we lost a furkid last week

we lost a furkid last week

Daisy Collage

This is the hardest blog post I’ve ever had to write. You may notice I’ve been a bit quiet over the past week. On Friday 31st October, we said goodbye to our beautiful staffy Daisy. She was 12 years old.

I agonized for days whether to write this post, but in the end I want you to know – I feel like you are my online family. Some of you may have read about Daisy in my post here, or seen the many photos on Instagram. She wasn’t just a dog to us – she was a cherished furbaby and friend.

It started in 2001, when James and I went to a staffy breeder “just for a look.” The breeder opened the gate, and across the yard towards us at full tilt came the fastest puppy you’ve ever seen. And the craziest thing happened. When she was a couple of metres away from us, she took a flying leap… right into James’ arms. It was like we’d met before.

Daisy set some great examples for how to live life. Every day was a new day for her. She always woke up happy and ready to face the world head on. Daisy didn’t care what we wore, how we looked, what car we drove, what job we did, or how much money we had. She loved us just the same. And she lived in the now.

She was also super intuitive. She knew when I was sick. I suffer from endometriosis, and once a month, she would sit faithfully beside my bed, and wouldn’t budge – not for food, not for a toilet break, not for anything. Not until the pain had gone and I was up and walking around again. If James tried to take her out for a walk, she’d flat out refuse. Same goes for when I was sad. She had an amazing instinct. Her loyalty was rock solid. If I was in need, she wasn’t going anywhere.

Daisy’s anxiety started off slow. Sometimes when we came home from work, she’s made a little nest in the wardrobe by pulling out all the clothes and shoes. Or sometimes she’d peed where she shouldn’t have.

We’re not sure what the trigger was, perhaps it was moving house one too many times, a storm, or something else, but 2 years ago her slightly nervous disposition developed into full blown separation anxiety. I’m not talking a chewed shoe here or there, this dog didn’t do things by halves. She ate door frames, window frames, venetian blinds and walls. We arrived home and she was shaking, drooling and inconsolable. This started happening every time we went out. We didn’t care about the stuff she wrecked. What was far worse was the state she was in.

We tried everything. First, the natural stuff. Flower essences. Homoeopathics. Herbs. Vitamins. We changed her diet. Nothing worked.

Then we tried the drugs. Doggie Prozac, doggie Valium, Xanax and some other antidepressant that had the word “calm” in it and cost a bomb. Still nothing. If anything, her personality seemed dulled down, depressed even. But she was still anxious.

We spoke to countless vets, who suggested everything from a crate to a special pheromone diffuser that cost over $150 (yep, she saw me coming alright!). I nearly punched the vet who suggested Rescue Remedy. But I didn’t. Instead I said, “I’m a bloody naturopath, what do you reckon? Of COURSE I’ve freakin’ tried it!”

By this stage, we couldn’t leave Daisy at home alone, ever. If we’d left her in the yard, she would’ve just chewed through the fence or the gate. She couldn’t be left in the house. Dog sitters were $50 per day, and we couldn’t afford that. So I quit working, stayed home and started a blog. Yep, Daisy was my motivation for starting this website (see how the universe works?). I wanted to work from home and make enough money so I could stay home and look after my little girl.

We even got her a friend – a beautiful 12 year old chocolate labrador. Violet, an ex-seeing eye dog, is totally bulletproof. So chilled and lovely. But still Daisy was anxious, and she seemed to be getting worse.

Sisters!

We struggled, she struggled, but we didn’t want to give up. When Daisy had a good day, she was all smiles and sunshine, and gave us hope. But the bad days were really bad. And I couldn’t even go for a surf, do a yoga class, shop at the supermarket, or go to my aged care job without making arrangements for the dog. It was too hot to leave her in the car during the day (surprisingly, she loved it there). It was isolating and depressing – how do you explain to someone that you can’t go anywhere because of a dog? Did they think I was mad? Several people had suggested we have her put to sleep. I even rang the vet (we’d found a good one by now, two towns over) to talk about it. But in spite of being at the end of our tether, we couldn’t bring ourselves to do it. We didn’t want to let down the dog who had given us so much.

A couple of weeks ago, it had been weighing heavily on my mind when I stepped out onto my back deck and saw a shooting star. A big kid (and a big hippie) at heart, I made a wish. I asked for a sign – a clear sign – what should we do about our poor troubled dog?

One week later when Daisy was diagnosed with a fast growing cancer, I felt guilty – like I had somehow manifested it. It was a devastating blow, but it was also the sign I had asked for, loud and clear. The vet’s prognosis wasn’t good. And worse still, the cancer had broken through the skin and was bleeding constantly – we had to make a decision pretty quickly. We bandaged up her foot and took her home.

And so began the most painful week of our lives. James and I were luckily on the same page the whole way regarding our decision. But that didn’t make it any less gut wrenching.

We decided to see her out in style. And so began the Two Day Daisy Party.

* She was allowed to sleep in our bed. Under the covers. And we didn’t kick her out for snoring (which was quite loud).

* She ate roast chicken, cheese, fresh mince, treats aplenty, and anything else she wanted.

* On Thursday we went to the park, and we threw the ball for her over and over – her favourite thing ever.

* We brought out the Staffy Ball – a special big, hard, rattly number – her other favourite thing ever.

Daisy Staffy Ball

* On Friday we took her to the beach. We swam, played, cried and ran until we were all exhausted.

DaisyTennisBall

* We talked about all the cool things she’d ever done, including her obsession for licking the feet of visitors (we used to joke about handing out socks at the door), and the time she tried to “save” a woman (who wasn’t drowning) at St Kilda beach by swimming around her in circles (the poor woman was scared of dogs too!).

* We gave her endless cuddles and kisses, and told her how much we loved her. We said we were sorry we couldn’t fix her.

When we arrived at the vet in Ballina, there wasn’t anything on the Daisy Bucket List that we hadn’t done. Our vet is a kind and caring woman. We have to drive past a few vet clinics to get to this one, for the simple reason that she’s the best. And so are her vet nurses. And on this day we couldn’t have asked for anyone better. Daisy hates the vet clinic, so they came out to the car and we set up a makeshift clinic room there.

I held Daisy and James patted her and we both talked to her constantly. I tried to be strong but it didn’t work – I spilled bucketloads of tears on that little dog. She didn’t seem to mind. As she nodded off peacefully for the last time, we said good bye and that we hoped we all meet again some day.

Maybe it makes us a little crazy in some people’s eyes, but she was never just a dog to us. We are heartbroken, so forgive me if I’m a little off my game over the next few days. It’s been hard to think about anything even remotely work related.

Having said that, my Farm to Table Raw workshop this Saturday is still on. Having this event coming up has given me a purpose, and I’m so looking forward to it. It will be a great opportunity to surround myself with fantastic people and wonderful food. Like Daisy always taught me – every day is an opportunity for a new start, so you’ve gotta face it with a fresh outlook (and a waggly tail!).

 

21 Comments
  • Roz
    Posted at 21:42h, 04 November Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this heartbreaking story. In my eyes you can have the next week, month, year or more off if you need to.
    To hear how you ‘fulfilled her bucket list’ so to speak was the part hat killed me, let alone when you actually got to the vet.
    I don’t know how you cope and as I have a fur child too, I don’t know how I’ll cope when it’s my turn.
    I’m so glad it was daisy that made you start your blog and I’m so glad I met her in September.
    Thinking of you. Xx

    • Jules
      Posted at 22:13h, 04 November Reply

      Thanks Roz. One of the blessings about having to take Daisy everywhere with me was that so many people got to meet her xo

  • Cher
    Posted at 21:43h, 04 November Reply

    I am so sorry for your loss. You made a courageous decision. You job as a dog lover is give them the best life you can…seems to me you did that. Bask in the memories and love.

    • Jules
      Posted at 22:14h, 04 November Reply

      Thanks Cher xoxo

  • Amy
    Posted at 22:38h, 04 November Reply

    Absolutly beautiful. I am wiping away the streams of tears as I write this. The bond between dog and owner is stronger than anything else I know, and I know this as I have 2 of my own furbabies. I know that I wouldn’t have gotten through some things without them. Mine are only 2 and 1 year old but already I cry at the thought of one day loosing them.

    thank you for sharing and know that there are others out there who would have done the exact same thing. Daisy will live on in your hearts for ever more. RIP beautiful dog. xoxo

    • Jules
      Posted at 22:42h, 04 November Reply

      Thanks so much Amy. I hope you have many beautiful years together with your furbabies xo

  • Heather
    Posted at 23:50h, 04 November Reply

    What a beautiful baby she was! Your connection to Daisy was quite spectacular and your memories together are moving. Thinking about you during this hard time. Hugs.

  • Cathy
    Posted at 00:04h, 05 November Reply

    Absolutely beautiful Jules… You gave her the best send off ever and she will look down at you from the stars always xxxxx

  • Maggie
    Posted at 07:07h, 05 November Reply

    I remember the day that Daisy nearly bit hadfields (the cat) head off just coz hadfield wanted a cuddle but Daisy wouldn’t give me up!!!! lol…..
    and her excitement every time she heard my bike and saw me….
    she loved her people….
    she’ll take care of you, you have a furangel watching over you now…

    • Jules
      Posted at 10:44h, 05 November Reply

      Thanks Maggie. I remember she used to be so excited to see you she’d puke! Good times…

  • Krista
    Posted at 12:04h, 05 November Reply

    Wow. Crying. Sobbing, actually.

    What a beautiful soul you brought into your family and shared your heart,your home, and your love. Your life – and hers – was better because you had each other in it. xoxo

    • Jules
      Posted at 12:15h, 05 November Reply

      Thank you, Krista. She was one of a kind.

  • Carol
    Posted at 17:30h, 05 November Reply

    I know exactly what you are going through. We lost our beloved border collie last year after 14 beautiful years with him. We now have a very energetic 11 month old border collie who is keeping us on our toes. Pets are precious and part of the family and you will always have those cherished memories.

    • Jules
      Posted at 17:37h, 05 November Reply

      Thanks Carol. It’s given me a lot of comfort to know that other people have felt the same way. Yeah, we are very grateful that we have our lovely labrador Violet to keep us company and to stop the house from feeling too empty.

  • Anna
    Posted at 22:32h, 05 November Reply

    This is such a beautifully written post, Jules. I know how much anguish this whole situation has caused you both over the years, and it is really amazing how much you have been able to see it as an opportunity (reminder???) of what you most wanted to do with your life. Daisy was always such a gorgeous dog, and it sounds like you gave her the happiest possible send-off. You guys are wonderful fur-parents. Xxxx

    • Jules
      Posted at 22:44h, 05 November Reply

      Thanks Anna. I definitely owe it to Daisy (and myself) to put my new found “freedom” to good use xo

  • Holly
    Posted at 01:46h, 06 November Reply

    I’m sorry for your loss. It’s easy to read that Daisy was a huge part of your life and feel how much you loved her.

    I loved how you checked off her bucket list and how you shared how much she taught you with her happy attitude and unconditional love. My heart goes out to you and your family. xoxo.

  • Amanda @ Cooker and a Looker
    Posted at 17:29h, 07 November Reply

    Daisy’s last week sounds wonderful.
    Hope you’re holding up alright. xx

    • Jules
      Posted at 17:58h, 07 November Reply

      Thanks Amanda. We had rough few days but we’re getting better. xo

  • Sue
    Posted at 20:13h, 07 November Reply

    Hello Jules, I have never met you, nor Daisy. In fact I only went onto your website this evening due to an article in the local paper about you. What a wonderfully written piece you have done – I feel I know you and Daisy well. Sadly 31Oct is also a sad day for us, as 6 years ago we lost our beloved 20yr old cat suddenly and did not have the chance to say goodbye. I am so pleased you had the week to cherish Daisy (even more) & work thru her bucket list. Hoping that you, James & Violet are doing OK. xxx

    • Jules
      Posted at 20:26h, 07 November Reply

      Thank you so much, Sue. I do feel we were incredibly lucky to have a chance to say a long goodbye. Sorry to hear about your cat ūüôĀ xo

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