Dear Dixie

1468800_843481833585_1243191480_nOne year since you, Dix. Dixie Chick of Shadowland White. Dixalicious. Chunk with the Junk in Her Trunk. My Snuggleupagus.

I still miss you every every every day, especially when I’m walking home after work. I used to get home and launch into a frustrated rant about work or slow walkers or silent filibusters. You’d sit at my feet, shifting back and forth, if necessary, as I paced, twitching the very tip of your tail hopefully, like you always did. When you got impatient, you’d put your paw up on my knee, like, “excuse me, down here, hi, hi, hello!” I’d finally get the message, and I’d kneel down to greet you and instantly forget all my troubles.

When I scratched your ears, rubbed your belly, or snuggled your scruff, your comfort and happiness comforted me and made me happy. I believe you knew that, and that you felt the same way.

I loved knowing—usually—what you needed from me, and that I could provide it. And you could always give back what I needed most from you. Could you read my mind and know what I was feeling? I’m not entirely sure about that. I think it just worked out that what was best for you was best for me; that’s enough for me to know that our bond was special—honest, generous, affectionate, and loyal.IMG_4797

I’ve faced some tough times in the last year. When I’m sad, sick, or tired, I miss you terribly. When I can’t sleep or concentrate, I remember your thunderous snoring and the insistent, reassuring press of your forehead, chin, or rump against me. When I feel weak or hopeless, I remember your steady gait and your patient gaze. But I also miss you when I’m happiest, because feeling safe, peaceful, or loved always reminds me of you.

A few fantastic things have come my way this year, too—four of them are other Shadowland labs, including your granddaughter, Birdie Balderdash!

Ida Run-A-Muck & Birdie "The Bird" Balderdash of ShadowlandNovember 2015Ida Run-A-Muck & Birdie “The Bird” Balderdash of Shadowland, November 2015

Your wonderful pawrents Karen and Craig have sent Birdie, along with young ladies named Ida, Sally, and Shirley, to visit me, and Mom and Dad, for sleepover weekends when we’ve needed some labrador love in the house.

12742131_10100210970829665_4083055946047667566_nSisters (yes, littermates!) Sally and Shirley of Shadowland, February 2016

Shadowland is in very good paws with those girls! We feel so lucky to be part of the extended Shadowland family, thanks to you. Karen and Craig adored you; I’m so grateful that they shared you with me.

Right after you died, I worried a lot about where you might be and if you were okay there. It tore up my heart to think about you being somewhere unfamiliar, not sure what to do, lonely, waiting for me, and wondering why I didn’t come. On bad days, I felt so guilty, angry, helpless, and sad that I looked forward to the “good” days when just the sadness, on its own, felt tolerable. A year later, I think I’ve finally come to believe that wherever you are, you’re safe and content, and comfortable enough to roll belly-up when you’re dreaming. Now, I’m just hoping I get to be with you again someday, there, wherever there is. I know you’ll wait for me.


It’s been a very warm March week, the kind of days you would have liked to spending lying on the deck, baking in the sun. Even before it registered that this anniversary was approaching so quickly, I’d found myself thinking about how much you loved to do that and wishing you were here to enjoy this weather. Making you happy was not only a delight, but a point of pride! I hadn’t grasped that facet of love so thoroughly until I loved you; you probably understood it all along.


So, wherever you are, know that I’m thinking about you, which is kind of like petting you with my mind. Thank you for being my best friend. I promise that I’m okay and I’m ready to love another dog full-time, just as soon as I’m allowed to bring one home! I’m so proud of you for overcoming your fear of cutlery and for becoming the Dog of the House after Maggie was gone. You did a great job looking after Mom and Dad. Please say ‘hi’ to Maggie for me. You’re a good, good girl. I love you, Dix.


Your Girl, Emily