Back Yard feeder visitor

Driving Miss Daisy

Driving Miss Daisy

Nancy Petersen
Madras Oregon
Feb 29, 2008

I first met Miss Daisy on my return from a prolonged business trip. She met me at the front door, barking furiously as only a terrier can. My roommate recently retired had found she wanted some company on her walks. A visit to the local Humane Society introduced her to this terrier cross, white and tan with small spots of grey, and 8 weeks old.

However since I was not home when Daisy was introduced to her new home, I was the alien to the environment. It took her weeks to warm up to me, but once she did she was a lap full constantly, and quite playful. I would tell her I liked it better when she did not like me, and she would sing at me and lick my chin.

She was quick to learn the basics of potty training and playing but we felt she needed more general skills like sit, stay and other commands for her safety as well as good manners. So my roommate enrolled her in a puppy class. She was having no part of it, and for the first 3 weeks sat under a chair as every other dog in the place began to socialize and follow commands, She would follow commands at home, but she was not going to socialize. Eventually she did come out from under the chair but growled at every dog that approached her. So much for socializing.

She found a favorite spot in the house quickly, the end of the hallway at my roommates bedroom door where there were a grouping of teddy bears. She not only enjoyed their company, she blended right in, snuggling down in their soft comfort.

When we moved to a primarily senior community, she would accompany us on walks, and often when I was using my battery operated cart to get around she would sit in the basket or on the floor of the cart and enjoy the trip, which naturally gave rise to the Driving Miss Daisy title.

As time went on, I was able to ride a bike a bit and to continue driving Miss Daisy I had to add a basket to the back of the bike. However, if another dog approached she was out of the basket and on the attack. So a safety device of a chest buckle had to be added to keep her from leaping out as we were pedaling along. On one occasion when I was actually attacked by another dog, Miss Daisy and Ginger a boxer we had found at the pound when Daisy was about 11, interceded and soundly defeated the attacker. Daisy was fearless, having no concept of size. She weighed about 23 pounds but to her taking on a 60 pound dog was a matter of technique and she never backed down.

As we would ride around our neighborhood and or our adopted winter home in the south, folks would call out to her, and or stop us to get her picture. She was aloof and to my knowledge never signed an autograph.

She became very ill when drinking spic and span solution behind my back while I was cleaning tires. When taken to her vet, she would tremble uncontrollably. On this occasion the vet put her on pepto bismal and scrambled egg, rice and hamburger diet in small amounts until she recovered. During later visit’s our vet treated her at the end of the visit with a dog treat and cheese whiz spread. It certainly helped make the visit more tolerable but she still trembled until the treat with cheese whiz arrived. I suspected she did it on purpose knowing the outcome and the soft heart of her vet.

She certainly learned drive up windows quickly, as many of the banks and gas stations in the area have a stash of dog treats to dole out while you are doing your business there. It was so common, that she became quite insulted if it did not happen at a drive up window like the Dairy Queen or some not so dog friendly gas stations.

She had many favorite friends, friends of ours who would come to visit and either had treats in their pocket or shared their lunch with her. The minute they arrived she would howl a welcome. While she never begged, she would sit right down in front of them knowing something better was to come. And heaven help you if you had a dish of ice cream, you were going nowhere until the dregs in the dish were shared. (Its ok, we sterilize the dishes in the dish washer!)

She accompanied my roommate who served as a forest service volunteer camp host for a number of years, but still remained aloof to strangers, barking warnings to all who neared that she did not know. Chipmonks became an unending source of fascination even though she was secured with a lead to a tree or stump. The chipmonks seem to understand she was not able to reach them and chattered away just out of tethers length.

Later when we moved to the country, she found unending interest in odd smells on the lawn and little round pellets. While she never saw a rabbit to our knowledge, she knew something that smelled like that lived under the deck. Every night she would go rabbit hunting, following the smells through the grass and flower beds to the corner of the front deck. And anytime she was released from the car after returning home from a trip she headed to the trail of the rabbits. As she got older she would follow the trail around the end of the house and get lost in the dark. So I would have to get my shoes out and go after her to show her where her ramp was back to the deck.

As she reached 16 years of age her failures became obvious, memory deficits, hearing and vision loss, disorientation, poor appetite but she never lost her spunk. She always acted like she was a puppy even though she gimped around like the rest of the household. She would respond to the clap of hands as she seemed to be able to hear that unless she was hot on the trail of a rabbit scent. Then she was perfectly capable of ignoring me, knowing even I am sure that I was saying “don’t ignore me, get in here“!!

She suddenly stopped eating, and drinking around the time of her 16th birthday, taking only sips of water from an eye dropper. She progressed to a semi alert condition whining only when she wanted to go out. She slept in my roommates lap and later on my chest waking infrequently to lick my chin, in her final hours before the visit to the vet. Our own vet was by now on a personal leave, so we sought the help of a local vet to put her down. We brought her back to the place in the country to bury, along with her ball, and favorite blanket as well as a few plants including Daisies atop the grave. Oh yes, and a ceramic rabbit.

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