04 Nov we lost a furkid last week
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.
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.
* On Friday we took her to the beach. We swam, played, cried and ran until we were all exhausted.
* 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!).