March 08, 2005

I might be off by a year one way or the other, but I think it was six years ago that our local paper published a series of articles about all of the dogs and cats that our Animal Control Center had to euthanize each week. It was a moving article, and it came at a time when I was thinking that I should have a dog around.

Daisy, always game for wearing a costume.

I went to the pound during a lunch break, and looked around. I knew that the ones that were jumping and barking wouldn't be allowed to stay. The size of my yard eliminates big dogs and ones who would need to run. I asked to see the calm sleepy beagle with sad eyes.

Her name was Daisy, and she seemed to fit. Sure, she had some weird scars on her back, and she was certainly more interested in sniffing the area where they had brought us than meeting me, but I didn't like the thought of her ending up like the dogs in that newspaper article. I wrote a check, and we went home.

It took Daisy a little more than a week to accept her role as my sidekick. We were spending the night together on our boat, and I woke up in the middle of the night to her humping me. "Shit, I picked a weirdo," I thought. But when I pushed her off, she jumped into full-play. It turns out that she always used humping to initiate play.

Daisy is not above digging in the trash. Recently, she chose to go through a Perrier box instead of around it to get to the good garbage.

Since then, the two of us stick together. She's tagged along on an errand to a store or to pick up takeout almost every day. She's sat on the sidewalk while I eat at an outside table. She has been to work with me on the weekend. In fact, she has actually pooped on the floor at APPRO. We go sailing, tailgating, to parades, for walks, take naps. We had fun.

When I go to bed, she sleeps in the bedroom. When I'm out of town, she sleeps in the front room so that she will know the minute I get home. When I do, she flops on her back and wags her tail like wild. I always tell her, "You're a good dog. I know, it's not right for best friends to be away from each other that long."

She didn't like separation. For the first few years, when I would leave her in the car and go into a store, she would hang out the window and yelp like she was being tortured. The first time we went together in my Jeep without the doors was to a nursery to buy plants. She went right through the store and out to the yard. I had to follow the sound of her jingling collar through a maze of shrubs to track her down.

My First Mate on Velvet Elvis

A few weeks ago, Daisy seemed to come down with a cold. The medicine didn't work, and they determined that she had an enlarged heart. Heart medicine didn't work either. She lost weight. More vets, more tests, and declining health followed. By the time cancer was diagnosed, her poor little body was full of it.

Daisy got all of the fried chicken strips that she could eat for a week. I prayed that she be given relief from her struggle, and in the middle of the night, realized that I was the one who would have to initiate that relief.

We should all hope to go as peacefully. Her body relaxed and lost its pain for a minute. Then, she put her head down and went to sleep.

I know that Daisy and I will be joyfully reunited some day. But it's not right for best friends to be away from each other that long.