When we first got Foxy, we didn’t have furniture yet. My dad was in the process of moving out and my mom didn’t want a dog at her house, so I slept in my dad’s empty house with her.
She was a rescue, found on the streets alone, and we didn’t know much about her so we told her not to go on the carpet, just in case, and she obliged. When I woke up that first morning in a sleeping bag on the living room floor, I heard a pitter patter, looked over and saw Foxy at the very edge of the floor, watching me. The spot on the carpet next to me was warm and I realized she’d broken the rules so she could sleep next to me. We were both in a new place and she didn’t want to be alone, I figured.
She was a fast learner. When we got her she could already sit and shake a paw. She learned her new name, how to sit up, how to lie down, how to roll (although she’d need some negging), play dead, and she knew to come when I whistled for her. Not when I was whistling in general, but a specific whistle. She knew to come, but sometimes on walks when she found a nice shady place in the trees, she’d let us whistle over and over and would just watch us from her nice shady place, until someone had to climb into the underbrush and literally pick her up and take her out. She was stubborn like that.
As much as she loved walks, she’d sometimes refuse to go on a walk unless every person in the house came too. If I tried to take her for a walk, or two of us or even three of us tried, but there was still someone in the house, she’d refuse to go past the end of the driveway. What kind of dog does that? But she was determined. So we had a lot of family walks because of her. Of course, once we were all on a walk she had no qualms about ditching us to explore…
We’d been told she was still working on her housetraining and the first thing we did when we got home was take her for a short walk. We met the neighbours’ new puppy, a cocker spaniel named Wilson, and she tolerated him until he jumped on her and she snapped at him. She was already about eight years old when we got her, and I imagined her as an older lady in dog form. The “Get off my grass! I want to speak to your manager!” type, but also the “Would you like $20? And here’s some candy. What a dear you are!” type.
She was our first dog and I remember being uncertain around her in the early days, and uncertain with her around kids. Turned out she was great with kids. Toddlers and babies would sometimes pet her too hard or smother her with hugs, but she never seemed to mind. She just liked the attention. Oh, she looooved attention. And she was good at getting it, too! Not with incessant barking (unless she needed to go out and you were ignoring her), but with a gentle prod with her nose, or by putting herself directly between you and what you were doing, or getting herself under your hand somehow.
I started putting her in front of the camera in some short films, and she was a natural! She did three short films, and was on set for another when the pandemic hit and that project got cancelled. She was always patient, knew her mark, had the right eye contact at the right time, and looooved getting all the treats, pets, and attention from the cast and crew. A natural-born star.
She got better at the housetraining. When we were home, she’d ask us to let her out with a nose-bump to the knee or perhaps a polite boof. It was only when we left her home alone that we’d come back to a wet spot on the carpet. We started blocking off the carpet with the big box our electric piano came in so she wouldn’t pee on it, and it worked. After that, she’d either hold it until we came back to let her out, or use the pee pads we left for her. But one day I forgot my keys and went back in before she was expecting me, and what did I see? She was literally on the piano box! She could jump on and over it the whole time! She just happened to know that it being there meant we didn’t want her in the living room, so she made sure not to leave any evidence that she’d broken the rules. Just like that first day.
She didn’t really play. We got her some toys, but unless there was food involved, she wasn’t interested, and the noise-making ones freaked her out. The only thing she’d really play with was our socks. She’d steal them from the hamper or sometimes paw at our feet until we freely gave her one. She had us trained like that, and collected socks in her kennel. Every so often we’d have to collect her hoard of socks when we were doing the laundry.
She was loving, but also had a no-nonsense policy. Sometimes in the evenings I’d be chilling on my bed with a book or my laptop and she’d jump up and spend time with me. If I stopped petting her, she’d leave. If I pet her for too long, she’d leave. But if I was crying, she’d stay and let me pet her for as long as I needed to.
She was a good, gentle, quiet kind of dog. We started noticing little things like her nose being dry and she wouldn’t jump up onto things anymore. Over the last week things went downhill really fast to the point where she stopped eating and barely walked at all. We had to say goodbye today. Because of COVID, we had to hand her off at the door and then talk with the doctor over the phone from our car, and I wondered if she was okay being alone in there. When it was determined she was too sick, we went inside and said goodbye. She was giving us her classic side-eye, as if wondering what the big fuss was all about. I thought she seemed worried, which made sense because we were all crying around her. But she calmed us as she always does and once we’d calmed down a bit she seemed satisfied.
When I got home my bed felt empty without having her there to cuddle. She would have been there, on my bed comforting me while I cried, and that made me realize I’d been thinking about it wrong this whole time. That first night when she snuck onto the forbidden carpet to be near me, every walk she refused to go on unless everyone else came along, all the way to the animal hospital today when I’d said she seemed worried; she was never worried about being alone. I realized that all this time, she hadn’t wanted us to be alone.