Daisy’s Heart

Exercising a neglected muscle
By Linda Chase, April 2011

Yin and yang: Daisy (right) and Algren.

“One, two, three—go!” We often yelled this battle cry to our dogs as we played with them. The response was the same—Daisy charged and Algren sidestepped. Always. Equal parts Boxer and English Bulldog (we think), Algren’s move could be viewed either as the energetic Boxer encouraging an attack or his Bulldog side looking to evade the action. Either way, his lively moments were fleeting. Mostly, he was a couch potato.

Daisy, on the other hand, was full Boxer. Wiggling, barking, leaping, running full-throttle through the field. Always. So, at the word “Go” she took off toward Algren to bulldoze him and he took his characteristic sidestep to avoid it. This was life and play between Daisy and Algren. She was in your face, giving love and wanting attention. Algren usually sat back hoping to avoid notice. She was the yin to his yang; the crazy to his lazy.
Being of mixed breeds is serving Algren well health-wise. He has an iron stomach and is in good health. Poor Daisy had most of the ailments typical to Boxers. The diseases that afflict Boxers seem particularly unfair. Each one, from hip problems and arthritis to heart problems and cancer, completely devastate the body. Really, I would wish no dogs be afflicted with diseases they can’t name or understand, but Boxers particularly are free spirits. They are runners. They are silly. They should not be taken down in such ways.
I say this but then I am reminded it took three major diseases to get to Daisy. She had mast cell tumors, which she survived; cardiomyopathy, which was controlled by medication; and hemangiosarcoma, which was unfortunately deadly. She beat the odds for a while, though, and I realize fully what I’ve always known, she was an amazing dog. She was a force—demanding of attention, jealous if she wasn’t getting it, but always ready to love and be loved.
The strongest muscle we have is our heart. Yet, if something is wrong with it, there is almost a frailty to it. Daisy never was frail though. Nothing stopped her from living. She lived with her heart. For most of us, the heart is our most neglected muscle. We fail to exercise our hearts. But Daisy didn’t. The simplest truth I ever will learn I learned from her: The best thing we can do for ourselves in this life, and the most important thing we need to do in this world, is love. Daisy took that risk and loved. And her risk paid off.
Oftentimes, it is said that someone has lost her battle with cancer—that there can be no victory if death is the result. That, however, is not the case with Daisy. We most certainly lost her. But she won. One of the last things I said to her, besides that I loved her, was “Get ready to run Daisy.” And I know she took off, full-throttle.


Linda Chase is a special education teacher in Chicago, Illinois. She lives with two cats and two dogs once again—Algren has a new sister, a Boxer-American Bulldog mix named Scully.

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