Saturday, August 27, 2011
This is Laxie, our family's first dog. She passed away today.
Laxie was a tri-color Australian shepherd border collie mix. My mom took her home after someone found her wandering around my brother's Lacrosse field. She was dehydrated and under weight, but boy was she happy to see anyone that wanted to pet her. This was always her personality, from the day she arrived until the day she passed.
She was always happy to see people. She didn't just wag her tail when she said hello, she wagged her whole body. When you walked in the door, she was there wagging herself, a toy in her mouth as a present to say "WELCOME HOME I MISSED YOU!!" When she first arrived she was a bit naughty, jumping on people or pawing at them. But she was VERY willing to learn how to behave. It did not take very much training at all before she would politely approach people, sit at their feet and beg to be petted. It was this behavior which allowed me to train her to be a certified therapy dog. She passed her canine good citizen test with flying colors (the testers said they'd never seen such a well behaved dog) and her therapy dog certification just as easily- and everyone she visited loved her. She trained at a local elementary school, and the kids that knew her around the block all knew her name and would come say hello when they saw us walking.
You couldn't say "walk" around her (or "ride" after she figured out she could go in the car!) without her doing her happy dance. Her paws would flail, her whole body would wag, and she'd smile like a fool. She could hear the clink of the leash a mile away. She sat neatly in the front seat of my jeep with her head out the window and her tail doing the little tiny happy wag at the tip that she did when she couldn't wag her whole body.
Laxie knew a lot of tricks, too. She came to us knowing how to sit, and from there we taught her how to shake (with either paw we asked for), lay down, belly up, balance food on her nose, heel (on leash... she never did learn how to walk off leash), go on (walk away from us), come, watch out (get up and move if she was laying in someone's walking path), stay, leave it, gentle (for when taking small treats or starting a walk), and Bang (fall over when "shot" at with our fingers). She knew the "no" noise, which served to stop her from doing whatever she was doing if we hadn't taught her a command, and she knew that "ok" meant she could continue doing what she was doing. She never rushed her food bowl, always sat down and waited for the "ok" before she would eat. She took treats with an admirable amount of gentleness. In the beginning she was very bad about begging, but she soon learned not to sit in "kicking distance". She would sit across the room from anyone with food and very pointedly NOT look at you (or your food). If you set your plate on the floor, she did not usually rush it until you said "ok." She also knew her name, and liked to hear us saying it.
She loved chicken most of all, and she was never fond of dry dog food... but she'd wolf it down if mom mixed a little wet dog food in, or put some chicken broth over it. She cleaned up messes in the kitchen (she even helped mom clean up chicken bones from the garbage a lot... how nice of her). She didn't like to take treats from strangers in the beginning, but after a few years she would take the soft treats from them, and even took a hard treat from the vet toward the end. When I took her to Sunday dog playtime at Petco, I would take her down the treat aisle and let her pick her own, and then let her put her front paws up on the doggie treat bar and pick a few kinds of treats for the week. She liked the mint cookies and the ones shaped like food the best, and almost always picked one of the braided cowhide treats from the aisle. She also really loved snow. When we let her outside, she would just start shoveling it into her mouth like a hoover. We brought in a bowl of snow a few times, and she would chow down on it, and even defend the bowl from the cat.
Laxie didn't have a lot of bad habits in her. We never had to crate her at night, because she never chewed on anything. I don't think there was even one time where she had a potty accident inside the house (and she was really good about telling us when she had to "go out"). She didn't do much barking (at least, not unprompted... my brother was fond of saying "What is it Lax? What's out there? GET IT" and pointing out the window, at which point she would bark mindlessly at it until he hugged her and told her it was ok. I don't think she thought there was anything, I think she just liked making him happy). She didn't chase the cats (unless, again, she was prompted by "GET THE KITTY" and even then, she chased them but only with the intention of chasing them, never catching them or hurting them). She did make a run for it if she was off leash, but I don't think she ever meant to run away, I think she just liked to run at full speed and didn't think about how to get back. We had her micro-chipped so she could always come home somehow. I think the thing she did that drove my mom the craziest was that any time my mom vacuumed, the first thing the dog did was flop down and rub all her big black furs back onto the white carpet.
Laxie didn't have many toys, but the ones she had she loved dearly. She selected her first toy from my sister's stuffed animals- a black and white cat that looked just like our black and white cat. Its head was hollow so that it rattled when she shook it. She was with us for over 5 years and she had that toy from the day she arrived until the day she passed. Her first christmas, I got her a Jeep rubber bone with rope running through it for tug of war- but she was terrible at playing it. She just let you win, and then begged to be pet. For other christmases, she got a stuffed squirrel that squeaked and a stuffed sheep that squeaked. Mom regretted my decision to buy these for her. Unlike most dogs that might destroy the toy to get the squeaker, Laxie took exceptional care of her toys, never chewing them. But she loved to sit down in the middle of the family room floor when your favorite TV show came on, and just start chain squeaking her toys. PAY ATTENTION TO ME. She did have a dog bed, but she rarely used it except to bury her treats in it. She was often very careful about the treats she received, as if she was not going to get another one so this one had to be preserved.
I am going to miss Laxie, but I know she had a good time with us. She was always underfoot during the day, making sure she was near us and receiving plenty of love. Everyone that met her liked her, and she liked everyone she met. She was so very spoiled for treats and good food (the boys in the house are suckers for giving her table scraps). Her last days were packed with love, walks, and the best food we could get her to eat. I'm grateful for the time I got to spend with her over her lifetime, and the good times we shared together. There won't be another dog like her, and I'm ok with her being special like that.
Rest in peace, Laxie.