For my Daisy copyright (c) 2021 Frania Shelley-Grielen. All rights reserved.
As I write this it has only been a few days since losing Daisy. Saying it out loud
seems 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 deserve one.
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 to. 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 along.
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) At The Blessing
of the Animals, St. John the Divine
|"I do not know if there is a rain-
bow bridge but I do know if
there is a heaven Daisy is in it."
((c) Frania Shelley-Grielen)
Clearwater Beach, still a puppy.
((c) Frania Shelley-Grielen)
Pet Care Technician teachers
((c) Frania Shelley-Grielen) Waiting for her
Dad, Pleasant Avenue
((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 could have
copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
((C) Frania Shelley-Grielen) Last Christmas
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