From my early teens until about the age of twenty, I read over 30 Dean Koontz novels. As an avid reader of Mr. Koontz, I was well aware of his love for animals, especially the four legged, waggy tailed, golden kind. Throughout many of his novels some sort of dog appears, it is usually a retriever of some sort and is often of the golden variety. While I knew that he had a Golden of his own, named Trixie, that him and his wife loved very much, ( she was often featured in the author picture with Koontz) I was never aware of the backstory of Trixie, nor did I know the extent of the effect and inspiration she had on Koontz, so this post seemed to be the best opportunity to find out more about her.
Trixie was originally a service dog for the Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a charitable organization that provides service dogs to those with disabilities. After years of substantial donations between 1991 and 2004 totaling $2,500,000, Trixie was gifted to Dean by the CCI as a sign of their gratitude. Koontz had become involved with the CCI while doing research for his novel Midnight that featured a chocolate lab that had been CCI trained. In 2004 and 2005 Dean Koontz put out two books, using the pen name Trixie Koontz, Life is Good: Lessons in Joyful Living (2004) and Christmas is Good (2005). The royalties from both of these books were donated to the CCI. Sadly, in 2007, Trixie contracted terminal cancer and Koontz had her put to sleep outside of their family home. Even after her death, Dean Koontz continues to write on his website under the name TOTOS, which stands for Trixie On The Other Side. It is believed, that Trixie was the inspiration for his novel released in November of 2007 titled The Darkest Night of the Year in which woman who ran a Golden Retriever rescue home rescues a dog by the name of Nickie, who ends up saving her life. In 2009, Koontz released a memoir of his life with Trixie entitled A Big Little Life.
Ten months after losing Trixie, the Koontz couple adopted yet another Golden girl from the CCI, although well behaved, lovable and obedient, this young girl was released from the CCI training program because she was distracted by every cat, bird, bunny, lizard, bug and butterfly she saw, while she did not chase these critters, she was hyper-alert to them, which cannot not happen when she is serving someone with a disability. Now, that delightful puppy is a part of the Koontz family, they named her Anna. After doing extensive research on ther background, it was found that Anna was actually related to Trixie. Trixie’s brother was Anna’s grandfather, making Trixie, Anna’s great Aunt. It seems that serving as Dean’s inspiration runs in the family.
“Finally, I must tell you what happened three weeks after we lost our wonderful girl. Each Saturday, when 2:00 in the afternoon approached–Trixie passed shortly after 2:00–neither Gerda nor I could bear to do anything mundane. We walked together, hand in hand, around these two and a half acres that Trixie had loved, visiting all her favorite places. Three weeks to the minute after Trixie died, as we were walking the larger lawn, a brilliant golden butterfly swooped down out of a pepper tree. Now, friends, this was no butterfly like we had ever seen before–or since. It was big, bigger than my hand, and a bright gold, not yellow. It flew around our heads three or four times, brushing our faces, our hair, as no butterfly, in our experience, has ever before done. Then it swooped back up past the pepper tree and vanished into the sky. Gerda, who is the most levelheaded person I have ever known, said at once, “Was that Trixie?” and without hesitation, I said, “Yeah. It was.””– Dean Koontz