Our faithful dog of 14 years was put to sleep yesterday. My girl, Fannie Mae… It was so much harder than I thought it would be. And even now, sometimes it just hits me. She was there for my entire childhood. She was our pet since I was 7, and since my younger brother was 4. I barely remember a time without her. Rightly, this blog is dedicated to her. So get ready for tales of woe and stories of love and adorable Bassett puppy-ness.
We got Fannie Mae for Christmas. And none of us expected it at all… My parents gave us birth announcements with a picture of her. And I’m pretty sure all of us were confused. The night before, my grandma kept the dog at her house so it really was a surprise. When they brought her in, she just sat all nice and calm in her little Christmas box. It was perfect.
After we got used to her, we realized she could kind of a little bit be the dog from hell. Anytime anyone left through the front door, she tore off down the street. And for a short, long, awkward dog, she was FAST. I remember my mom getting so frustrated she would yell, “Just let her go!” but of course we never did. She used to sneak upstairs (she wasn’t allowed up there and we had baby gates in our halls and blocking stairs), and not only poop and pee to “mark her territory,” but she got into EVERYTHING. She ate my sister’s senior ball corsage she had been saving (my sister was so mad), and knocked over BOTH my sister’s and my dressers. She was a foot tall! I have no idea how in the world she managed to pull full size dressers over… Another amazing feat for a short dog: my brother came out of our downstairs powder room to find her standing in the middle of our dining room table. It is still a mystery as to how she got up there. One Easter, we all kept our Easter baskets on the buffet we had in our dining room, and Fannie worked her way up there, pulled down an Easter basket, and ate the ENTIRE CHOCOLATE RABBIT. With that whole, chocolate being bad for dogs thing, we called the vet. They told us, “If she looks any more depressed than usual, call us.” but uhh, she’s a Bassett hound. They always look sad… Anyways, she threw the whole thing up, and it was the worst, slimiest chocolate vomit in the world. That’s my girl! One time, my best friend from high school and I decided it would be a good idea to take Fannie for a walk (until the last few years, Fannie was very overweight and VERY unathletic). It was a terrible idea. She got dehydrated and halfway around the block, she got the grossest diarrhea and she just, lay down in the middle of the road. I had to call my mom to come save us. Looking back now it’s cute, but at the time, not so much.
When Fannie wasn’t ruining our lives, she really made every day brighter. When my brother and I were younger (and Fannie was younger too!), we trained her to do a “circus act.” She would climb up this little red slide we had, go down it, climb over our PlaySkool picnic table, and run through a hula hoop. We thought she was so smart, and it was extra amusing to see such a floppy dog doing tricks. We also had this big green yoga-style ball we used in the pool. Sometimes we’d throw it out to Fannie, and she would chase that ball forever. She would bite at it to try and catch it, but it was so big, each time she bit it she pushed it farther in front of her. Our neighbor also had a dog, Sadie. We would let them out at the same time, and they would meet our fence, say hello, then dog-sprint up and down the fence, keeping up with each other. They would do this for even half an hour, take a break for a few, then be right back at it. Our neighbor and us always laughed about it. Oh, and another summer memory; we had air mattresses in our pool, and sometimes they blew out into the yard. We were all hanging out in the grass, sitting on the air mattress, with Fannie. We figured out if one of us flopped down on one end, our dog would go flying at the other end. It was so cute, and every time we did it, Fannie came climbing back on for more. She was so funny. I used to lay out on beach towels or blankets and tan in my bikini in the back yard, and she would lay with me in the warm sun. Those tanning sessions are one of my favorite memories of her, and I didn’t even mind getting awkward tanlines from her shadow or getting her fur all over my bathing suit. She also had these rope toys that she would throw for herself. She’d whip her head and body around and toss a toy into the air, just amusing herself. And each night after dinner, she was go over to mom and scratch her chair until we let her up. She shed like crazy, so she only had one chair she was allowed on. And boy, was it cute to see her jump up there and get settled when really, she was way too long for that chair. My older brother always ran around with her. He’d get her so riled up, they’d be running around and she’d be barking and I’d think something was wrong because they were so loud. He also used to pick her up and spin her around and all of her skin would be pushed up to her face, and her eyes would be little holes in wrinkles of skin. It was hilarious. For holidays, we would wait until she fell asleep and we would paint her nails red. She hated it so we had to wait til she slept, but she was always the prettiest girl at our backyard barbecues. That’s probably why everyone always snuck her food… She was kind of spoiled, mostly because she was such a cool dog. The only human food we really let her sneak was popcorn. And apples! Anytime we sat down with a bowl of popcorn, she would drool on the couch until we had to throw her a few pieces. Same with apples… She would wait for us to finish, because she knew she would get the core. We ate as much of it as we could, then set it on the coffee table to watch her jump up and get it. Her jaw would make a snapping open noise because of all her drool and extra lip skin.
As she got older, her health declined so we couldn’t play as hard with her as we had in the past. She had hip displaysia, arthritis, an awful back, and a load of other health issues we couldn’t help. Despite her not being able to run around the backyard with her, she was still a great dog. If you came between her and food or sleep, she was a crotchety old lady, but she was surprisingly tolerant of us goofing with her. I have big parties at my house a lot, and I think all of my friends would agree that Fannie is one of the favorite guests present. She was too slow moving and low to the ground to scare anyone, and she dealt with us yelling and running around, and she was always excited to see a new person arrive. On Halloween, we dressed her up as a princess (she was short and long, so most dog clothes didn’t fit her right… I bought a little girls costume and cut the leotard bottom out so it just went around her waist), and let me tell you. She was the prettiest princess I’ve ever seen. Since all she did was sleep and eat, we sat on the floor with her to cuddle. She lost a lot of weight as she got older, and her wrinkles and extra skin became even more prominent. I always used to pull her neck skin out and pretend she was one of those lizards from Jurassic Park. And she just lay there and let me do it. One of the best things about Fannie, was her greeting. She couldn’t really run, but she would galumph to the door anytime someone came home. My mom was locked out one day and rang the doorbell for us to let her in. We didn’t hear the bell, but Fannie did. And Fannie could NOT deal with no one letting her mommy in. So she HOWLED. Now Bassett hounds are in fact hounds, but she never really barked that much, and she definitely didn’t howl. Once we learned this trick though, we loved to take turns going outside and ringing the doorbell just to hear our old dog yell for us. It was so pathetic and adorable. When she fell asleep, she would moan in her sleep. That’s how we knew she was finally finding some peace. This was really important to us. She always passed out in front of the furnace in the winter. She would lay so close that we’d be worried she would burn herself. In her old age she lost her sight and most of her hearing. She jumped at loud noises and you had to use a really high voice to call her or she couldn’t hear you. I remember one time, my little brother reached into a pickle jar and we decided to let Fannie lick the juice off of his hand… She couldn’t see though, and after a few licks, she tried to eat his whole hand. I just about died laughing.
A few years ago, my sister and her boyfriend broke up, and we got custody of the boyfriend’s dog. Her name is Beverly, and she is a very sweet beagle. Fannie is an old woman of a dog, and Bev has more energy than she knows what to do with. I don’t know if Fannie realized it, or just didn’t care, but they became quite a pair. Anytime we let them out the back door, Beverly would bound out, while Fannie took her time. But Bev always turned around and waited for Fannie to get out of the door. When they were out there, Fannie went wherever she was heading at a slow pace in a straight line. Beverly though, would zig zag everywhere and cut as close as possible in front of Fannie and go absolute crazy. But it didn’t even phase Fannie. We loved watching that. Even in the snow, Fannie would drag her ears through the drifts, and Beverly would run all over and jump over Fannie and play around the old dog. Now that Fannie is gone, I think Beverly will be a very lonely puppy. Even though they had their disagreements, we all know Fannie meant a lot to even Bev.
We have had a lot of scares about putting Fannie to sleep because of her various health issues. We called her the Dog with a Million Lives. Even joking around about it though, we knew the time was getting closer. When her medicine stopped working, there was nothing else we could do. Even with time to prepare, no one was ready to lose her. The whole family (minus my sister, she lives in NYC so she couldn’t be there) loaded up the van and took her to the vet to say goodbye. We sat on the floor with her and gave her as much love as possible. She had an amazing last weekend: cuddles from everyone, ham on Easter, photo shoots… We knew it was the right decision, but when she lay down after the injection… All of us were crying. She moaned, just like she did when she was content falling asleep. We knew she was gone, but the vet checked heart and told us. She gave both my mom and I a hug (neither of us could control our tears) and left us to say our final, final goodbye. We all pet her floppy ears and her super soft sides, and gave her a kiss on the forehead. I probably never would’ve stopped crying if we had stayed any longer.
I’m crying even now, just writing this blog. I know some of these stories and memories might sound silly or pointless, but she really was my childhood. That dog helped raise me, and I am so thankful to have had her. I know it’s gonna be a while before there’s another puppy in my life, but I don’t mind. Fannie Mae will always have my heart. I love you Fannie ❤
PS, I’m writing this in the car on the way to NYC to visit my sister, on my phone, so I can’t very well post many pictures. As soon as I get a chance though, I promise you’ll get to see my favorite photos of Fannie.