In the summer of 2007, I got a wild idea. I wanted a dog. We’d been living in our house just a little more than a year. We had a big fenced back yard. The kids were still little and rambunctious and full of energy and wildness and they dropped food all over the floor when they ate anything. It was time for a dog.
Thinking back to my own childhood and the dogs we’d always had on the farm, I decided that I would look for a shepherd or collie because they’re so smart and, possibly very helpfully, natural herders. After visiting the local shelter a couple of times and looking through pet adoption listings online for a while, one weekend morning eight-year-old Zac and I hopped in my car and we headed over to a nearby pet store that was having an adoption event where there would be a beautiful young rescued Australian shepherd up for adoption.
We didn’t even make it inside the store.
Outside the store were a dozen or more portable kennels, and as we walked by, this one skinny little tiger striped puppy made of nothing but gangly legs and a really long mouth locked eyes with Zac. She saw him walking toward her and came alive, just a bundle of pure energy with the biggest dog smile. He looked at her. He looked at me. I filled out the application.
The lady who had been fostering her told me her history. This little tiger dog was a Plott Hound. At just a few weeks old, she and a littermate had been found by the roadside nearly starved to death. They were taken to animal control. The littermate didn’t survive. On what would have been her kill date, the Plott rescue group took her to be fostered. That had been six months ago. She had already been placed in two other homes and returned to foster care within days each time because she was such a handful. This poor puppy had spent her life so far living in a crate in a basement beside a half-dozen other dogs in crates. The foster mom told me that she was going to be very cautious about placing her again, and would require a home visit and a follow up.
On June 8, 2007, a car pulled up in our driveway. The foster lady was dragged up the front steps by the wild eyed tiger dog. We welcomed them inside. Led by her nose, the tiger dog tore through the house at top speed, sniffing everything, followed loudly by three laughing children. She ran upstairs. There was yelling. She ran back downstairs. The children reported that she had pooped in the hall upstairs. I looked at Jessie and saw a hint of panic in her eyes. Not at all worried, I assured Jessie, ‘She’s just a puppy now. She’ll calm down.’
We named the wild tiger dog Daisy. Her full name was Daisy Dog Spencer-Summerlin. She would also answer to ‘asshole’, ‘butt-head’, and ‘wanna go for a ride?’. ‘Would you like’ was her favorite phrase. It didn’t matter what we were offering, it was always going to be good.
She loved hiking and camping and sleeping in the tent. She always knew when bad weather was coming and would take shelter in the tent minutes before a storm would roar up. Her favorite food was whatever was on our plates. She also loved beer and peanut butter. She would rather sniff scents than anything in the world. She never learned to properly walk on a leash, no matter what I tried. The smells were always too good. She loved staring at squirrels and barking. She really really loved barking. Frogs were scary. Smoke was terrifying, but campfires were ok.
She loved to sit on your foot while you scratched her head. If you stopped scratching her head, she would look back at you with her head upside down and ask with her big brown eyes, ‘why you stop?’. I would always stop just to make her look.
She never calmed down. Not until that last day. That’s how we knew it was time.
I spent yesterday looking through the roughly 40,000 family photos I’ve made since I got my first digital camera in 2002, reliving our adventures with Daisy. We were beyond lucky to have 15 years of adventures and cuddles with her. She was the very best dog and we’re going to miss her forever. I’ll leave you with a slide show of some of the highlights.
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