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Man writes moving farewell tribute to beloved family dog

Dogsarefamily_thumb By Dogs Are Family | July 17, 2013 | Comments (17)


Daisy pictured on her last day. Photo: Paul Grondahl

I lifted Daisy, our 14-year-old black Lab, from the back seat of the car. I placed her gently onto a brown blanket spread on the floor of the veterinarian's exam room. Caroline stroked Daisy's gray muzzle, which rested in her lap. It was a week after Caroline's 18th birthday, two weeks after her high school graduation and less than two months before she leaves for college.

Now, another passage awaited, one we had dreaded for months. Daisy became incontinent, and her hind legs began to wobble and teeter like an old broken gate. With each fresh indignity, more of the spark went out of her brown eyes.

Last week, those deep pools of soulfulness seemed to beseech us to let her go with dignity. She was 98 in dog years and we had crossed a fine line between a desire to keep Daisy in our lives and to do what was humane for the dog.

My wife, Mary, sat on a bench in the room and clutched Daisy's collar. I stretched out on the floor and spoke to Daisy in a soothing voice and told her over and over what a great dog she was. I rubbed her ears and the velvety tips still felt puppy-soft. There was a box of tissues and we each began to empty its contents.

We had given the puppy to Caroline as a surprise gift on her fourth birthday. Caroline's face radiated pure joy as a small black fuzzy ball of mischief scuffled behind her and licked her arm. I captured that moment in a photograph.

Caroline and Daisy first meet

She named her Daisy.

This was several months after we put down Jazz, our black Lab mix, at 13. Few things can compare with a childhood shaped by the unconditional love of a good dog. We wanted that bond for Caroline. Daisy was the first purebred I had ever bought after adopting dogs from the pound. We got her from a breeder who worked with my wife.

I took Caroline to play with the puppies on a pretext a few weeks before her birthday, and she gravitated to Daisy, the runt of the litter.

I think she felt sorry for the timid little pup who got pushed around by her more aggressive siblings.

Daisy came with an AKC certificate and a folder that included a family tree detailing her championship pedigree. I lost the paperwork, but the breeder had leveled with me. Daisy could never be a show dog because she had small white patches behind her front paws and other slight imperfections. She was a family pet who was never a champion in anything except this: The love she brought into our lives was world-class.

She deserved some kind of ribbon for her appetite. She was never finicky and ate the same brand of dry dog food her entire life. When she heard the nuggets hit her stainless steel bowl, she began to perform what we called "the dinner dance." It was a spinning, whirling dervish motion in which all four paws lost contact with the ground. She could Hoover a cup's worth in less than 30 seconds. Even in her final days, she did the dinner dance, a slow and creaky version with a single rotation, before plowing into her food. She never left anything in the bowl.

Caroline and Daisy always smiling

I left her in the garage once after we moved into our new house when Daisy was 3 years old and she chewed off long strips of drywall tape and joint compound. She never destroyed shoes we left around the house, except for the plastic tips of the shoelaces in my running sneakers. I caught her crunching those a few times like so many cashews. If I tried to scold her, she would scamper around the house in a move we called "the butt scooch." It resembled a Roadrunner cartoon and spawned her nickname: Crazy Daisy.

Labs are known to love the water and their webbed feet make them strong swimmers. Not Daisy. She was a wader who preferred to galumph in the shallows as she chewed clumps of pond grass. We tried several times to carry Daisy out into deep water and to coax her into swimming in ponds, lakes, rivers and the ocean. No go.

She also had an aversion to stairs. She lived her entire life on the ground floor of our house and never ventured upstairs to the bedrooms. We tried many inducements, but none worked. She slept on a blanket on a love seat in the TV room and was content. Once we rented a motel room in Provincetown for a long weekend because it allowed dogs. I did not realize the room was on the second floor until we arrived and the only access was an outdoor wooden stairway. I tried everything, but Daisy would not budge. I ended up carrying her 70 pounds – four legs locked at full extension — up and down the stairs three times a day. She was usually sandy and wet from the beach. The guests gave us a wide berth.

An obedience class early on had little effect and our attempts at training became sporadic and half-hearted.

Daisy was a jumper and a flopper. She jumped up onto anyone who came to our house in an exuberant greeting. I could not break her of the habit until arthritis did at age 10. On walks, when we passed another dog, she immediately flopped onto her back in a submissive posture. She did not possess an aggressive bone in her body. She even flopped for cats. Daisy loved all creatures great and small.

Caroline and Daisy always smiling

Daisy had champion traits. She was a pro at curling up at my feet as I wrote in my study, immovable for hours at a time. No dog was better to watch movies with because she never stirred.

Each morning as I came downstairs, Daisy greeted me with a full-body wag. I reciprocated with a bear hug. She groaned with pleasure. She brought out good traits in us, like love and tolerance and gentleness. I thought of a magnet my parents have on their refrigerator: "I aspire to be the person my dog thinks I am." We felt that way about Daisy.

In the vet's office, the drugs did their work. Daisy slipped away, silently and peacefully. Time seemed to stand still. We had been there for an hour, saying our long goodbyes. The tissue box was empty. I looked back one last time at the black mound on the brown blanket on the floor. We closed the door quietly behind us and carried out into the lengthening shadows the memory of a great dog, our beloved Daisy, a true champion in the things that mattered.


~Written by Paul Grondahl

Paul Grondahl is a writer with the Times Union and can be reached by email at pgrondahl@timesunion.com. "Saying goodbye to Daisy, a great family dog" was originally published in the Times Union and has been reprinted with permission from the author.


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Comments on this Article

So sorry for your loss. Daisy was a beautiful girl, she must of been a very happy dog. She was the champion you needed her to be, which is better than any "prize winner". She won your heart, my friend, that's all that matters. I'll pray for you and Daisy, we'll all meet again at the Rainbow Bridge some day.
I want to offer my condolences. I love her picture. What a wonderful blessing for your family. I pray that the Lord help you get through this healing process. Ms Daisy Girl is in a better place now. She had a wonderful life because of you. :)
I just addopted Tibby 10 days ago. She's already 4 & so good I don't think I deserve her. Hope to have her for many years.
How much love I can feel for Daisy that you had. It is a terrible time when our best friends are sick and feeble and need to be euthanized. As you mentioned she was asking for help so you can feel good knowing you granted her wish. Remember all the good times, they are precious. We have been without our GS Clay now for 11 months and we had to go through the same scene at our vets. And did we cry buckets. And do you know we still do. The love of our canine friends is unique and the bond formed is like no other. Daisy is resting now and perhaps looking down and watching over your family. Thank you for sharing.
I understand your feelings and lose of Daisey. I have 6 Fur babies buried in my backyard, all my favorite pets. A Cocker, a German Shepherd, A Rotti that was damn near human, a street walker who just wanted to go for a ride as we did every day, but instead she tangled with a neighbors car and I sat holding her in the middle of the street as she died in my arms, and then there was Stormy, the mother of too many German Shepherd babies; in her last days, she sat a looked at me with eyes of pain, she would not eat, and she asked for me, in body language I understood, to euthanize her. I almost had the vet shoot me up with two 50cc syringes so I could go with these, my beloved friends. But it was not to be because I now have two new rescue dogs, as were all my 8 dogs, all who love and loved my home so much. At 71, I will die before these two and I can only hope that our human society will find our young black Lab and an 11 year old Icelandic Spitz, as lovable a house as ours. They must sit at their place at the table, as Micheal Savage says. His dog, Teddy, has a place in a restaurant and he eats at the table too or they do not eat. Mine all slept with me and I've had to sleep on the floor more than once. I still talk to the mounds where these dogs all rest together, at home, and I often have to hide my tears. God Bless your Daisey, God Bless you and your home.
There is no real comfort at a time like this.I think writing your story is great therapy,to help you through an incredibly painful time.When I had my Tanner put down,the experience was almost identical,to what you went through with daisy.I felt like the room was spinning,I couldn't even breath,because I was crying so hard.I kept his collar wrapped around my purse handle for a very long time,I just couldn't seem to let go.I thought to myself,I could never go through this again.Since that time,I have adopted 3 dogs,whom I love with ever fiber of my being,and I know I will have to go through this again one day,but the joy I get from my furry children,could never deter me.Your pain will become just beautiful memories one day,I promise,it does get better as time goes by.You enriched Daisy's life,as much as she did yours,and I pray for your pain,and your loss,god bless.
It's wonderful to know that your precious Daisy was very much loved. Sorry for your loss of a wonderful dog. Dogs are a "special" gifts from the Lord. God Bless.
Really strange that this poem arrived on my Facebook page today. Hope it comforts you as it did me. The Last Battle If it should be that I grow frail and weak And pain should keep me from my sleep, Then will you do what must be done, For this — the last battle — can't be won. You will be sad I understand, But don't let grief then stay your hand, For on this day, more than the rest, Your love and friendship must stand the test. We have had so many happy years, You wouldn't want me to suffer so. When the time comes, please, let me go. Take me to where to my needs they'll tend, Only, stay with me till the end And hold me firm and speak to me Until my eyes no longer see. I know in time you will agree It is a kindness you do to me. Although my tail its last has waved, From pain and suffering I have been saved. Don't grieve that it must be you Who has to decide this thing to do; We've been so close — we two — these years, Don't let your heart hold any tears. — Unknown
That is the sweetest thing I have read in a long time... Great read I can just imagine their beautiful Daisy x
god bless you all. I dread the day I have to do the same..One getting up there rhodesian ridgeback and one beautiful black lab. They are such gifts...
so sorry for your loss what a beautiful sweet looking baby . I had a rott that died a few years ago was also our baby and a great friend and protector when he passed it was like losing a child.jasper weighed 175 pounds and was always a happy dog with lots of spunk and personality. you had me in tears just know you saved daisy all the suffering ,and she is romping with all her little furry friends now and will always be in your heart. R.I.P.daisy and jasper ..
Paul, I don't know that you will ever see this, but you and your family have my heartfelt condolences. From your story, it is easy to tell that Daisy was a member of your family and not simply a dog you bought for the entertainment value. Crazy Daisy did what dogs do best; she brought love into your lives, just as you said. She also taught you a great many things, as dogs do when we let them, the most important being, unconditional love of all creatures, not necessarily humans, but creatures. Rest in Peace Daisy, your job here is done. You did good.
As I try to type through the tears running down my face what a lovely tribute to a well loved family member. We are at that very similar stage in the life of our 14 year old yellow lab and know it is time but can not find the courage to make that last final trip to the vets. Thanks so much for sharing your story
Thank you for sharing such a personal & private moment. I cried buckets. I know that Daisy is with mine & all our beloved 4-legged family playing joyfully over the rainbow bridge. She'll be waiting for all of you over the rainbow bridge, free of pain, full of love. Peace to you & your family
This house has a silence that its never known, no running and barking when I return home. There's some toys in a box and an old favorite ball, beside an old worn bed rolled up in the hall. On a hook hangs a leash beside the front door, how I wish I could go walking with you once more.....She's running through the fields, she's dancing through daisies that color the hills. She's running like the wind, past all of life's troubles to the old rainbow bridge......There's an old picture that hangs on the living room wall, so many memories that I can recall. As I look at the face I'm longing to see, I pray to dear god please return her to me. Now the crying is done I'm starting to see, the gift was her life that she shared with me.....She's running through the fields, she's dancing through daisies that color the hills. She's running with the wind, past all of life's troubles to the old rainbow bridge....Now the house is still silent and the walls scream the past, the old girl is gone and she's not coming back. There's a part of my heart that she took ya see, and I'll cherish the life that she shared with me. Time it has passed and a new bark guards the door, turning this house into a home once more.... She's running through the fields, she's dancing through daisies that color the hills. She's running like the wind, past all of life's troubles to the old rainbow bridge. One day I'll meet you at the old rainbow bridge..... You have my sincere heartfelt condolences for your loss of Daisy. Peace.
Love this story. So sorry about your loss, but you have wonderful memories.
Your Daisy is so beautiful. I know how it feels. Our dog is playing now in rainbow bridge
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