my girl

last summer at cannon beach
in recovery after TPLO surgery to replace her ACL with a metal bar
queen of the sofa
her first snow – catching snowballs in her mouth
rockaway beach at sunrise

we all have a story about the dog we love.  daisy has a story.  i wish i knew the beginning of her story, but i know her beginning with me.  her face was on cable access – pictures of dogs at the shelter needing a good home.  we lived in a no-pets apartment on de la vina, not far from the ocean and new residents sticking out like sore thumbs amongst the elite of southern california.

i’ve got a way of finding ways to make things work when some might have given up long ago.  we went to the shelter to just ‘look at the dogs’ and they brought her out.  she leaned against us and that was it.  yes, she had stitches from getting into fights with the pit bull earlier, and her belly hung low from recent puppies (they’d estimated 3 litters of 10-12, wayyy too many) but something about this girl…she was on death row.  they found her wandering a parking lot in a small inland town, aggressive yet desperate for love.  she learned a few basic commands at the shelter and then she came into my life.

while i was married at the time, it was obvious this was my girl.  she instantly recognized me as alpha and every night after work i’d take her up to the santa barbara mesa for a walk along the cliff, then watch her wiggle-bum scooch down the steep staircase to the beach.  she took off after the seagulls and yet i still remember our first time together – over at butterfly beach, big rottweiler cowering in fear behind my legs as the waves approached.  a year later she was the dog that leaped into the water after a stick or a ball.

when i left him, she was close by my side.  she slept on the floor near my bed.  but she was still not a fan of other dogs, still overly protective, still unsocialized. i floundered and struggled in my own internal battle, but didn’t give up.  and it was just like she promised in the book.  one day, my soul just opened up.  and we walked over to the butterfly preserve up to ellwood, and i let her off leash.  i took a deep breath as she approached a boisterous young pup, and then fell out laughing as they chased each other in circles and up and down the bluff.

my girl was next to me as we left california to return to my home state to the north.  i had quit my job, knowing i needed to just get my new chapter started, so i put everything i owned into storage and moved into my uncle’s attic.  for a few brief moments she was allowed on the mattress next to me – until,of course, i woke up curled in a ball as she sprawled over the rest of the bed.  i contracted for a while and when i landed a full-time gig, shortly thereafter i found mi casa.

the house was for her.  i could have lived in any little place, but when i saw the big fenced yard, it was all about our new life.  on the weekends we’d go to the beach or the island or over to chimney park where she made friends with the other dogs.  and then it happened.

she took a bad turn and was on the ground.  her entire ACL had torn in her back leg and if it wasn’t for my recent tax refund on the new house and a credit card, she’d have been put down.  she had a metal bar placed in her leg and a cone on her head and with morphine and some therapy, six months later she was playful. but never quite the same.

when my house was broken into, she made them leave..  and when the stalking happened, she was back in my room,, close by.  insomnia and nightmares and she didn’t flinch.

all my girl wanted was a happy place.  somewhere to roll over on her back and wiggle back and forth, getting a good scratch in.  someone who would love her back somethin’ strong, even when she was acting a fool. she never needed nor asked for much.  a walk, a nuzzle, a rawhide, a soft place to snuggle up at night.

her hair is gray and i’ve had more close calls recently than i care to remember.  people ask, will you know when its time to do what you need to do…i hope i will.  but each night, when i turn out the lights and slip into bed, i hear her get off the sofa and walk the little tap-tap-tap across the wood floors into my room and go back to sleep, this time close to mama.  and when i get home from work, she lifts her head up, her nub wiggles, and we do our wandering around the yard and garden.  i pour a glass of wine and sit out on the deck in the late evening sun.

there is nothing special about my story or that of my girl.  but i adore her and as she lies next to me with her paw tucked under and dreams her puppy dreams, even at 12 years old i see the girl i brought home one thanksgiving weekend years ago.

  One thought on “my girl

  1. July 23, 2010 at 9:01 am

    This is so bittersweet. I love your Daisygirl. I got my Spike from the shelter too… he was abused and from a puppy farm. He is 2 years old so i think he was just an overgrown puppy and was neglected… He was just terrified the first day I got him… but he never growled or tried to bite me. but its been 5 months now and he has changed so much. He follows me around too… i wondered why that is?…but he has started to love my friends too ( who camp at my house most of the time!)

    im SO glad you have Daisy!!

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