She was the dog of a lifetime. A perfect fit, coming at the perfect time. Imperial and needy, ruling the household, enriching our lives.
Annie Fanny was the dachshund model for Rosie Posey in Dreamers of the Day. She was not a speaking character precisely — it’s a political romance about the making of the modern Middle East — but she was a supporting actress in the drama.
True story: I was going to name the dog in the novel after Annie, because “write what you know,” right? Publicist Brian McLendon advised me not to. When I asked why not, he said, “You’ve already got a U.K. publisher.” So? “Fanny doesn’t mean the same thing in British English.” What does it mean? “Vagina” was the answer. So, yeah. The fictional dog became Rosie Posey instead of Annie Fanny.
Another true story: I was with my mother when she died because Annie insisted.
Mom had survived a grueling five and a half years with Stage IIIC ovarian cancer. By May of 2005, it was clear (to her family, if not to her) that her disease was going to kill her, and soon.
She lived in New Hampshire and I live in Ohio, but I was on tour for A Thread of Grace that spring. Every week, I’d fly around the country giving talks at bookstores; every weekend, I’d get back on a plane and fly east to see Mom. In early June, the tour was over. I packed Annie into the car and drove out to New Hampshire. I wanted my dog to be with me while I was with my mother.
The Portsmouth hospice encouraged friends and family to bring pets in. Annie was welcomed by everyone still capable of noticing her presence. She was cheery and funny, and made me go outside regularly — a literal breath of fresh air.
Finally, on June 19th, the day nurse and I made the decision. From now on, just keep Louise comfortable. Don’t let her surface into pain and confusion anymore.
I was exhausted in so many ways. I left the hospice at 5 in the afternoon. Got to Mom’s condo, picked at a supper, put on a ball game and collapsed on the couch with Annie. All I wanted to do was go to bed, but at about 11 PM, I got worried that the night staff might not have been told “just keep her comfortable.”
After dithering a while, I whispered to the dog next to me, “What do you think, Annie Fanny? Should we take a ride?”
She woke up from a sound sleep, flew off the couch, and raced down the hall to the door where she did the traditional “YES PLEASE GO FOR A RIDE!” spin. So I dragged my ass off the sofa and drove back to the hospice facility.
Turned out that the night nurse had gotten the word. She must have known how close the end was. She rolled in a comfy chair so Annie and I could sit together, watching my mother’s breathing become deeper and more irregular. Annie didn’t fall asleep in my lap. She sat and watched Mom with me, and occasionally looked up, providing me with a quick kiss.
At about 1:30 in the morning, the last breath arrived. Mom had her hands wrapped around a soft toy dog given to her by her best friend, Janie. I had my hands around Annie.
Eleven years later, Annie’s own passing was gentle and quiet. Kidney failure is not a bad way to go really, but we did help her skip those final difficult days. I don’t believe she had more than a few more weeks to live if we’d let her go naturally. I only wish that similar kindness was available for humans.
Now Annie has a new legacy. We applied to the same rescue group that placed her with us so long ago: Dachshund Rescue of Ohio. Kathie Winter recognized our names and telephoned us.
She initially turned down our request for a bonded pair of 2-year-olds. She’s had trouble recently with people bringing dogs back to her and has learned to trust her gut about what will make a good placement. She was looking for a “young active family” with kids who’d play with those two dogs.
That said, she had two others she especially wanted us to meet. Both about three and a half. Both were quieter and less active than the pair we were initially interested in.
It’s been a week since we took Mickey and Sam home with us from the “Wild Wiener Ranch” near Cincinnati. Kathie nailed it. Mickey is a beautiful, young, healthy, black and tan with a gorgeous dapple. Mick fixed on me from the start. Sammy chose my husband, Don, who promptly fell in love with the little brown hurt one. Sam is a veterinary train wreck but the sweetest little guy, so appreciative of any attention and kindness.
They’ve become best friends already. Thanks, Annie.