Perhaps in my most manipulative move ever, one day 12 years ago when driving up to my parents house from the city, I mentioned to Phil I wanted to stop by a farm nearby before we headed home. He asked why and I said “oh, there are just some puppies that looked cute and I want to go see them, maybe pet them a bit.” I mean, duh, right? I didn’t fool him. My sister heard my plan and came along as well.
We arrive, and go to the barn where there are at least 8 puppies romping around. They were 5 or 6 weeks old at the time. Yellow labs. Fluffy. Ridiculous. Unbelieveably cute. There was one boy that was sitting there with the biggest, dumbest look on his face, his paws huge, and his color more gold toned than yellow. He’s the one I instantly wanted. But when I told Phil, he said “Nope, it’s THAT one in the corner.” I looked over to see a very light colored girl who was watching her brothers and sisters with this look on her face that said “seriously, I don’t know what all the fighting and romping is about. Just chill out already.” And she was the perfect choice. (That big doofy boy ended up with my sister!) At the time, the Dukes of Hazzard movie was about to come out and my lovely boyfriend (at the time) had an unhealthy crush on Jessica Simpson. He wanted to name the puppy after her. Immediately nixed, I suggested Daisy Duke instead, and he quickly agreed that was it.
I know everyone says it. “My dog is the best dog ever, so sweet and chill and loving.” I get it. Your dog might be the best ever to YOU. . . but that means you’ve probably never met Daisy. Her wrinkled forehead ever present, she became so much more to our family that just a pet, even more than just “the best dog ever”. She cared. She felt. She emoted. She cried when we did. And smiled along with us. Always smiled.
When we lost Henry, she mourned for weeks. Crying. Laying depressed in a separate room (one she never typically went in) until she was ready to face the world again. So human. She had to process the grief just like we did. A year later, she was skeptical of Sam when we brought him home, but she rarely left his side. Wherever he played, she was laying right next to him. Even when he chose to play/take over her dog bed, she just slid aside and let him. Even when he would love her a little too hard, pull her ears or mouth, she’d just lay there and let him. They would stare outside our row house window at the passers by, always together. He’d share his popsicle with her and she’d lick it once unselfishly, giving him a turn right back.
When Bo came, we were in a new house, and she was still right there by Sam’s side. She’d sometimes lay in Bo’s room when I was in there with him, but mostly, she stayed with Sam as if she wanted to make sure he was ok with the changes, that he knew he was loved. She was helping me look after him.
And then Bo became mobile, and he didn’t stop moving. Always tumbling over her, loving on her like Sam had – too hard. She’d just shake her head and stay still so he wouldn’t get hurt or thrown by sudden movement.
In the years that followed, she kept her sweet puppy spirit, greeting everyone the same, with a big grin, attempting to go through their legs in hopes of a butt rub, tail wagging so fast you’d think it would tire much faster than it did. She would have let a burglar in and poured him a cup of coffee. She loved having people over.
After falling this week, for the 4th time in 2 months, I knew she was old. She couldn’t walk on her back legs at all…pulling herself into crow pose to hobble a few steps here and there. What I didn’t know, is that she’d lost 8 lbs in 2 months, and what we thought was a ripped paw pad on her back left foot was actually an aggressive tumor. I knew she’d been eating less and in my gut I felt the weight of that meaning; but ignorance is a blessing for some of us, and I wasn’t ready to face a potential reality I didn’t want to face. X-rays confirmed our vet’s suspicions that it had already spread to her body in other places, and just like that I heard the words “quality of life” and “no good possible outcome” and “prevent any further suffering” and “euthanize”.
I cried the whole way home from picking her up at the vet. And most of the way there if I’m being honest. Thinking what the hell? If she wouldn’t have fallen down the stairs, I would have put off taking her in for as long as possible. Do we have to do this? Now? Can we wait until she’s really suffering from this? What about the boys? Can I really live in a house with no dog around?
That night, around 1:30 am as I lay with her, I realized that yes. We do have to do this now. She is already actually suffering. The pain meds she needs make her very agitated, confused, restless and dizzy. She was up crying all night. And so was I. If she isn’t on the pain meds, she can’t even use her legs. So was there really a decision to make? No there wasn’t.
If my girl isn’t smiling, she’s not herself. If she isn’t getting up tail wagging when someone comes through the door, she isn’t herself. If she is eating 1/4 to 1/2 of her normal amount of food in a day, she’s not doing well.
So today, heartbroken, we sent her off to play in the clouds with Henry. It was beyond hard, but one thing I do know, is that our sweet girl will find him, her tail will wag like no other time, her smile will return, and she’ll love him with every bit of her big, sweet heart. And I think we all, Sam especially, find great comfort in that image. Knowing they are together in the clouds when we look up. Smiling, waving, wagging, loving.
Bye my sweet Daisy girl. I’ll love you forever.