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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Lost a Family Member Today

Here's to you, Daisey.

You were the runt. The one cairn in a pedigreed litter born a step behind your siblings, a dog that learned quick not to like dogs.

And you gave up your birthright as a rodent hunter. You loved - LOVED - birds. The first night we had you in the house, you devoured an entire bucket of KFC chicken bones (a dangerous meal that you somehow survived.) You spent countless hours looking for birds, chasing birds in the backyard, and dreaming of catching birds on the wing, delicious and juicy. And anything that flew could be a bird - the 747's bound for the nearby airport, the circling news helicopter. You wanted to bring them all down, feast on their wings or rotors. You almost caught that guinea hen (and you were probably better off for having not bitten a frightened but claw-footed bird that easily outweighed you.)

You were as stubborn as a terrier. When called, you had a wicked habit of looking the caller in the eye and walking pointedly across the room to someone else. You knew what to do, you just wouldn't do it. Like when you put a single toe into the kitchen when ordered into the living room during dinner, a silent defiance that I don't doubt you took great pleasure in. Baths were a trial, combings were impossible, and God help the foot that dared to jostle your food dish. And God help the hand that tickled my sister, of whom you were so protective. I've never seen a dog so confused as you were when first you would bite that hand without even growling, shooting across the room like a guided missile, and then look up at its owner with an expression that said I don't like doing it so don't make me do it again.

It was because you were family. I knew I could count on you every time I came home, to bound toward the door excitedly as only a dog can, to whine to be let in my bedroom at night, merely to sleep on a pile of my dirty clothes. Even when you pointedly ignored our attempts to enforce lap-dog affection, you were part of us. I will miss playing rope bone, I will miss how you would curl your entire body onto a single sheet of paper if it was what I was trying to write one, I will miss your frantic barking during summer thunderstorms, and I will miss the plicka-plicka-plicka of your nails across the linoleum, nails which you refused to let us cut.

It's been a while since you were frisky, though, and it's been a while since we could chalk up your tiredness to the mellowing of age. Medically, you had chronic renal failure that gradually took its toll until today, when you awoke up to acute decompensation, disoriented and miserable. But speaking simply, it was time to go. I'll miss you. Some day I'll rub behind your ears with my knuckles again.

For now, where's the birds Daisey? Where's the birds? Go git 'em!

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