Culture War Dispatches

from a Progressive People's Republic

Monday, February 04, 2008

World's Best Dog Walks No More

Daisy Lapides-Wilson
Sept 29, 1994—February 1, 2008

We are sorry to have to report the death last Friday of our beloved dog Daisy (a.k.a., the Animule, the Mule, Thumper, Sweetie, Daze). As any of you who met her will testify, she was the world’s best dog. This is not her owners’ subjective bias but simply a fact.

Daisy’s mother was an English setter, her father unknown. We suspect that the rogue was part Great Dane and part Holstein. She had pointing instincts from her mother, and could stalk a squirrel as long as her owner was patient enough to watch.

Even the world’s best dog was not without her faults. The rumble of distant thunder would reduce her to a mass of jelly quivering in the nearest enclosed space. She was too big to fit under our bed, so she usually made do with the shower. It was quite a surprise to find her in the bathtub one dark and stormy night when I turned on the light at 2 AM.

This understandable fear of thunder progressed with age to a somewhat less rational fear of rain. After all, when it rained it might thunder. It finally moved into full blown paranoia, where a cloudy day might be suspected of bringing rain and then thunder. In her final weeks I had just crossed the highway near our house when a lightening struck close to us with a particularly loud crack of thunder. Although Daisy has walked off leash around the busiest streets, she decided at that point that she was going home and she headed off with the intention of crossing Fresh Pond Parkway without me. Death by traffic was insignificant next to terror from the skies.

Daisy had little use for most other dogs, and could nip puppies who didn’t listen to her warnings. Her entire focus was on humans. She made an exception for large handsome male dogs—mainly Dobermans and large German shepherds. Even at age 13 with a large tumor weighing her down, she would frolic unabashedly in the presence of dogs who turned her on—and the expression is an accurate description of the way her entire demeanor switched. When she was younger she would run in giddy circles, legs akimbo, squeaking, ramming her chest against the object of her infatuation, while her paramour looked patiently at this silly dame making a fool of herself.

Daisy was abused as a young dog and she had self-esteem issues, which left her psychologically needy. We hated to leave her alone for even an evening, and we no doubt surprised many people by asking if it was all right to bring our dog along to dinner. It’s not that she was a well-behaved dog; it’s that she was more like another human guest, better behaved than many people’s children. She enjoyed large crowds—especially elegant parties where a piece or two of brisket might be directed her way. She would always work the room like a politician, introducing herself politely with a wagging tail, her head bowed in submission.

Daisy could walk through an elaborate set-up of 300 Playmobil pieces, seemingly oblivious of the obstacles, not looking at her feet, without knocking over a single piece. It was always a feat of incredible dexterity, motivated by utmost considerate of others’ feelings.

Someone said that she has an old soul, and although I don’t believe in reincarnation, it seemed apt. A second person made the similar comment—suspecting that she had been a queen in a former life. I was thinking more along the lines of my grandmother Mabel Wilson. They shared a similar compassion, wisdom (in Daisy’s case, assuming the absence of male Dobermans) and a rebellious streak that appeared not in youth but at the end of a life threatened by cancer.

Daisy’s nickname Thumper came from the enthusiastic tail thumping that greeted us after any absence longer than 45 seconds. She was a born percussionist and often at dinner would thump her tail back and forth between two chairs. She enjoyed the fire extinguisher by the back door for its higher bell tones.

An elderly British woman once pronounced of Daisy, “She ought to be a breed.” Alas yes, she ought to have been. The science of cloning is still too new to have given us another Daisy. We mourn her loss like the third daughter that she was.

Happy squirrel hunting, you old mule.