In Memoriam: Missy Saxton (1997 – Dec 8, 2006)

It’s the sight every pet owner dreads: a tangle of matted, bloody fur lying in the middle of the road. At least she didn’t suffer. We, on the other hand, are a mess.

Missy was a remarkable animal. While I was living alone in a rambling farmhouse, I carried Missy with me everywhere because my farmer landlord didn’t want dog nails to mark up the wood floors. I couldn’t bear to leave her outside (his preference), and his sister talked the man into letting me have Missy in the house. (“A girl living alone needs some company, don’t you know.”) In deference to his sensibilities, I carried her.

She carried me, too, through breakups and moves and transitions. In between the wedding and the reception, Craig and I took our white limo back to the farmhouse, to spend our first moments as man and wife with my “baby.” It seemed only right, since she was the one who first gave her seal of approval of Craig (see the story in the upcoming issue of “Canticle,” Jan/Feb 2007).

Missy taught me about patience and diligence, and about sneakiness. She loved to chase cows, and would purposefully elude me when I called her in for dinner so she could continue her game. She’d sit outside my window and bark — not to be let in, but to let me know she was still there for the taking. On one particular occasion, she was still out there at 2 in the morning, so Craig and I sat on my front porch with a quilt over our heads. Ever curious, Missy got up close for a good look … and we nabbed her and dragged her, yelping indignantly, inside the house. Shortly after that we discovered her fear of lasers, and kept a pocket laser handy on those nights when she needed a little extra persuasion to come inside.

She loved peanut butter and hide-and-seek, and chasing whatever you would throw at her. She hated being left behind and dog food (she infinitely preferred the people variety). She loved our kids, and she loved my husband … but when push came to shove, she would always come looking for me.

I’m not looking forward to the days ahead, alone in this big rambling house while Craig is at work and the kids are at school. I don’t want another dog — not yet. Some things in life just can’t be replaced.

Please remember us in the coming week. Especially for the grace I’ll need to tell the kids their dog won’t be coming home again.

Fondly, with tears,