For those of you who don't get loving animals like family, my apologies. This week, however, I am most certainly thankful for eight years with a really sweet-natured, underwear-eating, trash can-diving, doe-eyed, fox-like, trustworthy, love-of-a-dog, my Daisy Doodle.
But more importantly, as I reflect on her, I am thankful for going with my gut. It's no secret I have always frequented local animal shelters in towns I have lived. (And we all know that's been quite a few towns) When we moved to the Los Angeles area, I would go to the Agoura shelter about once a month just to offer up love and pets. I truly had no intention of adopting a third dog until THAT DAY. I had visited all the pens and came to hers last. Honestly, I couldn't believe a dog like her was even at the shelter and was even more surprised to later learn that this was her second time there. She'd lived with her brother, a fireman, and his wife for the first two plus years of her life. After the fireman and his wife got a divorce, apparently she and her brother were left on their apartment balcony during the 24-hour period or more that he had to work. When neighbors complained, he brought Daisy to the shelter. Soon thereafter she was adopted by a woman in her 50s. This woman lived with her daughter and two-year-old granddaughter. Shortly after adopting Daisy, the woman's mother became gravely ill, thus requiring the woman to spend much of her time away from home. After only three months, Daisy was once again returned to the shelter.
I remember petting her for a very long time and not at all wanting to leave. It was close to closing time and I weighed my options, knowing full well I most certainly SHOULD NOT consider taking this dog home without consulting the other half. But would it hurt if I drove really fast down the street to my house to grab Hank & Syd so I could just see if they got along with her? Or was it that I just wanted to get her out of her tiny cage and into the play area with other dogs for a little while? Well, no harm no foul, I thought. But then...she walked straight past my dogs and they could have cared less. Nary a hackle was raised. They stayed in that pen, not giving a rat's ass about each other (in a good way) for nearly 30 minutes. I COULD NOT leave this dog there. She had to come home with us. I was in for a world of trouble and didn't even care.
I adopted Daisy and loaded her in the car with my other two dogs. It was as though she'd always been a part of our pack. Amazing how this girl always behaved that way. She was the only dog to never flinch when a new foster came to the house, even when the other two were snarling and anxiously sniffing the new arrival.
The other half came home from work and I said to him, "I have a surprise for you!" As if on cue, Daisy came running down the stairs, tail-a-wagging, to greet him. My God, he was so angry. He would not speak to me the rest of the evening. I finally went to bed, with Daisy laying peacefully on the ground next to me. I will never forget that night. As I 'slept' I heard the other half come in the room. I watched him through my eyelashes (quite sneaky am I!) as he walked by the bed and then hit the ground to crawl on the floor to my side where he lay there petting and talking sweetly to this new addition. It was priceless and so typical of the other half. He's much softer on the inside than he likes for the rest of us to know!
I endured eight years of him being able to say to me that one of the worst things I ever did in our marriage was to adopt a dog without his permission. And when someone would visit our house--and inevitably end up falling in love with Daisy--he'd joke, 'Take her home. Try her on for size.'
But when she died and I called him to tell him, he soon after sent me a text message that read 'Really sad to see her go. She was a very sweet dog, but it was quick at the end and we should all be so lucky.'
So if adopting the world's sweetest dog was one of the worst things I have done in my marriage, I'd say I'm doing okay!
But one last thing that I am so thankful for with this sweet animal: on the day she died we had relatives from Ireland who were departing our home. I had a strong feeling that morning that things were coming to an end and asked all of the kids to be calm and quiet around her. I laid her on the couch before departing for the airport, and I prayed on the way home that she would still be alive when I got there. She was. And an hour later when I had to take M to a quick doctor appointment, Daisy used every ounce of energy she had to jump off the couch she'd laid on for nearly five hours so that she could come with us. She staggered and fell on the way to me, but I carried her the rest of the way to the car. I could tell by the odd way she curled her body in the front seat that she was not getting enough oxygen, but she was with us--for one last drive--nonetheless. She was unable to get herself inside and did not move on her own after that, but there was something so utterly beautiful and touching about the way she MADE herself move to come with us that still makes me cry just to think about.
I am still having a hard time adjusting to having only two dogs. I can't seem to remove her small bowl from the pantry and each time B helps me feed the dogs he says, 'Is that Daisy's bowl? Is she still at the doctor?' We have talked about it the best I know how and read a sweet book about dogs in heaven. After asking about whether she'd come home from the doctor again today he said, 'No, Mommy. She died.' I wasn't sure how to respond, so I didn't. For 2 1/2, B is wise beyond his years. I don't know what he understands exactly, but I have a feeling whatever it is, it is probably more pure than even what I understand.
And so, with all of that, I will sign off for the night. I can't say that I won't still look behind me to see if she is laying on her bed. And I can't say that I won't still look for her on the floor next to the other half in the morning. But I will pet my other two dogs who are mourning as well and we'll all remember our little lady...the one who never had an unkind 'word' for anyone. Rest in peace, sweet doodler girl.