Show and Tale Story written by: Nicola Wise-Sturt
Image credits: Chris Sturt
DOG'S NAME: Daisy Boo
DOG'S BREED: German Wirehaired Pointer
DOG'S AGE: 11.5
It’s 9 months now since we lost Daisy to lymphoma at the age of 11.5 years and I still can’t believe she is no longer with us. She was in our family for 10 years and such a force of nature – I literally spent those 10 years constantly trying to stay one step ahead of her!
She came to live with us with her ‘husband’ Sonny (another GWP) when I had just moved to the country from London. From the minute she arrived at her new home I had a glimpse into our future. I opened the boot of the car at our house and she shot off and ran for her life. Luckily we lived in a small village with very few cars and the neighbours helped me round her up.
She loved to explore and was always more interested in sniffing, digging and stalking pigeons than listening to us. But we kept working with her and she eventually became the most loyal dog. She originally came from a puppy farm in Wales and had a lot of genetic issues – some of which were behavioural. She was very vocal about who she did and didn’t like and we always listened to her when she expressed an ‘opinion’ about a person or a dog – because she was always right!
We discovered when she was 2 years old that she had chronic hip dysplasia and arthritis (and our vet has since told me she didn’t expect her to live past the age of 3). But we were determined to do everything we could so we embarked on what would become a regime of twice weekly hydrotherapy for the next 9 years.
Along the way she had a number of other illnesses (broken bones, lumps removed etc) including a grass seed in her lungs that had to be removed and her lungs drained. She had a blown disc in her spine which required surgery and 6 weeks crate rest (I spent the 6 weeks in the crate with her!) She also had a mysterious reaction to a new painkiller that saw her entire body swell with lumps. She had more dodgy ‘vet’ haircuts than we can count!
But she took everything in her stride and was constantly described by vets and surgeons as a miracle dog when it came to recovery. We lost count of the number of times we were told ‘If it was any other dog… but because it’s Daisy’ when it come to recovering from a health issue.
We definitely had some adventures with her but probably her most infamous one was when she stayed overnight at a strange vet clinic to have an MRI on her spine. She didn’t cope very well away from her boys (Sonny and our third GWP Thorn) and clearly decided she wanted to be home with them. At 6am I got a phone call from a stranger saying she had just managed to catch Daisy who she found running down the middle of a busy motorway trying to make her way home! She had escaped from the vet clinic (how she did it remains a mystery as she was supposedly in a locked kennel behind 2 fire doors and a locked clinic door) and had run about 7 miles in the direction of home. We were just so grateful she was found before she was injured and before we even knew she was missing!
By the time she was 9 she was fighting chronic kidney disease which we managed through nutrition – slowing the progression of the disease right down. She had overcome so much in her life that we truly thought she was going to live forever.
Then we got the call everyone dreads ‘She has cancer and only 4-6 weeks to live’. We knew chemotherapy wasn’t an option because of her kidney disease and hip dysplasia treatment program. So we made the decision to make the most of every minute we had with her and take her to the beach on holiday – her favourite place. We lived in a bubble the entire week and it was almost possible to forget what was to come.
We discovered a walk through some sand dunes that we did everyday. They were so beautiful we decided it was actually what the entrance to the Rainbow Bridge must look like. My husband filmed some video footage of Daisy walking through the dunes and added a song called ‘No Place I’d Rather Be’. It was beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time and I have watched it countless time since – always through a flood of tears.
But because we have so many special memories and photos from that week it also inspired a dream to one day open a retreat for owners with ill or senior dogs to come and spend time making special memories with their pets.
Even though she is no longer with us physically she hasn’t really left us. When the time came to say goodbye our vet came to the house and she was comfortable on the bed with us and Sonny beside her, gentle music playing and lavender essential oil diffusing. It was as beautiful as something so sad can be. And just as she took her last breath the song ‘No Place I’d Rather Be’ started playing! We truly believe it was a sign that she had arrived at Rainbow Bridge.
I have dreamed about her so often and the last time was so realistic that I am convinced it was real. She came running up to me for a cuddle and I could feel her breath on my neck and smell her fur. Our dogs become part of our heart and they never really leave it. I truly believe that if you stay open to seeing them again you will.
She taught us so much – patience, perseverance, be quick to respond to something but also be quick to move on. Take pleasure in every minute of every day and never, ever give up. Fight as hard as you can to be with loved ones. And bark at anyone you don’t like!
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