10/16/2013

My Daisy, My Hero

If you have a dog, you know what an amazing heart they have.  They know when you are sick, sad or in need of some love.  They know when you need them and they know when it is okay to leave you,
Miss Daisy came into our lives in 2003.  She was a rescue dog who was abused in her former home.  She was instantly loved by our family, loved and spoiled.  We had to go through an extensive interview process and the rescue group had to visit our home and meet the entire family.
The very first day we brought her home, Grams (Brian’s Grandmother) named her.  It was either Lily or Daisy, because the dog reminded Grams of a ray of sunshine, it was spring, when new things are born and grams loved her flowers. 

I taught Miss Daisy how to sit, the first few hours we owned her.  She wanted to please us terribly, or she just wanted another cookie.  She was a smart dog and knew who loved her, or rather knew the hand that fed her.  I would like to say, she loved me the most, because I always gave her snacks and a warm spot on the bed, but she loved each person of the family in her own way and for her own reasons.  She knew when and where she was needed and that was where you would find her.
The first year with us she went through the same trials and tribulations as a young toddler would.
Eating of the furniture and shoes, getting into the trash cans, barking at the vacuum cleaner and brooms was just a smidge of her daily activities. 

When we would leave for work she would scour through Boy Wonder’s bedroom looking for snacks, then she would raid the trash can thinking that there was something in there her nose would be thankful for.  Next, she would then high tail it to the bathroom and see what kind of mess she could make out of a roll of toilet paper.  After all of that she would then settle down with one of my leather shoes and chomp away.

We would come home, and each time the same scenario would take place, Daisy would roll over on her back, with her ears laid down and tell us everything she did wrong and how very sorry she was.  We would later on say that her stomach was made of steel.

You might ask why we didn’t crate her.  We crated her during the day, when we were at work, but when we would leave for a few minutes we would allow her to stay out to test the waters so to speak.  All of this mayhem would occur in the span of 15 minutes.  Those of you with dogs of your own know exactly what I mean.  She had the best intentions of being well behaved, but then her nose got in the way.
We took her to puppy school, where she learned to sit, heal, lay and come with the best of them.  She wanted to make us so proud of her.  She was the best in her class, then we would take her home and she would jump on her couch and demand that we sit, fetch and lay for her. 
We took her camping once, and found out she was allergic to the grass, scared of the dark and claustrophobic.  Hence to say, we left the campground early the next morning and never went camping again.

We took her to a Doggie Park in the area and she would foam at the mouth and the other dogs would literally scare the poop out of her.  She was happy to run around with the other dogs, but was more content sitting with us on the couch eating popcorn and pizza bones.  We would take her sporadically through her puppy years, but she would never be far away from us and was ready to go home as soon as we said “Home Daisy”  She much rather enjoyed long walks around the neighborhood smelling everything in her path, marking every other thing in the path and never wanted to go home, unless there was a cookie involved. 

We always had to keep her on her leash though.  She, more often than not, let her nose do the walking.

She was a lover, a cuddler but if you were a postman, UPS or stranger she would run to the door and bark, snarl and growl like she was going to rip someone’s head off.  Once she got outside, all she wanted was to have people say hello to her, accept her licks and pet her belly.  Once she got outside and bolted towards a lovely older lady that lived in the neighborhood.  She was so scared by Daisy’s intent of, “Plowing into the old lady and jumping on top of her while licking her to death, that lady was so scared that she jumped on a car and cursed at us in a foreign language.  Daisy only wanted to lick the older lady and be petted.  Daisy thought everyone loved her and she was the center of their universe.  Daisy had the best neighbors.  Daisy would be allowed outside when she got older without a leash and she would make her rounds to Angie’s house, then to Cheryl’s house and then to whomever was living next door to us.  She knew that she was loved by many people in the neighborhood.

Daisy lived for road trips.  If it was a trip to Buffalo or to the 7-11 down the street, Daisy would run around the house in circles letting everyone know that she was going Bye Bye and she was going to smell the world and she was going to get snacks and smell the world.  It took several minutes for her to get her collar on.  Yeah, she could have been trained better, but then she wouldn’t have been Daisy.  We were trained to adapt to her and we didn’t mind one bit.  When driving to Buffalo NY she would settle in on the back seat and smell the smells and sleep until we got to Breezewood.  We would then take her for a walk where she had to smell out, as well as leave her own calling card.  She was the best travelling dog and I loved being able to take the whole family on road trips.  As soon as we turned the corner for Mom’s house Daisy would get all alert and excited knowing she was almost to her favorite grandma’s house.  She would bolt out the door, up the stairs and knock Jo off her feet with her love for her.  One thing about Daisy, she was a bed whore.  She loved sleeping under the covers and on a pillow.  Never matters what bed she slept in, she would make the rounds to everyone’s bed and find the most comfortable one and sleep there all night.  Of course by the time you woke up in the morning, the dog coveted more of the bed that you did. 

She eventually grew out of the chewing stage and we started letting her out more and more, until the day we replaced the crate with her bed.  She loved her bed and would sleep there while we were at work, then greet whomever came home first, thousands of licks, sniffs and tail wagging like she hadn’t seen us in days.  She loved being around people and would make herself at home on whomever’s lap was the closest.  She had her routines that she kept until the end.  She would wake up in the morning, stay on my bed until I got out of the shower, go outside, and taking the cat with her.  Then upstairs where she would plant herself on a specific rug until I came upstairs and gave her a cookie.  She would then always meet us at the door when we would come home.  Her bed was in the center of the living room, because she needed to know what was going on with everyone and she wanted to see everything.  She would greet me when I would come home from the grocery store like she hadn’t eaten in weeks.  She knew when I brought bags home and she had a treat in one of those bags.  She just had to find out which bag.  She loved to eat and would eat until she got sick.  Once while picking up Grams for Christmas Eve in 2003, Mother was in charge of Daisy while we drove to Grams house to fetch her.  When we returned mom was exasperated.  Daisy somehow managed to get a tray from the kitchen table that was covered with Sumer Sausage and a variety of cheese and crackers.  Suffice to say, that was the first time I saw a dog with a “Doggy Hangover”.

She would watch TV with me on the couch, or jump up on the recliner with Brian, inching her butt into his spot little by little until she had more of the chair than he did.  He was often found napping in the chair right next to Daisy, both of them snoring away.  When Daisy would sit with me she had this spot in the nook of my leg, where she could place her head on my thigh and her stomach was available for my fingers to rub. 

Daisy had to have knee surgery right before Brian died.  When she came home we would take turns sleeping with her and making sure she got to rehab and did everything the doctor told us to do.  When Brian died, she was still limited on what she could do.  I still took her to the beach and she got to experience the ocean for the first time.  She had a blast and I could see her smiling, because I was smiling at her.  The next year she was diagnosed with cancer and had to have her leg removed.  Bryant and I talked to the doctor many times about the procedure and how she would fare off afterwards, since she was already 10 years old.  The doctor insisted everything would be fine and given Daisy’s puppy attitude the doctor was right.  I know in my heart that she knew that she could not leave me yet.  I wasn’t ready to be on my own and I couldn’t handle another heartbreaking loss.  Daisy healed up nicely and took to 3 legs like pie.  I started spoiling her even more, given her human food, more car rides and carrying her when her legs couldn’t carry her anymore.  I realized that we took turns carrying each other. 

Daisy and I had a special relationship.  She was always there for me.  When I was sick she would never leave me.  She would plop herself on top of the covers with me on the couch and would stay there unless she had to go outside.  When I went for minor surgery she stayed by my side.  When I had major surgery and came home, she stayed next to me on the couch.  When Brian died, she stayed by my side every day and night. She would watch me when we laid in bed, not worried about where her daddy went, but worried about her mommy.  She would lick away my tears and put her head on my stomach.  We would grieve for hours together and she never left my side.  She would eat when I got up to eat and she would just comfort me without saying a single word.  She stayed with me, no matter how crazy I got or how many times I moved the furniture.  When I would start moving around furniture she would just sit on the couch and watch me,  I am sure she found some of this amusing.  As if to say, “Oh no moms moving the furniture again, she obviously needs to change her meds.”  She never judged me or ridiculed me for the choices and decisions I made.  Even when I brought home two more dogs, Daisy just gave me a “Really Mom?” look.  She was my rock and she knew I needed her.  After Brian died the first two years I was a mess as most of you know. Daisy stuck by me as I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up, she stayed there when I couldn’t sleep or when my sleeping schedule was so out of whack that I didn’t even know what day it was.  She was there when I went through a menagerie of jobs, trying to find that 1 perfect job.  She knew that she could not leave me yet.  I was floundering and she was determined to see me grow and flourish.  She saw me hit rock bottom and pick myself up, she gave me kisses when I felt like a failure.  She was my hero.

She got sick quickly, after an eye infection clearing up she started coughing and not eating as much.  These past few days, she slept more, her breathing became more labored and she stopped meeting us at the door.  She wasn’t able to keep anything down and she was sad.  She couldn’t even eat her cookies.  She slept in my bed that last night, I was up every hour checking on her, making sure she was comfortable.  She would lick my hand, as if to reassure me that she was okay.
Even when I was holding her as she lay, falling asleep for the last time in my arms, she still had a wag in her tail and for a moment her puppy ears perked up.  She was telling me it was okay to let her go.  She did her job and ensured that I had made it through.  I had been at my job for a month and I think she knew it was a perfect fit for what I needed and she knew how much I loved my job.  She knew Bryant was doing well and making something for himself.  She knew that I was finally beginning to heal from losing Brian and she knew that I was going to finally be okay. 

She held out much longer than anyone thought she could.  She was waiting for me to be okay.  I found out that with the cancer that she had a few years ago, most dogs do not live as long as she did when diagnosed.  The vet told me that she must have been very well cared for in order for her to live as long as she did. 

In all reality I was well taken cared for by her.

She is and always will be my hero.

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