Monday, January 19, 2009

Fancy Was Her Name

She was a tiny black Manchester/Chihuahua mix, named for the Bobbie Gentry song that was popular the year she was born. The name was chosen partly because she was given to us by a neighbor reported to be a retired madam. (In spite of her reputation, I liked her better than many of those who looked askance at her.)

Fancy's personality developed slowly. She did not become the lovable dictator she was destined to be until she was about five years old. Then she decided that it was time to take us in hand and train us to serve her better. She saw that I put a glass of water on the nighstand at night, so she let me know that she wanted a glass of water for wee hour drinks, too. If I forgot, she sat on the side of the bed and stared fixedly at the place where her glass should be, giving me occasional sideways looks. When I woke at night and reached for my water glass, she got up and waited for her turn.

Fancy looks for her glass

Some animals don't seem to care one way or the other about music, but Fancy loved it. With exceptions. She despised Barbra Streisand records, giving us dirty looks and leaving the room if we played them. Her favorite singer was Don Williams. She even had a favorite song by him - Lay Down Beside Me. When it was played, she melted with satisfaction. We were driving down the highway once, with her in her usual middle position, when that song came on over the radio. She jumped up and looked at the radio and at us as if to say "How did they get our song?"

She loved to ride between Cindy and me on the front seat, where she could put her feet against one of us and her head on the other. We rode many miles, chatting back and forth. If we fell silent for awhile, Fancy would place a paw on the arm of the one whose turn it was to speak.

Her idea of taking a walk was to lie on her back in your arms while you did the work. Nothing escaped her notice and it was always entertaining to take her somewhere such as the sea shore where she had never been and watch her reactions to new smells and sounds. Seagulls fascinated her, but she did not care much for the waves that kept chasing her.

Fancy takes a walk at the seashore

We enjoyed her company for eleven years. I'll always regret that I was not home when she died. Cindy was with her and David buried her beneath my bedroom window. For months after she was gone we sometimes thought we heard her crossing the floor, nails clicking. If ever an animal was able to haunt her old surroundings, Fancy would be the one. There is no marker on her grave, but her memory will never fade in the hearts of those who knew and loved her.

This essay was written June 11, 1992, during a period when Mother was writing an assorted lot of memories.

Fancy was one of the special dogs in our lives. I have no doubt that she haunted us and I've sometimes suspected that she reincarnated in the persona of Bebop, another special dog who came into our lives a few years after we lost her. Bebop was born knowing he had the ability to become our benevolent dictator and set about his mission to take over from the beginning. Many of his traits were reminiscent of Miss Fancy and he had the same appreciation for gentle country music and a raging dislike of popular music.


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