DaisyDuke by Christine Rucker

For the original story and more photos, visit Christine Rucker.

This was Daisy. Calm in the presence of chaos. Always a perfect combination of grace and goof. Of curiosity and fear. We were lucky to have shared 14 years of adventures and mis-adventures. 

Yes, she was 14.

I do it myself, when someone tells me they lost a pet, first I offer my condolences, then I ask..so how old was he/she? somehow the longer the life of the animal.. the easier it should be to let go, right?

They’ve had a full life, and probably enough love for five lifetimes. They have also been entwined longer in your life and they become the glue that keeps the rest of your family together.

Yes, fourteen IS a ripe old age for a dog, and especially her breed of German Shorthair Pointer.

 But 14 years is not long enough when they have planted roots into your life.

She grew up in the shadow of a great dog name “Duke’, who stayed with us until he was 19. She was named DaisyDuke in honor of him. We shared her lineage with one of my best friends who adopted her brother “Luke”. They made up the Dukes of Hazard dog dynasty.

There are a million “little” things that made Daisy “Daisy”.

The way she would bark when the tires hit our gravel drive and she would stick her head out the window inhaling the air, biting at the trees we passed by. Like she was trying to ingest all that was home to her.

The way she would know the second I got out of the shower, no matter how hard it was for her to climb the stairs as she got older, she would be waiting to lick the water off my legs and if there was lotion involved. it was like icing.

The way she would press her body against mine at night.. not just sleeping “next” to me.. but sleeping with me. How you could easily get her to break into a song by one howl in the morning and the way her ears would perk and her head would cock when you told her there were rabbits waiting for her outside.

The way she barked at you if you were a little late in feeding her, just in case you might have forgotten.

These are just the physical things she would do. She could easily read my emotions and at times knew me better than I knew myself, and while she couldn’t talk, she had developed a different kind of language. One that spoke directly to my emotions.

She’s been my confidant, my therapist, and my marriage counselor when needed. She came into my life when I wanted kids but could not have them... and she became my surrogate child.

It might sound cliche to say she was the sweetest dog I’ve ever known. I’ve known a lot of dogs and been privileged to spend my time on this planet surrounded by dogs. But, Daisy truly was the sweetest I’ve ever met.
She had a combination of gentleness and kindness that really is rare in an animal. She never killed anything. She was kind of a Buddah dog that way..

There was the time she found baby bunnies in the back yard and brought them in one by one to her dog bed,then took a nap on top of them. If anything has ever died from too much love, it was those bunnies.

Being a bird dog, she would find birds and bring them to me inside. As soon as they dried off from her slobber , they would take flight and we would chase them through the house and release them back outside.

She once met her match when she cornered a chip monk who took offense and hissed at her, then took pleasure in chasing Daisy back to the house.

And she was the only dog in our pack that I would allow off leash when a baby fawn showed up at our house needing some care. It immediately imprinted on Daisy and Daisy reluctantly became a surrogate animal mom for the fawn.

Daisy was not the independent type unless we were on a trail, then she would satellite me or just plain wander off.

I tried the E-Collar a few times, but she figured out how far she needed to be away from me for it not to work. This only enabled the satellite effect.

I had a signature “Whoop Whoop” when I wanted to find her, and so many times that would be answered by a “Bark Bark” coming from the parking area of the trail. She would be waiting by the car for me, ready to go home and my bike ride was usually cut short when it was hot.

But other than that, she didn’t mind asking for help.. she would bark at doorsteps the couple times she got lost until someone came to the door. Once she wandered off on a hike along the Blue Ridge parkway, she went to the road and barked at passing cars until someone stopped.

Even though most pointers are good swimmers, she preferred if you’d find her a big raft or boat to float on. The few times she was inured, she was the best dog patient ever, because she didn’t fight your help, she loved it.

She eventually became a better trail dog and would come when called quickly. So when I blindly got another pointer. This one rescued and wired with an anxiety I couldn’t put my finger on, I recruited Daisy to help with the training.

Since Daisy came back to me when I called her and she was 20 lbs. bigger than our new dog Bailey.. I figured I could leash them together and Daisy could bring her back by overpowering Bailey.
I momentarily forgot how easy going Daisy was. Bailey took off, dragging Daisy along for the ride. They ended up 4 miles down the road at a dairy farm, probably with Daisy barking at the farmhouse until someone came out.
The call I got from the farmer was hilarious: “So, I know pointers are prone to run off and all.. but I never seen two of ‘em tied together before”

And that was Daisy. Ready to go along for the ride without a worry. She traveled across country with us when she was recovering from a knee surgery. She stayed in weird places and strange motels without a single bark of opposition. She traveled more miles with me than most people have. She adventured hard and made me laugh often.

And she was always there waiting for me when I returned from adventures of my own. She taught me to be kinder, and made me a more patient person.

We always think in terms of how to train our dogs, but don’t realize the way they train us. She taught me how to relax more and appreciate a 2 mile walk in the woods instead of a 20 mile ride in the woods.

14 years of adventures are suddenly ending in a sterile emergency vet office at 11:00 at night on the 4th of July.

Leaving us wondering what happened and how we are going to walk out of here without you.

Daisy was too sweet of a dog to linger with an illness and too sweet of a dog to make us wonder when the time was “right” to let her go. She got sick suddenly and the decision was made for us. Everything happened so quickly.

All we could do was send you out of this world with our love and our tears.

Your last day was spent in the woods and by the river, with a pack that loved you. And that’s how it should have been for a dog as sweet as you.

 I’m sure you’ve carved out a little piece of dog heaven and named it Hazard County.

There are thousands of pictures I could share of Daisy's life. But these embody her like no others I have taken of her. We loaded her up in an overpacked element and drove west. She was the peacekeeper, the comedian, and the best therapist a married couple could have on a 4,000 mile journey. This is the spirit of Daisy:

For the original story published July 12, 2017 and more photos, visit Christine Rucker.