The tall man and his small dog were inseparable — in both life and death.
Wherever 6-foot-5 Richard “J.R.” Dixon II, a former Juneau resident, went, he was accompanied by his 6-pound chihuahua, Pacino, said Cecilia Dixon, Richard’s wife. So while it was unexpected, Cecilia said it was fitting that only 34 hours passed between their recent and respective deaths.
“Anyone who knows Richard knows he never traveled without him,” Cecilia said in a phone interview. “He would be on airplanes, he would be in restaurants, whenever he went to stores, he would tuck him in his leather jacket.
On the road trip, he was on the dog bed in the front of the U-Haul the whole time, so they were definitely attached. We found it extremely beautiful and fitting that he and Pacino left pretty much at the same time.”
Richard, most recently of Nevada, died with COVID-19 on July 3. He was 52. Pacino, who died in the early hours of July 5, was 15. A celebration of life for both Richard and Pacino will be held 2 p.m. Aug. 1 at Juneau’s Eagles Club.
Richard was born in Haines on Nov. 16, 1967, and Cecilia said he moved to Juneau when he was young. When he lived in the capital city, the Ibanez guitar-loving Richard played in several bands, worked for the then-Rozwick-Giles Music Store and was a network specialist for the state.
He and Cecilia moved to Nevada in 2016, but she said they have friends and loved ones in town, and continued to love Juneau.
“We’re going to be there in a couple of days for his service,” Cecilia said.
Pacino, Cecilia said, joined their family to be a “little friend” for their dog, Tattoo, and his name came from Al Pacino’s iconic “Scarface” line.
Pacino’s last moments came in Cecilia’s arms.
Cecilia said she noticed the dog breathing abnormally shortly after midnight on July 5. She thought Pacino may have been too hot or just be exhibiting fireworks-related stress. However, she decided to set up an emergency veterinary appointment in case it was something more serious.
After a mix-up involving the emergency drop-off location, Cecilia and Pacino arrived at the veterinarian office. Cecilia phoned to let the vets know they had arrived and moments later, Pacino passed away.
“I had been petting Pacino the whole time saying, ‘It’s going to be OK, it’s going to be OK,’ and right then, he stood up, and he walked over to me, and got up in my arms…and literally laid his head on my chest and then just melted,” Cecilia said. “He just faded away. I said, ‘OK, little dude, we’re going home.’”
Cecilia said she’s grateful for the confusion involving the drop-off location, because if she had been any earlier the dog’s last moments likely would have been spent in a strange place with unknown people.
“I took him home, and I was like, ‘OK honey, I guess you get Pacino, too,’” Cecilia said.
• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt