photo by Sheri Dixon

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Power of a Puppy

For 15 years I had a friend. A best friend.

She was long and low and wire-haired and black and white spotted with floppy ears, waggly eyebrows and whiskers. She was just a little dog of about 25 pounds- 5 pounds of attitude and 20 pounds of heart.

She'd had a hard start on life- I got her out of the pound when she was about a year old and she refused to leave my side from that very minute till almost the end of her life- to the point of destruction if she was left behind. But that was OK- I worked at vet clinics and could bring her with me and she loved to travel with us when we went on vacation. The few times we did need to leave her, she stayed at home with people she knew and trusted.

Spooj was with me before I married Ward and had Alec- but she graciously accepted them both.

After 15 years of devotion, liver disease finally claimed her life last November. The final few years she'd declined to go with me anymore, choosing instead to stay at home and nap, and the final year I'd had to "take away her car keys" and walk her on a leash- she'd become too slow and blind and deaf to allow her to roam the property untended- too many coyotes and reckless UPS drivers.

And she left a huge hole in my heart and in our family- Ward loved her as much as I did and Alec couldn't remember life without her- because she was here before he was.

And I swore I'd never love that way again.

But I believe that souls who love each other will find each other over and over again- being an ol' reincarnationist hippie chick.

So I kept an eye out...just in case.

We were a battered, shattered, damaged family when we came home in May- almost 6 weeks after a 1 week anticipated trip to the hospital- almost 6 weeks of not one, but 2 extensive surgeries, bad drug reactions, heart failure, pneumonia, weeks in intensive care. The very LAST thing we needed was a puppy.

I sell baby guinea pigs to the local pet store- a pet store that does not sell "puppy mill" puppies, but has a program to find homes for unwanted puppies and kittens. They'd just gotten a new litter of puppies in. Matters not- I have a heart of steel- puppies hold no appeal to me.

Except for one of these.

She was long and low and wire-haired and grizzle colored with floppy ears, waggly eyebrows and whiskers. She was just a little dog of about 5 pounds- 1 pound of attitude and 4 pounds of heart. We'd always said we'dve given anything to see Spooj as a puppy, and even though this one is a different color- there she was- Baby Spooj.

Her name is Fizzgig, after a character in The Dark Crystal.

While we never did know Spooj's heritage (closest guess was dachshund/spaniel/schnauzer) we know Fizzgig's- 1/2 wire haired dachshund, 1/4 maltese and 1/4 pom, so she'll be smaller than The Original, but Ward still calls her "Spooj- The Sequel".

We never forget that she's her own soul, and therefore very special in her own right, that she's NOT Spooj, and can never fill the Spooj-shaped hole in our hearts. But she's doing an excellent job of filling that hole with her own brand of love and devotion.

While Spooj had seen alot in her year-without-a-home,giving her a worldly outlook, Fizzgig's never been out on the mean streets, and she's kind of timid of big things (like horses) or loud things (like cars), and it's a challenge to teach her that bolting for the front door may NOT always be the best strategy- that she needs to trust that if she's with me, she's safe.

She's got just enough "tiny timid dog" in her to be fearful, and just enough "terrier" in her to think "Scary Thing- every man and dog for themselves- I don't have to out-run the scary thing- I just have to out-run YOU". No worries- she's smart as a whip and learning to be better about that every day.

And she does tricks. OK. One trick. She does a very good impression of a meerkat- sitting up on her little haunches with her front paws dangling pathetically, eyes riveted to whatever food I'm preparing- she loves any fruit, veggie, cheese or bread- just like Spooj with one difference- Spooj would NEVER have stooped to tricks- that was way beneath her.

But the greatest gift of Fizzgig is that she's the most snuggle-bunny dog I've ever met- she's totally soft, not just her fur (which is wiry anyway), but when you pick her up she's more like a cat than a dog- she's got those Slinky-bones and she just melts onto your lap.

She gives Alec a run for his money- he sleeps on the top bunk and after she's up in the mornings she jumps onto the bottom bunk and attacks anything dangling she can reach to rouse him- blanket, sheet, pillow, feet...and he's madly in love with her.

She snuggles into Ward's lap and gazes into his eyes while he pets her and talks to her...and he's madly in love with her.

And even though the LAST thing we needed was a puppy in this time of trial, I look at that whiskered face and those waggly eyebrows and know she was a Very Good Idea- that she's speeding Ward's healing, become a boon companion for Alec, and wormed her fuzzy, quirky way into that emptiness in my heart I thought would never be filled again.

Thank you, Fizzgig.


  1. Awwwwww, that is sooooo sweet :D

  2. Such a sweet post, Sheri. And such an ADORABLE little doggie!

  3. Sorry for your loss. That's the "problem" with pets, they get right into your hearts and leave a hole when they are no longer with a person physically.

    What a sweetie Fizzgig is. She will help mend the broken heart.

  4. yep- Fizzgig's got us pretty well trained already LOL.