Three Sweet Friends: Daisy, Spot and Boo
A few months ago, I was getting ready to crawl in bed and looked over at my sweet Daisy. In 2011, she was four years old and had been relinquished by her human, a woman who had just gotten divorced, gotten sole custody of her 3 children and then gotten laid off. Daisy was in a rescue program and I was looking for a schnauzer to adopt. My parents had had wonderful schnauzers for several years and I had fallen in love with the breed. She and I bonded almost immediately; Daisy was always anxious when I left, and so relieved when I came home, that she zoomed around the house barking and yapping before jumping on a chair to greet me and demand some love and attention. For a while, when I was traveling a lot, she’s wail when I pulled out a suitcase to pack for another trip.
On that particular night before I got in bed, Daisy had already setttled in her little bed next to my side of Sherod’s and my bed. She looked small and as adorable as ever so she melted my heart and made it clutch for an instant. I knew she was 11 now, an aging dog, like her aging person. I got down next to her, rubbed behind her ears and thanked her for the joy. Just about every night after that, it became our little ritual. I did not want to take for granted that she was in my life.
More recently, I started doing cross stitch work again and Daisy would jump up on the recliner, settle on my lap and take naps while I worked. As with Sherod, she brought the most extravagant kind of grace through the simplicity of her companionship; in those moments too, I was grateful, mindful that life goes by and we miss so many of the things that really matter if we don’t pay attention.
The dogs took much longer than usual to stir this morning. When it was time to get up, so they could have their breakfast, and I my coffee, while Sherod slept in a little longer, Daisy seemed to struggle. Instead of the little trot that had always been the essence of her peppy self, she walked slowly to her bowl, looked at it and then went and got on her favorite chair to rest. I threw on my clergy clothes and found an emergency clinic for animals in Montgomery. At 6:30, I was flying down the road to take her. I hoped I’d have enough time to find out what was going on before I had to do my church stuff. When I checked her in, they told me it would be a while before they could actually examine her and they’d call me as soon as they knew something, so I went on to church. At 9:30, they called to say her liver was riddled with cancer, she hardly had any platelets left, and was starting to bleed internally. About an hour later, after a quiet visit, where I got to say thank you one more time and hold her in my lap, a kind, gentle woman vet euthanized her while Daisy leaned against me, the two of us together to the end.
Not long ago, one of my dad’s dogs was really sick, so sick we thought she might die that day; Sherod had used his tractor to open a small grave. I brought home my sweet girl and it was the harshest and most beautiful kind of grace to get to carry her body out through the garden I think she always saw as a smorgasbord of cat poop, into the pasture, past Jack one of our resident horses, and to the place where I could kneel down and gently lay her to rest. This was the biscuit princess of the universe so I put one of the biscuits she adored in for the journey. The sun beat down on me on this brutally hot and humid Alabama day, but I was so extraordinarily glad to get to bury her, shoveling the red Alabama dirt that stained her paws after four years of making this piece of paradise her home. When Sherod got home, he used the tractor to push some more dirt over her grave and tamp it down so she will truly get to rest in peace.
She, Spot, and Boo, the three Bandidos, comforted and healed me through the heartbreaking first weeks after I left my ministry and daughter in Southeast Florida. The other two had already gone ahead of her–Boo in 2014, Spot at the beginning of this year. They’re calling for storms today and this evening out here in Lowndes County so I may not get to see the stars. But this I know: tonight, God will be out there with that extraordinary little girl dog Daisy. Daisy will run and fetch stars with her Creator, and Boo, and Spot, and Polly. I can almost hear those little feet trotting back to God, ears perked up at attention, and her eyes shining with joy. Once again, no, not just tonight, but always, I will give thanks with a grateful heart.