and make the appropriate gestures and she usually did exactly as we desired.

     In the end, age got the better of her. Besides her joint problems, she had numerous tumors. Most were benign, but a few were not. I wasn’t sure how much she was suffering because she kept it to herself. The decision to take her for her last trip in my truck would be heart-rending.

*****

     By now, it should be obvious that I have not been describing a human, but our four-legged sweetheart, Dixie. Strangely enough, everything up to this point was written almost eight months ago. I had meant this to be a final tribute to a dear friend. The vet had told me that the tumors she’d removed from Dixie’s leg were both aggressively malignant. We did not expect her to make it past Christmas of 2004. But she continues to surprise us. We still go for four mile walks in the woods nearly every day. When we don’t, it’s usually her "Daddy" who begs off, not Dixie.

     Since she’s even older than we are in dog years, we have to take it one day at a time. Hopefully she’ll make it to her twelfth, or should I say her 87th, birthday this coming September. But whatever the case, she has enriched our lives for more than ten years and hopefully we have made hers more enjoyable. Parting, when it comes, will be heartbreaking. Then the question will be: how do we replace her, or do we even try?

     After several years with a fairly sedate, well behaved "friend" are we willing to go through a break-in period with a young, rambunctious animal, with far more energy than we have at this point? After comparing all the plusses and minuses for having a dog, two positives stand out: security and health. Even with a "sweetheart" like Dixie, sheer size and bark are enough to deter most burglars or assailants. And, it’s not likely I would take my daily walks without a furry companion. They say owning a dog is one of the best motivators for staying active.

     So, will there ever be another dog like Dixie? No, but there’s never been another dog like her predecessors, Lucky and Cinder, either. They are a lot of trouble and cost far too much to maintain, but these creatures make very special places within our hearts. So, yes, we’ll get another dog. 

© 2005 Hugh Davis All Rights Reserved

  


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