A Dog Named Daisy Bottom

By Christopher Priest, May 2018

An elegy for a dog named Daisy Bottom

You would have said, it was nothing. You would have said, we were best friends – we were a family. You would have said you tolerated Linus. You would have said you never bit any other dog’s ear. You would have said, you were captured and imprisoned until we sprang you from the shelter. You would have said you lived in captivity.

You were wild, and then you were not. You were a feral mutt found roaming the streets of Seattle. No one knows where you came from. You were never lost – when you got out, you came home when you wanted to. You hunted squirrels and garbage cans. And you once almost caught a rabbit. You sang. You howled. You groaned. You sighed. You barked.

This is an elegy for a dog named Daisy Pants.

You could close doors behind you. You said your prayers – reluctantly, being an atheist. You could get a tissue when someone sneezed. You could jump through someone’s arms. You knew your right from your left. You could spin both ways. You could sit up and lie down. You could walk backwards and jump in place. You could find food anywhere. You once carried a soggy baguette larger than you five blocks, refusing to let it go.

You had more names than anyone I know. You were called Daisy Mae, Miss Pants, Miss Bottom, the Dragon, Brown Dog, Gray Dog, Crazy Daisy, Mean Dog, and more over the years.

No one knew what color you were – you were at once black and then gray and maybe brown. You were as scruffy as wolf or people thought you were a Schnauzer. You looked like Tramp from Lady & the Tramp – sometimes. You looked like a baby bear. You looked like a wet Nutria. You looked like wisdom as you got older. You had sad, human eyes. You were proud and defiant and refused to listen. You had a mind of your own and the heart of wildness.

I have a dream of depositing some of your ashes in the Tuileries because we all agreed you would have loved Paris. You would have loved New York. You loved strolling. You loved smelling street trees and meeting other dogs.

You loved running trails, jumping through the snow, exploring foothills, climbing mountains, smelling desert flowers, and stalking critters. You loved long walks and jumping in lakes, standing knee-deep in fountains and swimming in rivers. You would get down as low as you could and then your haunches would start shifting and you’d spring. You loved surprises. You were a surprise.

This is a dirge for a dog named Daisy Mae.

She lived 18 years (or 19 – no one knows). She died on a bright, warm Monday afternoon in April. One shot and your heart stopped. You spent your last day riding in cart behind my bike, sleeping at a brewery, meeting random people who fell in love with you instantly, lying close to your fellow traveler, Linus, and waiting for the end in our front yard, close to your favorite person. You seemed strangely active after months of tired falls and slipping stumbles and dangerous stair drops. You had cancer. It was killing you. You had arthritis. Your brain was no longer communicating with your back legs. You could no longer control yourself. You were a different dog.

We lost you finally. You slipped away as we touched your fur and whispered how much we would miss you. You were there and then you were not. I carried you to a random car wrapped in a blanket. You still smelled like Daisy Pants. You were gone, and we will miss you for the rest of our lives.

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