Monday, April 27, 2015

Grief: Small Ambushes

Daisy in the center, posed like a rock star on her page from the book The Dogs of Les Cheneaux

Grief is sneaky. It waits patiently for you around corners, biding its time. It can overwhelm you at any point, both in the expected moments and in the small ambushes that reach out and snag your aching heart. We lost our beloved Daisy dog on Wednesday and my days since then have been unimaginably teary. Daisy had health problems her entire life. As a tiny puppy, we took her to get her second set of shots and she had an acute idiosyncratic allergic reaction. As scary as any allergic reaction is, this variety is not only incredibly rare but it is terrifying. She came out of that hospitalization with one ear standing straight up and one ear flopped over, exactly the way our late, lovely Spenser's ears were. We always said that Spenser was her guardian angel through the whole ordeal because Spen knew we needed another furry friend to help us through her own loss. Then, at just under a year, Daisy started having cluster seizures, landing her on a lifetime of anti-seizure meds. So every morning I coaxed her to take her pills, because that is what you do when you love your dog. Throughout her life, she would randomly throw up (usually on the bed or Oriental rug). She was never bothered by it; she was what vets call a happy vomiter and she could often go months without an incident. So I just cleaned it up and enjoyed her sweet, loving presence in our lives.  But eventually her kidneys started to fail. And that was where we were with her two weeks ago; she got dehydrated and went into acute kidney failure. Two days at the vet getting fluids didn't really improve her numbers so we brought her home to love her for as long as we had left, which turned out to be only a handful of days before we had to make the decision that it was kinder to let her go than to keep her with us. If you have a loved animal in your life, you know that, while the right thing to do, this tears your heart out. But we do it because we love them. And so we let her go

But the letting go isn't the end. You have to come home to a house without a piece of your family in it. When I opened the refrigerator the next morning, the first thing I saw was the half eaten can of prescription kidney food with her name on it that came home from her last trip to the vet. Her food dish, which I can't bear to put away, remains shiny and empty. When I take a shower now, there's no small furry, grey body curled up on my towel just outside the shower door, just wanting to be close to me. There's no slender, sweet body pressed against my back under the covers in bed or a furry bearded head sharing my pillow by morning after she inched up from under the covers while I slept. Her favorite stuffed squirrel spent days lying unmoving on the dog bed in the family room until I finally mustered up the strength to put it back in the dog toy bin. When I come in from being gone, there is no stubby wagging tail greeting me at the door (her sister is not much of a tail wagger). Her sunbeam, the one that comes in the back windows every afternoon, stays empty. When the doorbell rang the day after she died, there was only one bark. And no matter how much we used to yell at her to quit barking, the absence of this bark guts me. When my oldest son texted me for the computer password, I wept as I typed in her name. I find myself having to catch myself and swallow hard when I'm calling Gatsby to come in from outside because for so long, it's been Daisy and Gatsby. And now it's not. It is these little things that swamp me. My sweet girl spent her last days on my lap and I wouldn't have traded those final days with her for the world but I so wish we had had longer. The tragedy of giving your heart to an animal is the wrenching loss you must endure when their short time with you is up. I know though, that my Daisy, and the nine years and one month we had with her, was worth every tear I have already cried and those I have yet to cry.  I just have to work hard to remember that whenever the waves hit me and double me over.  RIP sweet girl.


  1. What a lovely eulogy. You have my sympathy, as I know what you are feeling. What a special pup, and so loved.

  2. I'm so sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is definitely losing a family member. I remember losing my cat, Kali, in 2011. I had her for 14 years - my entire adult life at that point. I could barely sleep for months because she wasn't lying on my feet (which I remembered made it hard to sleep when I went away to college and I'd only had her 2 years at that point.) She was the best cat - much like a lap dog. I miss her still. I love the cats we have now but no one could ever take her place. I know you feel the same about Daisy. ((HUGS))


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