WARNING: LONG PERSONAL EMAIL
I have been really nervous and antsy all week preparing myself for today. Lots of extra tears have been shed this week and while writing this. Sorry in advance for my babbling but it really helps to get out my feelings. It was exactly a year ago today that I lost my soul mate dog, Pixel -- the saddest and worst day of my life. He was tragically hit by a car in front of our home and taken from us way too soon. I still have feelings of guilt and would give anything to take that awful day back. Pixel meant the world to me -- even after I had Lucas and Theo -- as he was my first baby. It seems like only yesterday that he was snuggling up next to me in bed, sitting on my lap, lying in the sun and snoring, or playing his favorite frisbee fetch game at the park. I remember his scent so clearly (I always wished for a way to capture his scent in a jar), how his little paws smelled like corn chips, and how his tiny head fit in the palm of my hands. I miss him so much, it truly hurts my heart still and probably will my whole life.
Sometimes I think I am a total nut because I think about Pixel practically every minute of the day. Sometimes I smile or laugh when I think of him and sometimes I just burst into tears (it's especially difficult when I'm driving in the car alone for more than 30 minutes). It's gotten better though -- I literally cried every day for six months straight and now I bawl about once every 2-3 weeks. I hope one day I can just focus on all the fun times, what an amazing life he had, and all the joy her brought to us and everyone around him. It just seems too fresh still.
Many people have asked if we will get another dog. I especially love dogs and we will get one someday for sure, but not anytime soon. Lucas and Theo love dogs and cats and have asked for a pet several times recently, but I am SO not over this and it's hard to think that any dog could be as amazing as Pixel. But I know every animal has their own personality and I will come to love it no matter what. I just need time -- a lot more time. His bed, food mat, and toys are pretty much still in the same place and I still imagine his nails clicking on the floor.
A few things have brought me comfort this past year. One of them is this stuffed Pixel I had custom made by Sian Keegan "for when that time came". Sadly, that time came way sooner than I expected. I mean, Pixel was 12 but he was super healthy and still acted like a puppy other than the fact that he slept a lot. I was fully convinced (and still am!) that he had at least five more years in him. I used to joke that he would live until 20 at the rate he was going. I sleep with this stuffed Pixel every night and having something that resembles him and a similar shape gives me comfort. Sometimes I would just start bawling out of nowhere and sweet Lucas would run to my room to get stuffed Pixel for me. He is so sweet.
Another thing that gives me solace is the tattoo of Pixel's actual paw (tiny fingernails and bits of fur too!) that I got years ago when he was here. It's placed on my upper inner right bicep, where Pixel would rest his paw every night when we slept.
Finally, I wear a small gold necklace that some dear friends got for me last year. It has two charms - one is a heart with a paw print cutout and the other is a tiny letter "p". I don't wear jewelry other than my thin rose gold wedding band but I now wear this necklace all the time.
Sometimes I feel like I would have handled Pixel's passing a little better if it weren't so tragic. I just had no time to say goodbye. I couldn't even be there for him right when he got hit because I was at work and that just kills me inside. I literally got the worst call of my life at the office and I screamed and cried and fell to the floor. My heart sank and my world ended. My dear neighbor/friend was with him the whole time, the woman who hit him was there, my mom was with him, and a kind bicyclist was with him. I know animals live in the present and he didn't suffer so I take some comfort in that. It's just hard still and he was so very special to me and brought so much joy to others. An animal's love is so unconditional and never once did I take that for granted with Pixel.
I set up a little memorial in front of our house with his photo and some little tidbits about him. I put fresh flowers by it whenever I can. Here's what the memorial says:
Pixel was PURE LOVE and we miss him dearly. Tragically hit by a car in front of our home and taken from us way too soon, he will never be forgotten. Anyone who was lucky enough to know him could tell you how exceptionally sweet and endearing he was. A huge heart and soul in a small 12-pound body, Pixel was more than just a dog or family pet. He was my best friend, my soul mate dog, my little shadow and a true member of our family. He will be in our hearts forever and will always be part of the original Jackson Five family. We gave him the best life and he did the same for us. Our lives will forever be changed because he was a part of it.
THIS WAS PIXEL:
He LOVED hot laundry more than anything. No matter where he was in the house, if I said the words, “HOT LAUNDRY” he would come racing over and bury himself in a huge pile and stay there until there was only one sock left.
When I sat down, he would be on my lap within seconds and followed me everywhere like a little shadow.
Pixel also loved the sun and parked his body wherever there was a sun spot in the house.
He only barked at two things – someone at the door or random stuff that he “saw” that seemed out of the ordinary.
His paws smelled exactly like Fritos corn chips.
The insides of his ears smelled like soy sauce.
Whenever we would say, “Bang! Bang!” he would ﬂip over onto his back. To him, this meant getting a belly rub and making people laugh. It was his only trick but he perfected it.
He was SO incredibly patient and tolerant of the kids. They would sit on him, hug him a little too hard, try to ride him. Not once was he angry ohurt or jealous. He would run away and come ﬁnd me so I could protect him. Or he would give them a taste of his own medicine and try to hump them.
Without fail, he would be the ﬁrst one to greet me at the door, sometimes running out the door to say hi.
He let us dress him up for Halloween.
He always let me cut his nails and brush his teeth without a grunt.
He loved playing fetch with his Flying Squirrel toy and was so good at it too.
He snorted and snored in bed every night.
Whenever I read to the boys, he would jump on my lap no matter what uncomfortable position he would end up in. He didn’t care. He just wanted to be with me.
He loved the beach but would run away from the waves.
He loved running and exploring in the park and on hikes — for a senior dog, he was amazingly agile.
He was a top notch watch dog. Not a good guard dog but he would try hard when he had to.
He would sleep anywhere we wanted him to as long as he was close to us – on top of our legs, on top of our belly, in the middle of the bed, on the edge of the bed. But most nights he would sleep nestled in between my right arm and my belly — my hot water bottle.
For some reason, he loved it when kids threw sand or splashed water in his face. He would always try and catch it with his mouth.
He let us put clothes on him for warmth even though he didn’t like it much.
He loved his favorite soccer ball. He would "nurse" it forever and it was disgustingly wet but he loved it and it made him feel safe and happy.
He loved to chase squirrels and birds.
He loved to hump crossed legs or crawling babies. Yes, it’s true.
Thanks for listening to me today. It's actually been a really rough year for a lot of my friends and family's pets.
Here are some of my favorite Pixel photos. I'm so happy to share with you what he meant to me. I still hope to have a "celebration of his life" party at some point when I'm ready.
Pixel with his big sister Gida who passed away just two months before him.
Pixel in a hot pink cast for his first luxating patella surgery and a forest green one for his second surgery almost exactly a year later.
Bostons in the sun. Pixel with his sister Gida and his niece Switch.
Baby Pixel! He was the runt of the litter and a boy. For some reason no one wanted him for months so I would joke that he was my little rescue Boston. Though he had a host of health problems for the first four to five years of his life -- mange, luxating patellas, a giant wart -- I couldn't be happier or luckier that he was mine for 12 years. I will never forget the day I met him and took him home.
Seriously. So tolerant.
Little Lucas and Pixel
I love that Lucas has fond memories of Pixel too.
One of my sweetest memories -- whenever Theo would nurse, Pixel would jump up on the pillow and be in the most awkward position but he just wanted to be with us. Theo would play with his ear in a way that was really soothing for him and Pixel would just let him.
He always managed to find those sun spots around the house.
Pixel was a total trooper wherever we went.
Pixel "kneading" his favorite soccer ball.
Here's Pixel on his 12th birthday last year on September 29th. We brought him back to his old stomping grounds, Willard Park in Berkeley, for some fetch with his favorite flying squirrel toy.
So Pixel has been published a lot for a dog. Here he is on the cover of the Bohemian (photo by Liz Seward)
And one of my favorites, here he is in Anthology magazine's gift guide (photo by Marvin Ilasco)
Pixel had the best life we could have possibly given him. He was always happy. In turn, he gave us the best 12 years of our lives and memories for a lifetime. I miss him dearly and will always keep him in my heart.