I’m so glad she was born. SO glad.

At first, she looked like this…

I’ve recounted the story of how FTH Oopsie Daisy/Daisy/Daisy Duke/Daisy Mae/Mae/Mei Mei/Princess came into our lives.  You have undoubtedly heard me brag about how she was named by the community of greyhound freaks over at GreyTalk, how she lived on her Mama Caffie’s kitchen floor until she was old enough to go outside in the puppy runs, and how my entire family on my mother’s side once gathered around the computer to watch her come in spectacularly, amazingly, and fabulously dead last in one of her attempts to break maiden at JAX.

(For those not versed in Racing Vocab, that means she has to win a maiden race to get to run with the big dogs.  She didn’t do that at JAX but did at Sanford Orlando, where she got up to Grade A.  I’m sure you’ve heard THAT story before as well, so I’ll move on.)

Then, this happened…

What you haven’t heard from me lately is that Daisy is nine years old this week (there is a running debate about the Leelo Babies Birthdate so I celebrate 12-14 August to cover all my bases…and because I love her too much for only one day).  Nine.Years.Old.  It has been almost a decade since I watched via text on GreyTalk that she had been born, almost a decade of knowing about her and waiting for her and loving her.

I know, everyone moons over their dogs like they are the only ones that have that sort of relationship.  I know that I am not the only one that loves my dog.  But y’all, my Mei Mei is special.

She came home to me and Simon at the tender age of 2.75, in March of 2007.  Me and Simon weren’t even a Me and Simon at that point, not officially, but he was Daisy’s Dah-dee from the start.  She never had trouble understanding him like the other dogs did, and would look up at him with the most adoring expression as he talked to her, as though trying to understand every syllable that came out of his mouth.  She still does that.  With him.  With me if I prattle on too long she licks me to shut me up.

She came into a family of old dogs.  Hunky was 10 when Daisy came home, going on 11, and Jeany would turn 10 the next month.  They were still reeling from the loss of Profile, who was the clear pack leader, and were none too thrilled to have this young and bouncy dog around.  So she adapted to them, not the other way around.  She would defer to them in all things, and became a comfort to both of them as they got older.  She also took their Mommy’s focus for awhile, so that they could sit around and love each other and not be bothered by my constant fussing and attention seeking.

After Jeany fell down the stairs in Keighley, Simon kept finding Daisy curled up next to her.  She could have been out exploring her new home, terrorizing the cat, or doing a host of other doggie things, but instead she decided to make sure Jeany was comforted.  I think Jeany actually liked it.  After we lost Jeany, Daisy was forever snuggling up to Hunky, even when he wet his bed, and I’m not sure if it was to comfort him over the loss of Jeany or herownself.  Daisy falls hard in love, and when she loves you, you know it.  She loved her big brother and sister with a fierceness that I wish more people could possess.

And now, all she has to do is this and I’m a goner. 

Now she’s back in that position again, after two years in the UK of being the only dog, getting all the attention, and generally living like the Princess she is.  With Clowny’s injury and subsequent paralysis, Daisy has to navigate a world where her people are either ignoring her or telling her to be careful, don’t stand on Clowny, let him finish eating before you dive into his bowl, etc.  She could turn into a spoiled brat, acting out because she isn’t getting the attention she’s used to, taking her frustration out on Clowny who is, to be fair, the easiest of targets right now.

But she doesn’t.  My precious baby girl, my Daisy Mei Mei backs up when we ask, she waits to be allowed to clean up the food Clowny leaves behind, she snuggles on the bed with him at night until he grouses at her to move.  She takes her toys elsewhere and plays on her own, tossing George, her stuffed monkey, up in the air over and over until someone notices.  She follows me down the hall when I just need to go cry about Clowny a little without letting him see me do it and licks my tears off my face.

Today (and the two days prior) are more than a celebration of her birthday.  Today is a reminder that through some twist of fate, I was given the gift of Daisy.  Love you to absolute bits, my babygirl, to the moon and back.   I don’t know what your Daddy and I would have done this summer without you.  Thanks is not enough, not by a longshot.

“You’re my back bone.
You’re my cornerstone.
You’re my crutch when my legs stop moving.
You’re my head start.
You’re my rugged heart.
You’re the pulse that I’ve always needed.
Like a drum, baby, don’t stop beating.
Like a drum, baby, don’t stop beating.
Like a drum, baby, don’t stop beating.
Like a drum my heart never stops beating…
For you, for you.”

(from Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips)

Thank goodness it’s almost May

April has been The Month of the Bean for the past nine years. Her birthday was 5 April and her Gotcha Day would have been today. Every time I think that I’m okay with this, that it’s a part of life, that I was so lucky to have her at all and blessed to have so long with her…it just slaps me in the face that she’s not here anymore.

Anyone who is reading this and just thought to yourself, “but it’s just a dog,” can sod off and stop reading right now. If you thought that, you don’t know me, and you most definitely don’t understand, and I’m choosing now not to have that kind of thinking in my life anymore.

Those of you still here…thank you. I miss her. I loved her so much, and in the end, it doesn’t help and it didn’t make any difference how much I loved her. I still lost her, and I guess that I need to just be okay with how much that hurts and not try to pretend it never happened.

It did happen. I did watch them take her out of the room, just like Profile, and never saw her again. She wasn’t just another dog, she was my Jeany Bean, my beautiful beautiful girl, and I just couldn’t do enough to keep her with me.

“I thought I would be ready for this, but how could anyone be ready for something like this?” -Brothers&Sisters

Tax Day and other things

It’s tax day in the US today. Mom, Dad, did you get my taxes to Mr. Taylor? Hope so…and I hope I don’t owe anything…maybe I’ll actually get a refund this time!

Today’s plan is to clean house. I know I said that on Monday, but I haven’t really done much since then. I did clean the den yesterday, sort of…it’s weird because I feel like I’m cleaning someone else’s house and I don’t know where things should be put away. It’s also weird how I felt totally at home here when I used to just be visiting, but I don’t feel that way now. Keighley used to hold a certain charm in my eyes before…and now that I’m here without a regularly scheduled departure that charm has faded a bit. I used to think it cool how Simon could go out in his back garden and see his neighbors in the row of houses across the alley/street/whatever it is…now I feel like I’m being watched when I’m in the kitchen. That sort of thing. I’m sure it will get better.

I’m working through a lot of guilt over Jeany’s death. The first and most obvious point is that I am still wondering if I’d never moved here would she still be alive? If Simon had moved to the US, would we still have three greyhounds?

The second point is that she could stand up before we took that taxi ride to the vet…so I’m pretty sure that the way that idiot zoomed around corners, throwing my baby girl around in the back like a sack of potatoes, is how her back leg got dislocated. I’m not sure if that’s guilt or anger; probably both, to be honest. If we had known about the animal ambulance or if we’d waited until someone with a car could have taken us, she would most likely still be alive, albeit with only three legs. I’m not sure I will EVER get over that one.

First and second run together for me…I knew that Simon didn’t have a car and doesn’t drive. I knew that there wasn’t a vet anywhere near where we would be living. I probably could have surmised that most of the taxi drivers here are of a certain religious group that doesn’t permit contact with dogs, therefore they wouldn’t be as careful with a dog if they would even pick one up at all. (The ambulance driver told me he’d seen a taxi driver pick up someone with a hurt dog and put the dog in the TRUNK.) I knew that Simon’s stairs were steep. I knew all these things, and yet in my typical selfish way I went ahead with moving over here because I needed to be with my husband. I’m just not sure I can forgive myself that Jeany had to pay for my selfishness the way she did.

Some things have gone right, though…we are getting great deals on the dogs’ food at Leeds Market. Mills is the happiest I’ve seen him in ages. I have a roof over my head, heat, clean water, working plumbing…I should be thankful for those things and stop being such a snob about the state of Simon’s house (no dishwasher, no dryer, etc). Maybe that’s what I’ll work on today…if I can ever get off the sofa.

Playing Catch Up, but not on Channel Four

Well, I’m here now, in the UK. It’s really amazing to me to think that I’ve only been here 5 days. In a lot of ways it feels like I’ve been here for ages. I got here on 8 April after a lovely flight over the Atlantic. Thanks much to Dave and Susan for the upgrade to World Traveller Plus on BA! I had a bigger seat which was also a bulkhead seat, and because there weren’t many people in that class I didn’t have anyone next to me. I think I slept the best I have on a trans-atlantic flight in a long time (without medication).

London Heathrow’s new Terminal 5 is amazing…if you like posh shopping malls. I never found the Krispy Kreme, sadly, because I was spending all my time looking for my gate to pop up on the monitor and reading…and sitting. My laptop weighs a ton, and I was honestly tired of having it in the backpack on my back.

The flight to Manchester was loud but mercifully short. The only challenge left at that point was to collect all my luggage. When I left Atlanta I had four other adults to help bring my four checked bags and two carry-ons to the desk to check. In Manchester I was on my own until I got outside of the security area where I was to meet Simon and Louise.

Thank heavens for those carts that you can stack a million bags on top of and they still will not tip over.

Honestly everything from Wednesday afternoon until Friday was a bit of a blur. We got back to Simon’s house and I checked on Jeany to see if she needed to see a vet. It turned out that she did, so we made an appointment and took her in to Aireworth Vets. The short story is that she’d suffered some pretty serious damage when she fell down the stairs, but in typical greyhound fashion had remained stoic throughout. We lost her Friday afternoon when it was found that her injuries couldn’t be repaired and it was more kind to let her go.

Saturday and Sunday were supposed to be Settle In and Unpack days, but in truth I think that the jet lag and the grief over losing Jeany finally hit me and I did more sleeping than anything. I took a harried trip to the emergency vet with Hunky Saturday night because he had a little blood in his urine. Turned out that he has a UTI, very treatable. Last night we went out to Haworth with some friends of Simon’s, which was a nice distraction from all that’s been going on since I got here.

So, it’s Monday, and the objective is to get the bedroom tidied and my things put in some sort of order…or maybe I’ll just go back to bed.

Beachbound Hounds

Well, we made it.

We set out yesterday at 11:30ish with the intention of picking up my friend Janet at the Myrtle Beach Airport at about 4pm. Along the way we slept, fussed, slept and slept…well, H and J did, Mommy was driving.

Somewhere past Florence I found a gas station that was selling unleaded for under $4 per gallon…and it had a sign on each of of the pumps stating that customers needed to limit their transactions to 10 gallons per fill-up because of the severe gas shortage affecting the Southeastern US.

Huh?

After putting 10.01 gallons in my car, we headed on toward Myrtle Beach. Jimmy Buffett on the MP3, dogs blissfully sleeping in the back…and the traffic screeched to a halt. Dead halt. Stopped. Car in PARK.

Turns out there was an accident up ahead…so I rang up Leah and she headed over to get Janet at the airport. Finally, after a 20 minute wait, we headed on down to the beach.

So far I haven’t even made it to check in with BBH staff, only into the hotel. Jeany isn’t happy about the non carpeted floors in the room, but she’s managing.

Best part so far? I have my Daisy Mae Mae Psycho Puppy Girl back with me.

Hello from Falls Park!


Hello from Falls Park!
Originally uploaded by Nancy Allen

Just today I remembered why I love Greenville, and why when I was in Alabama last year I longed to get back to the Upstate. Before my friend Leah went back home, we took all of our dogs out to the Reedy River Falls Park for a walk and it was just so gorgeous and tranquil…in the heart of downtown with its bustle is this oasis, and I love it. Late New Year’s Res…go to Falls Park with the kids at least once a week!!

I must away…anon, anon…eeek!

Tomorrow is the opening day of the 2007 season of the Carolina Renaissance Festival. HOW did that get here so soon?? I had plans for a new gown and a new leine, I had visions of collars that I would make for the dogs myself, and all I’ve managed to do is remember to ask Amy for my old green gown so that I will have something cooler to wear that ISN’T my old blue McDonald plaid garb.

I haven’t even sewn the drawstring into Leah’s pouch yet, but don’t tell her. What shoes am I going to wear? What on EARTH will I do with my hair now that it isn’t all one length? Thank goodness for green snoods I suppose.

This past week has been a blur. Simon left a week ago Sunday. Every time one of us leaves the other at an airport it gets harder I think. I maintain that it is harder on the one being left, because instead of being distracted by bad airline food and tinny sounding movies for 8+ hours, you have to return to your house where the other one now isn’t. Even the animals have been depressed, MAINLY because Simon spoils them but also because they love him.

Several blog posts have come to mind this week…and have gone right out the proverbial other ear. My house again looks like a tornado has taken up residence. The car has become a dog bed with wheels, and will remain so until festival is over.

H and J had dentals this week. For the first time since I adopted J seven years ago, her breath doesn’t make me ill. She’s a bit upset with me over the whole thing and stares at me with what greyhound people call the “Stink Eye.” H had a growth removed from his mouth that IS NOT CANCEROUS! Can I just shout that from my rooftop? After losing P last January if that had been cancer in H’s mouth I think I would have lost it completely.

And sadly, this week the greyhound world got a bit dimmer but the night sky more brilliant as a new star entered the heavens…H’s littermate Marky. Bless. Marky was a sweet and unassuming soul, often shy and always hilarious. I feel like I lost one of my own, but when it’s H’s time to go I know his brother will be there waiting on him.

The bright spot of the week? Definitely the H=Cancer Free moment. And now I’m off, I must away, anon, anon! Well, okay anon=after I get everything packed for this weekend…