Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Every Day Is a Gift

Thanks for reminding me of that, Fred.

The day we met Daphne her name was Fancy. She was huddled in a ball at a greyhound meet-n-greet. She was the smallest grey I’ve ever seen and with very little fur, she didn’t look particularly healthy. But the little neckerchief she wore said she needed a home. That was all it took.

Two weeks later we had a new dog. She was scared of everything, and she spent most of that summer hiding under an end table and sneaking to the bedroom at night. The first day, I had to pick her up and carry her outside when she needed to go out. I did that for a few days, but one night at about three in the morning, I heard her bouncing by my side of the bed, eyes shining and ears as up as they could go.

I took her outside, and she wanted to play. We ran around the yard under the stars and chased each other. Then she did her business and went in. After that she always told me when she needed to go out. And, for the past six years, I have gotten up at least once, sometimes twice, in the middle of the night to let her out. Every night.

One of my favorite things about leaving town is knowing that I will get to sleep through the night. But now… now, I know I will miss getting up.

I will miss watching Daphne tree the midnight possums and snap June bugs from the air as they swarm around the porch lights. I will miss hearing the midnight songs of unmated mockingbirds as they trill through the spring nights. I will miss the distant sound of trains that carries across the cool autumn air. I will miss the coyotes I sometimes hear howling in the distance.

If not for her, I’d have missed these things. That’s one things animals do for us: they fill our lives with the unexpected.

Over the years, Daphne grew a beautiful blue fawn brindle coat, thus saving us from having to have a mostly hairless dog. She grew to be playful, quirky, and the laziest animal I’ve ever known, but when she wanted attention or wanted to play, she would wrestle with me like no other dog I’ve had.

I don’t think I ever saw her walk. She preferred to run everywhere she went, glomping along with a footfall surprisingly loud for such a small greyhound. She made weird noises, and only barked at night when there was wildlife in the yard that needed a good treeing.

When Zephyr died, Daphne assumed her rightful role as the alpha dog, though she was a laid back alpha. She never learned to like walks or car rides or going anywhere for that matter, but in the house and in the yard, she was boss. She even overcame her fear of strangers, running to the door when people came over.

We just let her be the dog she wanted to be, and I think it made her happy.

Last Friday, we learned she had cancer. We brought her home for a few more of those precious days. She wouldn’t run anymore, instead walking slowly. She mostly just wanted to hop up on the couch and curl up beside us, resting her head in our laps as we read or watched TV. She still ate a little, but yesterday she took a sudden turn for the worse.

I left work early because I just had a feeling I should. When I got home, I found her on her bed with Simon the cat lying near her. She obviously wasn’t feeling well, and she’d thrown up a lot. Knowing it was time, I called the vet.

R came home shortly after, and we sat with Daphne on her bed while we waited for the vet. Joey and Phoebe and Simon even joined the vigil. When it was time, she passed peacefully in her home, on her bed, surrounded by her people.

We’ll miss our big Daph terribly, but as with the others who went before, I know it won’t be long before thinking about her makes us smile rather than cry.

And somewhere, at the great greyhound meet-n-greet in the sky, Zephyr is surely sniffing her old friend’s butt and saying, “Come on. The squirrels are this way…”

Thanks to y’all who sent well wishes.

Update: Thanks, Fred, for letting Daphne roam the marbled halls of Ironicus Maximus today.

Want to make a fast friend by saving a greyhound in Central Texas? Check these pups out. Or go here to find a greyhound near you. You can also go here to find out why greyhounds are running for their lives.

If you have dogs who need proven leadership, go here to find a cat.

15 Comments

  1. I’m so sorry, but thank you for that touching tribute.

  2. Until now we never realized how easy it was to love a dog we never met. Our thoughts are with you all.

  3. I only met Daphne a couple of times, but it only took twice to know what a special dog she was. I like thinking she has reunited with old pet buddies. What a wonderful, heartfelt piece.

  4. James, what a beautiful and perfect summary of Miss Daphne. I will never forget the night soon after you got her when she kicked our dog’s ass right good for having messed with Zephyr. And how she would sneak up to say hello to me or Brett when she thought nobody was looking.

    We’ll miss her, too. Thanks for sharing her with us, for the past 6 years, and with this tribute. If there’s a heaven, you guys have a special place in it for how well you care for your animals.

  5. Val, I’m still laughing about the way she rose up on her hind legs, front legs flailing and mouth open like a little blond grizzly bear.

    And, thanks again, everyone, for your kind words.

  6. That was so touching, and I’m so sorry about your loss.

    Isn’t it amazing how they’re personalities change when they know they’ve found their home? You really made Daphne’s special.

  7. This should have made me cry, but it didn’t. It made me smile. Remembering how Daphne indeed assumed her spot as the alpha dog…but a benevolent alpha. And how much she loved you guys and what a great home you gave her.

  8. Damn. But if there’s ever proof how special dogs are, it’s in writing as fine as this to memorialize them.

  9. Daphne is so lucky to have such a loving family. What a lovely memorial (I’m going to cry all day). Happy squirrel hunting Daphne.

  10. What a lovely tribute to Daphne. I know she was very precious to you. Be well.

  11. I’m so very sorry. But glad, too, that you and Daphne found each other. It sounds like she had a very good life.

  12. I am so sorry for your loss. It’s never easy, but I’m glad that Daphne let you know that it was time. And I’m so glad that she was surrounded by all those who loved her and whom she loved at the end. This was a beautiful tribute to her life. Thank you for sharing her with us through the blog.

  13. Thanks again, everybody. Your kind words mean a lot to us.

  14. Stopped in from Jon Swift, I own the anti-greyhound…150# Great White Pyrenese, Gus. Not anything alike, but still the same. sorry.

  15. Hello-Jon Swift’s BB Posts of 2008 pointed me here. This is a touching post! If we get another dog, we have definitely thought about getting a greyhound! What a wonderful, loving dog Daphne was! And she was very loved by you! This a moving post! Those are wonderful photos of her!
    Thanks for reminding us about living for the moment!

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