A Dog Shaped Hole In My Heart

I got Daisy when I was 31. I was living with one of, if not the best abusers on the face of the earth. He happened to be a police officer which made him that much better at it. He knew how not to leave marks. Every day was an interrogation, a trial, which I inevitably failed at. I lost 20 pounds in less than 6 months. I didn’t eat. I barely slept. Panic attacks became my reality and I started to shake when I knew he’d be coming home. He decided to move us out to the country. I believe it was just to have more control over me and less prying eyes.  At that time, I decided I needed a dog, as an alarm, as protection from cougars and bears.To let me know when he was coming home. And of course because I needed company.

My parents had come to visit and while they didn’t know precisely what was going on, I think on some level my dad knew how bad it all was. Without any forethought and with the abusive ratbastard beside him, my Dad bought me a puppy.

He handed it to me as if it  were a gold-plated sapphire. “It’s a female! There was some guy selling them outside of a tire shop! She was only 50 bucks! She peed on me on the way here but that’s okay. She seemed like the quietest one.” And lo, I had a dog.

I found out within a few days why she was the “quietest one”. She was sick. So, so sick. Didn’t eat, wouldn’t drink. I made 3 trips to the vet, Daisy staying overnight with an I.V., just to bring that poor sick little puppy around. Abusive ratbastard kept raging about how a bullet would be cheaper than that fucking dog. I didn’t care. In less than 2 months, she went from a $50 dog to a $900 dog. But she was mine. The more he tried to crush me, the more I loved the dog. When I thought about ending me, I stayed here for the dog.

I think I’d had Daisy 3 months when I left. She gave me the strength and love to move on. After that, it became “love me, love my dog”. Two years later, she went on the second date I had with my hubby. He passed the test.

Daisy was with me through our courtship, baby and marriage. She was treated as a member of our family. My hubby bonded with her when Daisy went fishing with him and had to lick every fish he caught. When she greeted him at the door at the end of the day. And when we brought our new baby son home, she sniffed him head to toe and wagged her tail, as she finally had her own child to play with.

I kept her here for maybe 2 years longer than I should have. Her hips were gone, to the point that she had to be helped up a couple of steps to get into the house. She was losing her bladder control. Her breath. I made the decision last Saturday. I knew. She knew. We were both very brave as we took our final walk and car ride. She had chicken for breakfast and a hot fudge sundae as a treat. Chocolate is bad for dogs but on their last day here exceptions can be made. I held her and thanked her for all she’d meant. She butted foreheads with me, which was her “I love you and I get it” sign. It was peaceful. And my heart broke.

We went away for a few days this week as a distraction from our grief. When we got home I checked messages. The vet had phoned and Daisy’s ashes had arrived at the office. I dropped everything and told my boys,”I’m going to pick up our girl and bring her home.” They both got teary and nodded.

Tonight is a blue moon and we sprinkled her ashes around the yard she loved so much. How perfect. How fitting for my rare dog.

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. ~Anatole France 

Bye, Daisy. Good girl!

64 thoughts on “A Dog Shaped Hole In My Heart

  1. Oh, my friend. I’m so sorry for your loss and I get it 100 percent. While some less evolved people roll their eyes, I like animals more than I like most people, and every pet is a member of the family. Be grateful for the time that you had and the memories you can still keep with you now. Hugs to you and your family.

    (P.S. We had our 16-year old 10-lb dog cremated a few years ago and he came back to us in this tiny little baggie. It was so little and weird and…little.)

  2. How lovely!! And how sad and touching. Thomas Mann wrote an absolutely compelling (long, short) story that I remember reading years ago about his relaltionship with a dog. I couldn’t remember the title, but I googled it and it and the title seems to be “Bashan and I.” Somehow that title didn’t ring a bell, but I may have read a different translation.
    We, too, had a dog that had to be put down (for a different reason). It broke my heart. After that, I could never get another one. I tried to immortalize her in a novella, which was actually a semi-finalist in a recent Faulkner Society contest.
    So use this passion for your writing.

  3. Oh, I’m so sad. We lost our Fudge in April. My husband has always had trouble expressing his emotions. And he sobbed for that dog shamelessly. It broke me even more than the death itself. That last trip to the vet. Oh it was so hard. But so right. He was suffering. We will miss him, and I know you will ache for your pup for a long time. Fudge’s ashes are in an urn in my daughter’s room, and when she’s sad, she goes and sits under them.

  4. Daisy was more than a dog, more than a pet. She was a miracle for you. And I don’t believe in miracles. It’s never easy when a family member dies. I’ve got one on the brink as I type. Not looking forward to taking that last walk yet again. But we’re all better people because they loved us and I wouldn’t change a thing.

  5. Hi Leanne. I too know how much a dog can connect to a family. Although most likely not as much as you needed to have yours connect with you.
    We’ve had dogs, my last one has a pretty good fellow. The one have now, Tuke, is so tightly a part of our family that when it comes time to say good-bye, I’m not sure I’ll be able.

    I’m feeling for you and your family right now and although you will probably never fill that dog shaped hole in your heart, I hope that someday, maybe a new dog might make that hole a little bit smaller.

  6. Let me start by saying that I am so sorry for your loss. You seemed to have loved her a lot and I love to see others love their dogs that much. You were her angel, and in return she was yours. Sometimes we need a little push to move on with our lives like in your case when you left that abusive man. I am glad she was there for you. Angels come in all forms and shapes:)

  7. Sorry for your loss, and sending warm thoughts your way… we know all about puppy love here, our two Alfie and Quinn are members of our family, act ally the loudest snorers in our family, and help make the house a home.

    I said goodbye to my previous dog after 16 years and the love is still there. There is no love like puppy love.

    Love your post, thanks for sharing.

  8. Its never easy to lose a family member; especially one who has been in the trenches with you. Its never enough, but to know she had a wonderful life and family that loved her will give her a special place in your family history.

  9. It is heartbreaking to lose a pet which is often like losing a family member it was only earlier this year that we had to put my daughters Kathy’s dog “Dylan” down because she was just so sick

  10. What a lovely tribute to your dear friend. When it was time for my beloved Xerxes to go, I took him through the drivethrough at McDonalds and bought him a double cheeseburger and his own french fries. (But I drank his Coke.)
    One of my favorite books is Watership Down. In the drivethrough book, the rabbits say a little prayer when they lose one of their own. I say it to myself whenever a friend loses a furry companion:

    “My heart has joined The Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.”
    For Daisy.

  11. A day to break the rules……. Sitting in the shade with pancakes dipped in creme decoca. Rest now my friend, one day we will again run together in the field.

  12. I loved that dog. You. Made. Me. Cry. I’m thinking you were weeping (in that heaving-sob-kinda-way) throughevery word as you wrote that. Love you girl. While the dog reminded you of your strength, you left ratbastard because you have ALWAYS been strong. exes and ohs.


  13. I am so sorry for you and your family’s loss. Reading your beautiful post as brought back my own memories. I’m sorry to write what I must now, but if I don’t now, I may not later. Many I have spoken with did not think of this, some vets will come to your house. There is an understandable extra cost, but it was worth every penny. My girl was petrified of the vet, I think it started with expressing the anal gland, but for her to be in her own yard, sitting with family was worth every extra cent. I believe this is a valid option and would like for your readers to consider it and perhaps encourage their vets to offer this service.
    PS: I love your posts, I usually laugh, sometimes get teary eyed and other times I simply don’t understand. As far as not understanding, I have a penis, so please try to understand and forgive me.
    Also, please feel free to edit or delete this post as you see fit, and again, my thoughts are with you and your family.

    • Jim, penis forgiven.
      As far as having it done at home, I actually did ask, but my vet only does home euthanasia in very rare circumstances i.e. if the dog cannot travel or an elderly owner. But I completely and wholeheartedly concur. Had I had a way, I would have done it at home. It would have been so much more peaceful for all of us.
      And I thank you. For reading and commenting. And don’t worry if you don’t understand some of my stuff. To be honest, at times I don’t either. 😉

  14. Well, I’m sitting here crying as I read this. I’ve never been a “dog owner” but my family has always had dogs. I’m staring at my parent’s two and am very thankful we are. I make fun of my family’s oldest current dog (11yrs) since he has to be medicated for dog Alzheimer’s and needs a “hug” vest in storms…but honestly I love him to pieces.

    My parents had a dog (a gordon setter) when they married, before they had me, and he slept under my crib. He’d wake my mom, tugging on her nightgown, when I cried at night. He’d sit by my bassinet on the front porch while I napped and viciously bark if anyone neared me. He allowed me to pull his long hair to aid me in my first steps. At 11 when I went to school I hugged him and kissed his soft neck because I knew I’d return and he’d been gone. I’d been warned. He was old. His hips gone, his bladder control nonexistent. It was the first time I ever saw my father cry.

    No dog since then has ever lived up to what that first dog was for me (though I’ve loved them all), so I get it. What a remarkable dog Daisy was…how blessed she was to have you for an owner. I’m so sorry for your loss, love.

  15. Oh my. Now there is a dog shaped hole in my heart too. I feel such sadness and joy reading this. What a beautiful, special Daisy. I didn’t know you had been through some of that darkness either – so have I. Glad you survived and had your beautiful angel to help you through. Love you lots.

  16. Oh and now I’m crying, Leanne I am so so sorry it was Daisys time. She was with you when you needed her most and she was loved and she had a very happy life. Bless you, hope it feels better soon. The photos were lovely.

  17. i love you. i love you so much. (as much as a perfect stranger internet friend can). this was beautiful and heartbreaking and i love you because i don’t know what else to say.

    and cheers to your dad. damn fine man.

  18. UGHHH DAMNIT LEANNE it’s only noon and you’ve already got me in tears! Bahahaha.
    Daisy sounds like one damn good pup… I know cats aren’t the same but my baby girl could basically be a dog! It’s always interesting when you love an animal so much, even though they can’t reply to you. Everything that has to be said is all in the eyes!

    Take care, cuz!

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