“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
On Wednesday, October 9, 2013, I made the difficult decision to put Daisy to sleep. Saying goodbye to my best friend was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but I knew I could not watch her deteriorate any more than she had. She was experiencing regular bowel incontinence and neurological issues that would only get worse. I made the decision that I had to let her go. I felt I was doing what was best for her because her quality of life had declined. I wanted her to have her dignity, so I arranged for her to die peacefully in my arms in a quiet room inside Danvers Animal Hospital.
When I announced Daisy’s passing on my Facebook page, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of sympathy and kindness. Everyone knew how much Daisy meant to me. After all, she was with me for almost 15 years, which is more than a third of my life. Daisy and I were a package deal, so I was fortunate that she was such a well-behaved dog. I took her with me whenever I could, and now I will carry her memory with me for the rest of my life. If I could tell her what I’ll miss about her, I would say:
I will miss our walks and the way your little black ears bounced up and down like bird wings with every step.
I will miss the way you rested her chin on my lap or nudged my hand with your snout when you wanted my attention.
I will miss your polite bark requesting to come in from outside.
I will miss watching you prance daintily around the backyard looking for the perfect spot to relieve yourself.
I will miss peering out my office window to see you lounging in the sunshine on a warm patch of grass.
I will miss feeling you leap gently onto the bed, curl up in a ball, and breathe a sigh of contentment.
I will miss the sound of your whimpering as you chased bunnies in your dreams.
I will miss asking you for your paw and knowing how happy you were to oblige.
I will miss watching you befriend people and other dogs with a level of patience, acceptance, and graciousness like no other.
I will miss the glorious sight of your racing down Singing Beach in absolute glee.
I will miss the almond-like smell of your fur after a bath.
I will miss the way you would find the squeakiest toy to play with whenever I got on the phone.
I will miss the way you could never truly decide whether you wanted to be in the house or out in the yard.
I will miss taking you for rides in the car and seeing your smiling face in my rear view mirror, peering eagerly out the window. (I enjoyed Driving Miss Daisy!)
I will miss the way you always slipped out of my grasp during vigorous brushing sessions.
I will miss clipping your toenails.
I will miss the little patches of white on your feet and how your paws smelled like corn chips.
I will miss the way you put your paw in the center of a plate you were licking to keep it from sliding around the kitchen floor. Not every dog is smart enough to figure this out.
I will miss burying my face in the scruff of your neck when I feel like crying.
I will miss kissing your velvety cheeks.
And, believe it or not, I will miss your stinky breath.
Most of all, I will miss the joy and love you brought to my daily life.
There are so many other subtle things I’ll miss about Daisy–there are too many to list. She loved me faithfully and unconditionally, and I loved her as though she were my child. Once many years ago, when I was talking to my neighbor’s 5-year-old daughter, I referred to Daisy as my baby. Her mother later told me that her daughter asked, “Did Daisy grow in Tammy’s belly?” I thought that was the cutest question. I remember laughing but also thinking that loving Daisy was the closest I could relate to loving a child.
Agnes Sligh Turnbull was correct when she said, “Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.” Not many dogs live to see 15, much less almost 16. Daisy was fortunate to have a long, happy life. And I am so blessed that I could be a part of it. Everyone always quotes the Rainbow Bridge poem, which is beautiful, but my favorite passage is Where to Bury a Dog by Ben Hur Lampman. It brings me comfort and assures me that Daisy, and any other pet I have, will always be with me.