Every now and then you have a pet that makes your heart whole in a way no other has.

I have a had a bunch of gold fish and other aquarium pets. I liked them, they liked it when I fed them and kept the tank clean.

but they didn't love me.

My dog Dixie, she loves me. She loves my children. She loves my family. She growls and protects my children. From the mail carrier, the package delivery guy, the cable company. She has bitten more than one on the ass should they be brave enough to turn their backs on her.

She growls and barks at my ex-wife, should she decide to come out of her room and play with the kids for a few minutes.

She's a great dog.

I got her from a friend when his cocker spaniel had an unfortunate encounter with a half-lab, half-cocker mut. My Dixie Dog is now a huge cocker spaniel, with enormous paws. She likes to jump on me when I sleep to make sure I am breathing. I have sleep apnea.

Dixie is a really special dog.

I have had her for eleven years now. Yeah, she's getting a little long in the tooth.

She has knots in her fur from the winter because she cries like a puppy if I go near her with scissors. She hates it in the spring when I cut her hair short so I don't have to vacuum every two hours.

This afternoon I am spending four hours washing and trimming her hair. Not because it should take four hours, but she insists that she gets a break every few minutes so she can enjoy a treat. I cannot touch her while she eats her treat. When she is done, then I can proceed.

If I try and be quick and skip a treat, she howls and runs to her bed and refuses to move.

I love a good challenge apparently.

I have tried to get this task accomplished for a couple of months now, but if I take her to have her groomed she gets super depressed. She will sit by the door and demand to go to the park until I give in and walk her over there. I have to then watch her roll around in the grass for an hour or two until she rubs as much of the clean off as she can.

I love this dog and days like this because I know very soon, I will sit here with my kids out of the house and just pictures of Dixie.

Like the picture of the day I watched her stare down Mr. Squirrel. We lived with Mr. Squirrel for four years. They would chase each other from one end of the yard to the other, year after year.

Dixie could have caught Mr. Squirrel at any time. Mr. Squirrel kept his food stashed in spots all over the yard buried under the grass. He would steal from my garden when it suited him during the summer.

I often found hints of feathers from an unsuspecting quail that wandered in the yard. Dixie just really liked Mr. Squirrel.

Thanks, Dixie, for growling at the right people and keeping me company on a big empty king bed.

Dixie is truly an awesome dog.

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