For my Daisy All rights reserved (c) 2017-2018 Frania Shelley-Grielen
As I write this it has only been a few days since losing Daisy. Saying it out loud seem
impossible but writing about her seems only fitting. I don't know if this paying tribute to
the dogs who leave our lives would help each of us who lose them but I know they all
14 years ago when Olivier brought Daisy home as a “surprise” I told him he changed our
lives forever – now our lives would forever be punctuated and scheduled by house
training, accidents –ours in not figuring out the house training fast enough, dog
training, the eternal search for the right vets, pet sitters, dog walkers, what time to be
home for the dog, whether she could come or not, -"what about the dog?" –with
everything we would do.
I complained he hadn’t told me before bringing her home. People told me to give her
back (except for one of my sisters who believed as I did that dogs are not disposable). I
told them, no – now we had a dog. And what a dog she was. Sweet, playful, loving and a
spirit that was wise, soulful and kind. She was family, teacher and more than best
friend. She gave more with love and open heart than she ever took. When we took our
first puppy training class with Daisy, the instructor teased Olivier and I about babying
her and called her "Baby Daisy." We loved that and it was one of our favorite nick names
for her along with "Doodle"
Daisy taught me so much about dogs. I learned from her about how to listen to them to
give them what they asked for or were saying and how to ask.
I learned how they can’t stand heat –when we lived in Florida an outdoor trip in the
summer meant a few minutes before it was time to bring my hot dog home. We turned
around so many times with Olivier saying: “we’re not taking that dog the next time,” we
always did and we always turned around.
She taught me about groomers, about paying attention to what she was saying when she
was so frightened she stood still in a groomer's doorway and peed on a return visit. I
turned around, whatever happened had obviously hurt her in some way and was not to
be repeated. We discovered “express grooms “ -55 minutes in full view – I wish they had
these in NYC.
When I took the pet care technician teacher position at a vocational school one of the first
changes I made to the program was to bring a cat and a dog into the class room so the
students could learn how to work with them in real life. Daisy and I took therapy dog
classes so when we went to school we could add in animal assisted therapy and quell the
rigors of working in an office building banning dogs. For six years in a row Daisy was a
registered therapy dog. She passed with flying colors two Pet Partners evaluations and
her third with New York Therapy Animals. I passed too but it was all Daisy – the last
test we got our highest evaluation, even as her hearing was almost gone, she aced that
test being all over checking in and responding to visual cues. She was sharper than ever.
We were a team. Daisy and I taught students how to walk a dog, how to observe behavior
and what it meant, how dogs play, how to put on a leash and halter, how to press the
gum to check capillary refill time, how to tent skin to check for dehydration, parts of a
dog’s anatomy, what a dog’s vocalization mean, how dogs learn and so very much more.
She was groomed countless times for grooming demonstrations in front of the class room
and at the sites my students interned at. Her mid day walks were field exercises in
observing dog behavior out of the classroom with the packs of dog walkers, owners and
other dogs we would see on the streets and in the local dog parks.
Daisy loved coming to class with me she was the most perfect dog when we worked
together. I would bring her downtown on the subway in a pet carrier, the only time I
ever used one with her. Every time she would see the bag come out of the closet her tail
would wag and she would do her “happy dog dance” – a series of play moves and
jubilation. I used to say when she was no longer happy to see the carrier I would know
she did not want to come to school anymore. She was always happy to see that bag.
Daisy loved ice cream, food, especially cat and people food, chasing a cat that thought it
could slink by another cat without being noticed, raiding the litter box, her toys
especially her tennis balls, car trips, being with her people 24/7, trapping lizards (she
was very confused about where the lizards were when we moved to NY).
Daisy loved the kayak, the beach and swimming, she was a cocker spaniel after all, a
true water dog. One time she was knocked over by a wave and some water got in her
lungs. She was wary of water after that. We worked with her holding her in our arms
chest high together for short periods in the water, she liked that. Then, we used a boogie
board she could lie on to hold between us. She liked that too, soon she was swimming on
her own just fine again. She loved being on the kayak so much she would shiver with
anticipation when she saw it. I think the highlight of kayak trips for her was one very
early morning in Clearwater when a pod of dolphins found us and swam along side us
jumping over our kayak as they went along. We were their toy. Daisy wanted to join
them, whimpering for it. I didn’t let her go, I was worried she would be their football –
maybe I was wrong and I deprived them all of a perfectly good swim together.
Daisy had dog friends in every neighborhood we lived in and a decided preference for
fluffy white dogs wherever she would meet them. More than once when I mentioned this
to an owner they would tell me that they had heard this before (I believe there's a study
in that). When Daisy really liked a dog she would give them little patented cocker
spaniel hip bumps. Once on West End Avenue, the receiving dog's owner asked me if
Daisy was spayed. I assured him she was, he shook his head -"I'd get that checked if were
you" he said. Even towards the end her dog friends would give her so much joy with her
hip bumps and doggy smiles you would never know there was anything wrong -
especially in those moments because there wasn't.
And Daisy had people friends too. When we lived on West End Avenue the little children
on our floor loved Daisy. Whenever they would see us together they would plead to pet
her. I would let them take a tennis ball and throw it down the hallway for her to fetch.
One little girl was distraught when her parents decided to move to Brooklyn. She told
them she was worried she would never meet another dog that liked her the way Daisy
did. We had play dates with Zoe for a while and then years later saw each other again.
When Zoe and her parents pulled up to the house we were outside of, Zoe told her parents
she wondered if Daisy would remember her. As soon as the car door opened, Daisy lifted
her head and ran across the open field in between, right to Zoe. Daisy had pet sitters and
we always wondered if they took as good care of her as wanted them too. After a snow
storm in Manhattan, the snow is plowed into high banks parallel to sidewalks. Crossing
the street can be challenge, those banks can be several feet high. On one of those days
Olivier saw Daisy and Paulette, her pet sitter, from a distance. When he told me about
this the first thing I asked was, how they were together, did he say hi? He told me was
too far away but he never worried because when they got to the corner, Paulette picked
Daisy up gently and carried her over the drifts and to the other side of the street. That
was the best report I could have had. I was very happy that Daisy had so much love and
care in her life. Once she was your friend, you would never forget her and she would
never forget you.
The happiest parts of her day were when we came home to her and saddest when we left
her. She was so thrilled to see us home I trained her to get a toy to channel all that
jubilance. When we would leave, she would retreat to a resting spot with eyes downcast
and head down, not happy. When we found out Daisy’s kidneys were failing we knew we
had less time than she or we wanted. It is always this way – God does not give them to us
for long but he charges us to care for them with the utmost love while he does.
I can never know what she bore inside her but I knew her well enough to know there was
discomfort in how she would hold her body at times, a stiffness that came and went.
Jumping on things became harder and she would place her front legs where she wanted
to be and turn and look at me for a boost up. And in those same days there would be
contentment, that full sigh as she settled down next to me, that way of lying with hind
legs rotated out -her frog posture, that must feel good if they do it.
Even so there was so much that I went through with giving her all that she wanted in
the end. When she would not eat I tried everything I could imagine to tempt her palate
and when she went from eating two of those impossible to come up with meals a day to
one the bar got higher. At the end I was up to Haagen Dazs ice cream- she still loved it
enough to eat some. Mostly Daisy wanted to be with me every minute. So I spent as
much time with her as I could. Every minute and told her how much I loved her. She
got very weak and had a hard time walking down the long hallway in our building. I
would carry her to elevator and she would take it from the lobby. Every walk at the end
was to Petland around the corner even when she couldn’t eat the biscuits they would
always give her. We went anyway and she still liked going – she walked faster in that
direction and still made sure I took those biscuits for her. We slept with "wee wee"pads
and she suffered through baby diapers in the end - my little noble girl.
This saying "you'll know when it is time" is never so It's not you that knows, it's them
and as close attention as you may pay to what they are saying you can never know what
they are thinking. And you know they are thinking about this just like you are. I can
only try and do some justice to her with this. And I can only pray that I can somehow be
close to the person she believed me to be. I hope we did not take too much of the good
moments she had left or of the life she still wanted to live because no matter what we
know we can never know this. I wish that it is true that we spared her pain and gave her
a peaceful passing. I know how quickly she slipped over; I think her spirit was so much
stronger than her body in the end.
I don't have the right words for how much heart aches for her or for how very much I can
not keep but still loving her. Part of me does not believe this is real, I catch myself
thinking I need to hurry up to get home to walk her, expect to see her bouncing ahead of
me at the beach, on a walk, at the park turning around to check and make sure we are
there – with her doggy smile, making sure no one is left behind and asking us to come
I believe our dogs love us so very much, maybe even more than we can ever love them;
that's how they're made. And that our hearts and homes cannot but miss that very love
and them when they leave us. In Spanish when you say you miss someone you use the
phrase “te echo de menos” which means “I am less without you.” Without Daisy, I am
infinitely less. I do not know if there is a rainbow bridge but I do know if there is a
heaven Daisy is in it.
(c) Frania Shelley-Grielen) Love dog New Orleans
((c) Frania Shelley-Grielen) At The Blessing of the
Animals, St. John the Divine
"I do not know if there is a rainbow
bridge but I do know if there is a
heaven Daisy is in it."
((c) Frania Shelley-Grielen) Clearwater Beach, still a
((c) Frania Shelley-Grielen) Pet Care Technician
((c) Frania Shelley-Grielen) Hunting lizards Clearwater
((c) Frania Shelley-Grielen) Waiting for her Dad,
((c) Frania Shelley-Grielen) French dog, New Jersey
((c) Frania Shelley-Grielen) West End Avenue Best friends
Paulette and Daisy, best pet sitter/friend a doodle
copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
((C) Frania Shelley-Grielen) Last Christmas