Grief is a sacred journey

Goodbye, My Miss Daisy

She looks up at me with sorrowful shame-filled eyes. I’m sorry, her eyes say. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

Daisy Mansfield, April 2012, Dog's End of Life

“Oh Daisy-Girl, it’s OK,” I croon. Her eyes squint with worry. She has squirmed herself off her towel-covered bed, off her rubber mats, into the middle of the polished pine floor where she lies like a beached whale in a pool of urine, her legs and belly soaked.

“Ok, Daisy-Girl, I’ll help you,” I singsong in the voice she loves. Her tail does not wag. I put my arms around her waist as I often do and lift. She squeals. I try another position. She whimpers and cringes. I can’t leave her in the middle of the hard floor, so I slide a towel under her and pull her toward her rubber mats hoping she can get footing. She moans as I inch her 60 lb body across the floor and onto her foam bed.

I’ve been keeping this sweet old girl going for over a year now even though she has no bowel control and can barely walk. Daisy was my live-in friend through Vic’s illness and death, walking with me, staying close, easing my grief with her companionship. Until today, Daisy enjoyed her crunchies, got excited about visitors, and enjoyed sniffing around the front yard on warm days. Until yesterday, she got out the door with my help, but we’ve crossed the divide.

Thirteen years ago, my husband Vic and I drove a hundred miles to get a chocolate Labrador puppy. When we got to the home of the backyard breeder, the chocolate Lab mother was emaciated from nursing her seven pups. A robust yellow Lab mother nursed her own creamy litter of eight along with the seven chocolate pups. When the yellow mama pushed a stick into my hand and begged me to throw it in the pond, I knew we wanted a pup whose mother had that kind of vitality.

That day, I sat on the floor next to a pile of fourteen snoozing puppies in their milky haze. One yellow pup sat apart from the others and watched me. When she yipped and nibbled my toes, Vic and I said yes to Daisy, our sturdy strong wildflower.

After dragging my old girl back to her bed, I understand that she is not getting up again, no matter what I do to help. I’ve been saying not yet for over a year, but now it’s time. I call the vet

“I can euthanize her at your place tomorrow morning,” my vet tells me. I’m relieved that Daisy and I will share one last night.

***

For more about bereavement, please go to the bereavement section of my website.

10 Comments
  1. Elaine,
    I send you warm hugs as you say goodbye to your beloved Miss Daisy. You are a brave, brave woman.
    Love,
    Gail

  2. Oh, dear, Elaine. I’m so sorry. I had almost the exact same experience with my dear 14 year old golden retriever, Bear. It was so terribly hard to make that decision, and then harder still to drive away from the vet’s. I cried all the way home and every time I thought about him for weeks after.

    But there is an amazing sidebar that makes his death a bit more palatable to me. Four days after he passed, I was awakened in the middle of the night by two hearty barks, Bear’s barks. I jumped out of bed and ran halfway down the stairs before I remembered he was gone. He had been barking like that for months when he wanted to go out at night.

    The same thing happened off and on for about 6 more months. It always happened when I was in a half-waking/half-dreaming state, so I suppose it was a sort of waking dream sent by my unconscious self. Of course, it’s possible there’s another explanation, but either way I found it very comforting! May Daisy find a way to get through to you in the coming months as you try to find ways to fill the big spaces she’s left.

    Love,
    Jeanie

    • Hi Jeanie, How wonderful that you have a continuing sense of connection with Bear.
      I’ve seen Daisy in my dreams and often visit the place where I buried her ashes in the woods. My son’s partner gave me a small stone grave marker with a carved daisy flower. This time of year there are wild daisies growing everywhere here, so I put my old dog’s namesake flower at her grave. My young dog Willow and I stay close to each other without Daisy around, but it’s not the same without our threesome. Still, it was time for Daisy to move on.
      Our pets teach us deep lessons about love, loss, and mortality. May there will always be a dog friend at your side.

  3. Daisy, loyal love, dear friend. Full life, woodsy runs, meadow leapings, deer chasing, curled up by the wood stove, at your feet by the couch, rope pulling and nuzzling one. Sweet and tender end. Love revealing words.

    • Dear Lauren, you knew Daisy well throughout her life and took long walk with us for many years. I hear Bob Hope singing, “thanks for the memories…” Thanks for the friendship and love.

  4. Elaine,

    Though I wish I had known Daisy in her more active deer-chasing days, I reflect on her deep love for and loyalty to you when you needed her most. I’m glad her spirit is still there!

    Love, Liz

    • Thank you, Liz. Daisy had a good long life and taught me another lesson or two about love and letting go. Here’s to our dog friends!

  5. Your story about Daisy touches my heart, Elaine, and I’m so sorry for your loss. I went through the very same thing with my beloved Beringer this past August. You can read my story here: Saying Goodbye to Beringer, http://bit.ly/nQLbF8

    • Thanks again, Marty. I just read your loving post about your buddy Beringer. My son’s partner gave me a 6×6 inch headstone for Daisy’s grave with a carved daisy flower. Daisy’s ashes are buried near Vic’s and I take flowers to her, too. She gets daisies this time of year in upstate New York.

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