We got her approximately a year after Calvin, the unstoppable beast felled by heartworms. She was 2, her birthday some time in October, and I was 4 or 5. Friends of ours, the Hogans, had gotten her expecting that she would be a good hunter, but when the husband released her and she ran off following the trail of anything and everything, and when the wife was unable to teach her the latest tricks beyond “sit” and “off the furniture”, we offered to take her off their hands. For a Basset, she was well trained. She knew how to stay off the carpet (not that we cared about that, to stay off furniture (again), not to drink from the toilet (hmmm), and yet despite this, did not understand the concept of a leash. This was Daisy.
Here she is at the Hogan’s, when we were picking her up. (~1994)
Daisy was so-named for the typical habits of Basset puppies. Bassets’ ears don’t grow much in their lifetime – they start out absolutely gigantic. Puppies are prone to trip on such large things quite often, prompting a saying such as “Oopsie-Daisy!”. Such was the origin of Daisy’s name. Daisy is also the name of a flower which I’ve particularly grown to like, not for its stunning beauty, but of the simplicity of the flower overall, combined with the variety of colors it comes in. That is the beauty of a Basset.
I don’t remember much about Daisy from when I lived in Mississippi. I do remember her getting out the door and chasing her all over the neighborhood, but not much more than that. I also remember her howling. We used to be able to get her to howl with us sometimes. She’d howl when we were gone. She’d howl when she thought we were gone. Her howl, to me, was not annoying. It had emotion. It had a message. She was saying “I am lonely.”. That is worth dealing with.
We tried breeding her several times, because Basset puppies can go for $500 dollars, and because Basset puppies are the cutest things alive. She, unfortunately, did not understand the concept of mating, and neither did any of her potential mates. There was no second generation.
Daisy’s personality was one of those that kind of…oozed onto your feet. In the form of drool. She was very normal. She was perfect with kids and other dogs and whatnot, and would kindly inform you with a growl and a glare of teeth if you’d gone too far. Which usually only involved yanking her tail. Indeed, she was a patient dog.
The move to New York generally did not affect her. She was not a fan of the snow, but was not opposed to the occasional romp.
The only scary incident we ever had with her was one summer morning. Outside on her leash, she lay sunbathing in the driveway. Oblivious to the car backing out of the garage, she lay in quiet until my dad heard her unmistakable yelp. Thanks to her being so fat, the car crushed the skin on the ground, and only suffered minor bleeding.
Time went on. She grew older. (~2003)
And older. (April 2004)
It was probably about this point she began to lose the spring in her step. It was no surprise, really. She was 13 years old. According to the generic conversion, she was 91 years old comparitively. We vaguely tried to limit her going up and down the stairs, fearing her joints would become too worn out. Her visits down to my room became a memory, and I grew very accustomed to clickity-clack of her sturdy nails on the floor above. I really enjoyed hearing that at night, the pattern of the click and the clack was soothing.
As time went on, she began to lose her desire to explore and wander. She began to lose her agility. I had taught her how to stand on her hind legs and catch the treats I threw her, but it was now more impressive for her just to catch the treats. She spent most of her time laying about the house, which was still a very soothing thing. Watching her lay there and wag her tail as you walked up was not much worse than her running around the house at full sprint. She got thinner.
When our family went our seperate ways this June, we left Daisy at home in the care of Sarah Barnard and the Johnson girls up the street. She was being cared for two or three times a day, we figured she would be okay. I was mildly worried about her when we left, fearing that she would not be okay. I came back after about a week of being gone to mow lawns and checked in on her, climbing through a window since I had no key. I was greeted by a dog wracked with loneliness. She had only eaten twice that week. She wagged her tail and barked and gave up as much emotion as she could. I took her for a walk (which she had just enough energy to do) letting her sniff wherever she wanted. This would be the last walk she would take.
I left back for the Carcich’s, and we all returned home a few days later. Daisy was worse still. Dad attributed it to loneliness, which was not entirely unfounded, as she does not eat or obey well while we are gone. It was something more. When we went on the family reunion, we took her with us. We could not do that to her once more.
She had to be lifted in and out of the car, a strenuous job. She coughed a lot and was not breathing well. Because pets were not allowed at the condo, we had to take her to a local kennel. When we picked her up, she was worse still.
On arriving home, we took her to the vet. Daisy had respiratory cancer, which had been developing for many months now. Her lungs were bleeding. She would suffocate to death. An infection in her throat was causing pain in breathing and eating. If this was not enough, she had several tumors applying pressure to her lungs and inhibiting movement. Even still, she had fleas from Madeline’s apartment. They gave us some antibiotics for the infection and flea medication, which would not save her. The goal was to make her as comfortable as possible. In the interests of her comfort, we would have her put down before she succombed to the disease. We were supposed to do that once we saw that she could no longer lay down to breathe. We brought her home expecting a few more weeks with her.
It was not to be. Mom and I spent 2 or 3 hours in the den with her, while watching the Tour de France. Mom and I cried for 2 or 3 hours. This was Saturday night.
We all agreed she would not last the week. It was to be done today. I wanted to be with her when she died, so I left work 30 minutes early. Once we got home, we got her in the car, I grabbed a box of tissues, and a blanket. I cried the whole way there, along with the periodic rain. As we helped her with the walk from the car to the building (we parked in front of the vet’s office), she made no noise. I think she knew what was happening. We got inside, and put her on the scale. She weighed 38.8 pounds. That’s about 10 pounds lower than what she was in January. Keeping in mind that all Bassets are big boned and heavy, she was highly underweight. She should have been about 43 pounds.
She moped towards the room we were to see her to. This is the same room we’ve always treated her in. From the time we’ve moved to Ithaca, she’s always been treated in this room. Maybe there are no other rooms for her to be in. But the fact remains. We signed the forms allowing her to be put to sleep, rejecting the ashes from her cremation. They took her in the back room to shave her legs. The last bark I heard from her was there. She could barely bark at all. It was unholy.
They brought her back in, and we stayed by her, petting her as they struggled to get the needle in. Meanwhile, she struggled harder and harder to keep herself propped up to breathe. She barely had the strength to do this, and continually slipped and slid back and forth, each effort weaker than the last. We pressed her head to the ground so the doctors could better inject her. She struggled, but slowly, began to slow down, her breathing slowed, her eyes stopped moving, her tongue stopped skipping in and out, and she lay still. The vet announced that she had passed, and my dad and I cried there, petting our goodbye to Daisy.
We walked out, and my Dad called two friends to say he couldn’t watch the movie with them tonight. He wanted to spend time at home. We all sat down and watched Gattaca together, ignoring the empty space on the floor that Daisy used to occupy.
For Her, a Queen.