It was only a few weeks ago that we had to let go of our little boy Fritz. Yoav and I watched him suffering those last few days, and we knew it was time to let go. After we took Fritz to the vets office for the final time we walked the 20 or so blocks home in mourning. During our walk we pledged that we would wait until next year to bring a new addition to the family.
In the intervening two weeks since we remembered what it was like to just sleep in…. Or go to bed without a care about the weather outside. We put away Fritz’s toys and his bed. We donated a newly purchased case of specialty prescription dog food to a local rescue organization. We knew there was going to be another dog, that was without question, but we kept telling ourselves that we needed to wait until next year.
On this past Saturday we went to go pick up his ashes and spent the rest of the day hanging around the house in quiet company with each other. We decided that the box they put him in didn’t go with our decor (it is a lovely rosewood box, but not really our style) so I set out to build our own box for him. After designing, cutting out the pieces and initial assembly, I didn’t like my attempt either. We already had a custom plaque on order so after my attempt didn’t go so well, we found a simple box on Etsy.
Since we knew there would be another pup, we had on a few occasions discussed names, On the short list… Spartacus if it was a boy, or Mitzi if it was a girl. But on Saturday, I thought we should come up with a name that has a connection to the Upper West Side. We started going over UWS place names, building names, and then thought about the architects of our building, Thomas P. Neville and George Arthur Bagge (known as Neville and Bagge). I suggested we use Neville. Yoav responded with “That’s nice”. Later on Saturday night (after a bit of wine) we found ourselves on Adopt-a-pet and put in our parameters and spent about twenty minutes looking when we suddenly looked at each other and decided we needed to just close the lid to my laptop and put it down. We aren’t ready.
Then on Sunday mid-morning, I foolishly clicked back onto the Adopt-a-pet website and began perusing through the available small young dogs in the NYC area. Of course this was a mistake because we weren’t ready yet. After all, we had just brought Fritz’s remains home the day before. Feelings of guilt began to take over, but we foolishly kept browsing. Then Drake caught our eye. His bio was right on target for what we would want in our next dog.
Drake is a happy-go-lucky 2-1/2 year old, 15 lb male terrier mix. He is a DOLL! He is sweet, gentle, and playful. He loves to play tag with his toys and have you chase him! He would do well as an only dog but would also be happy with a playmate. Drake is housebroken, up to date on shots, HW negative, microchipped and neutered.
He’s young, he’s healthy (presumably), he’s house broken, and of course he’s too cute for words. Against our better judgement, we downloaded and filled out the application for him. He was being fostered through Waggy Tail Rescue, a Manhattan based dog rescue organization with a focus on small animals.
That evening, we had dinner with Y’s parents and mentioned that we put in an application for him. Of course his mother wanted to know what his name was, to which I replied Neville. Crickets were heard chirping in the background as silence took over the table. Clearly Neville wasn’t going to do.
Later that night, I dug out my book on Morningside Heights (the neighborhood just north of us) history and began looking through the index for ideas for a name that was related to the Upper West Side, but also fit the pictures we saw of Drake online. That’s when the entry for Francis Mather Bixby popped up. I exclaimed “Bixby! What about Bixby?!” To which Y replied “That’s a great name!”
Who is Francis Mather Bixby? He was a New York State Senator in the late 19th century and he was a land owner in the area then known as Bloomingdale, named after Bloomingdale Road which is part of the oldest north/south route through Manhattan, and a segment of what is now Broadway. The big deal in this area was the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum located on land now occupied by Columbia University. In the late 19th century, Francis Bixby and fellow land owner and lawyer Dwight H Olmstead started a campaign to force the relocation of the asylum because it kept land values down (clearly, NIMBY’ism goes back a long way). Through efforts driven by political maneuvers and a series of purposefully inflammatory headlines in local papers making the asylum look bad, they were successful in forcing the asylum to move to White Plains in 1888 (the asylum had to build new facilities, so they remained until 1894). In 1892, then Columbia College based in lower Manhattan acquired a large plot of land which was sold off by the asylum. Thus began the construction of Columbia University.
Was Francis Bixby a good guy? Or not? Hard to say as the story is actually very complex, and there there were good things and not so good things that came out of it. In the end, the asylum was relocated, the buildings either torn down or repurposed (although one of the asylum buildings (Buell Hall) remains on the Columbia campus). Other asylum land was sold off to the Episcopal church to build the Cathedral of St John the Divine at the precipice of the plateau overlooking Morning Side Park (so named because of location at the base of an eastward facing cliff of Manhattan shist rock, and the fact that it catches the sunrise moments before the rest of the area).
Enough history, back to Bixby… We met him at his foster parents apartment on Wednesday evening (conveniently located two blocks from my office in Long Island City). We spent a bit of time with him, and then we took him for a walk, and he seemed charmed by us. We also monitored our potential allergic reactions. Neither of us took any allergy meds that day to help us determine if he would be a source of allergies for us. After about 45 minutes, all seemed good. We filled out the paperwork, made our donation to the rescue to pay for him, and headed for the subway. He did really well in his carrier on the 40 minutes subway ride.
I spent as much time with him as I could on Wednesday evening, but I had to head out of town on Thursday morning, so I made the best of it for the few hours I had. It was up to Yoav to take care of him on his first few days. leaving him in the now capable hands of Yoav for the weekend. Since I haven’t been there for his first few days, I invited Yoav to write up a bit for his first couple of days and here is how it went.
My first two days with Bixby
Devyn is away this weekend so it’s just me and Bixby and we are getting along famously. Bixby is gentle and loving and loves to cuddle but he is also very active and loves to go for walks and run around and play. We’ve had him for two days now and he still hasn’t barked. The first day [Thursday] he seemed a little depressed — probably because he didn’t know what was happening to him as he had just gotten used to his foster family but we took him away after two weeks. He was still great. I took him to the vet for a checkup and we walked the 3/4 mile walk in both directions without any problem. He gets a little distracted by sounds and smells but he’s a pretty good walker. I work from home so I had him with me while I worked. He was very good — either coming up to me and being satisfied with some petting or hanging out by himself on the bathroom rug, which seems to be his favorite spot in the apartment.
Today [Friday] he seems much happier. He somehow managed to find an elk claw we had bought for Fritz but didn’t realize was still around and he chewed on it happily for hours. He’s supposed to be housebroken but we had some pee in the house incidents yesterday. I was frustrated by this but the second day went much better — no pee incidents so far and it’s almost 6:00pm. He loves to jump on the couch and snuggle up to me but also spends a good amount of time hanging out on his own in the bathroom — it’s pretty much the perfect balance. I’ve found that if I call his name a few times he will come trotting into the room and come up to me.
This afternoon the elk claw mysteriously disappeared so I got him a large “bone” which was actually beef bladder. Fritz could chew on one of those for weeks but Bixby went to town on it and after an hour it was almost completely gone — and a few minutes later it WAS gone. Hmmm… wonder if the elk claw met the same demise?
I’ve been away from home for short periods several times and when I come home Bixby runs to the entry gallery French door and looks at me excitedly and wags his tail. When I come in he jumps up with his paws in the air. Fritz was not that type of dog and he was my first so this is new and really wonderful.
Amazingly, Bixby seems to know that people food isn’t for him. Because of the apartment chaos, we normally eat on the sofa [the dining table has been buried in boxes since February]. The first night, when Devyn was here, we used my desk to eat since Bixby can get up on the sofa and I did the same throughout the day yesterday. Bixby doesn’t beg and just lies down on the floor and waits patiently for the humans to finish their food. Tonight I decided to try to eat on the sofa. Bixby jumped up to see what was in the bag but as soon as he saw it was people food he jumped down and laid down on the floor for awhile before going back to the bathroom to hang out. Tonight we will go out for a nice long walk.
The first two days with Bixby have been great — he’s a pretty awesome dog and he seems to be getting comfortable being here. Yay!!!!
So, there you have it… Thank you Yoav for filling in the blanks. The vet did a thorough exam, and came up with only one issue, he has a common joint issue on his rear leg which can cause his “elbow” to pop out. He is 17 pounds, 8 ounces and the vet said that is a healthy weight.
As for his Terrier mix? Well, he definitely has some Jack Russell Terrier in him, and probably other Terrier breeds mixed in, but it turns out he is also about half Chinese Crested. Which totally makes sense the way his fur is unevenly distributed around his body, and he has super soft almost bare skin on his underside. He also has hare feet (like a rabbit) which is common on the Chinese Crested, but not on Terriers (who usually have dew claws). I did some googling, and this hybrid is often referred to as a China Jack. So much to learn! I never would have suspected we would have a Jack Russell/Chinese Crested.
We know almost nothing about his background other than he was pulled from a kill-shelter outside of Dallas Texas. I find it hard to believe that somebody would have let this guy go. He is house broken, well mannered, he knows a couple of commands, and he is the sweetest thing ever. This is why you should always consider a rescue pet first, as there are lots (too many) of amazing animals available to adopt out there.
Most of the photos in this post were taken on Wednesday evening except the one above Yoav sent me on Saturday morning. As I look back over the past two years, there are almost no images of Fritz. He was infinitely camera shy. So far, Bixby seems to love the attention, so you can expect to see more of him show up in future posts.