Daisy May Ramstad, 2007-6/6/2022

I want to tell you that she was a good dog, as obituaries generally require us to speak well of the dead, but she was not, by most objective measures, a good dog. She paid attention to our words and wishes only when she wanted to, she was never reliably housebroken (not because she didn’t understand or couldn’t comply with the expectations, but because she really preferred, like the humans in her pack, to go inside), and she was notorious for getting her longtime companion, Rocky, all worked up over nothing. She was a fan of the grudge poop (middle of the hallway, where it couldn’t be missed), and she had no fucks to give about things we might have felt important that she did not.

Which just goes to show that you don’t have to be good to be loved–because love her we did, unconditionally and deeply. Sometimes we loved her more because she wasn’t “good,” and she had us laughing even as we scolded her (such as the time we caught her on the kitchen table, licking butter from the butter dish). She was funny, and strong-willed, and sassy. She did what she wanted. Lucky for us, one of the things she wanted all the time was to be as close to one of her humans as physically possible.

Aside from being with us, her favorite things were eating and taking a nap in a patch of sun. We could all learn a thing or two about living a happy life from her. (Take the nap. Eat with gusto. Love what you love without reservation.)

(I knew the end was approaching when she stopped leaping with excitement over her bowl being filled.)

As a young dog, she loved playing at the river and doing whatever her three kids wanted her to do, even if it involved wearing dress-up clothes. In recent years, she was happiest having a good nap with or on one of her humans.

These last few years, when I looked at her and remembered how she once was–back when she had teeth, and fur on her ears, and a plump belly–I thought often of a passage from The Velveteen Rabbit:

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

If Daisy was nothing else, she was Real: a small bundle of a being full of desire and need, which gave her a full range of qualities: loving, needy, generous, petty, delightful, naughty, interesting, infuriating, fun. One of the great gifts of Daisy was the way she showed us that being real is more important than being good. That we can be loved not in spite of our foibles and flaws, but because of them. I like to think that in loving Daisy, we we all became a little better at loving each other and ourselves.

She is, and will long be, missed.

21 thoughts on “Daisy May Ramstad, 2007-6/6/2022

  1. Kate says:

    Oh Rita. This brought tears to my eyes. I know how beloved Daisy was and I’m so glad she got to spend her life with you, who knew how to love her not just in spite of but because of.

    I loved the pictures you shared. They show her as the character you describe. What a lovely tribute.

    Sending hugs!!

    • Rita says:

      I will take all the hugs. It has been a really hard week, saying good-bye to Daisy and my students and teaching (again). She was the last big connection to my kids’ childhood, so I’ve been saying good-bye to that, too. Just because things are right (she was suffering, and now she’s not) doesn’t make them easy, does it? Oof, this business of being human.

  2. TD says:

    “Take the nap. Eat with gusto. Love what you love without reservation.” ~ Daisy May

    Sending more hugs with extra doggo licks from Yorkie.

  3. Paul says:

    Our condolences Rita, sorry to hear about Daisy…Maude sends her sympathy and will continue in the same behavior modes you describe…..that’s what makes them so endearing. I remember them both fondly running around at CAL, more personality than most people we meet. Time will heal the loss but never erase the memories……

    • Rita says:

      Oh my–remember the days when a person could bring their dogs to CAL and let them run around? Thanks for reminding me of that–which also made me think of the day I thought I was going to ride out the historic snowfall at CAL with them, and you thought (I know!) that I was crazy. 🙂

      Good to know Maude will carry on the Doxie code 🙂

  4. Skye Leslie says:

    I’m sorry for this enormous loss. The space a beloved dog occupies is so much larger, wider, higher than their actual size.

    I, too, have a familiar who is adored apart from her rock hard stubbornness, her refusal to eat anything she hasn’t seen us put to our mouths first. I’ve probably held 1,000 teaspoons of her food to my mouth. And the fact that I have to kennel her whenever I take a long road trip because she becomes psychotic in the car.

    But this is about Daisy. I had the pleasure of meeting her once. I’m glad you all had one another. Glad her seal coat touched your bodies, happy she had such a distinctive personality and most of all that her unconditional love bound you all together.

    Always love

    • Rita says:

      Skye,
      I love hearing about your familiar. 🙂 Made me smile. I am so glad you have someone in this season of your life. Daisy (and Rocky) helped me through some really hard years in mine. Aren’t we lucky in having that, to comfort us in weathering other losses?

  5. Marian says:

    “. . . she showed us that being real is more important than being good. That we can be loved not in spite of our foibles and flaws, but because of them. I like to think that in loving Daisy, we we all became a little better at loving each other and ourselves.”
    This is lovely, Rita. I’m so sorry for your loss. What you said in response to Kate, about Daisy being “the last big connection to my kids’ childhood,” makes it doubly hard. It’s rarely ever just about the one thing, but rather everything associated with it, hey?

    • Rita says:

      Always, at least for people wired as we are. Thank you for your condolences and your understanding. I always appreciate being seen by you.

  6. Lisa in Seattle says:

    Ah, I’m sorry. It’s so hard with elderly animals when you’ve seen this coming from a long ways off, padding inexorably closer every day. She may not have been “a good dog” but she was an *excellent* dachshund (and I should know, growing up with four of them). You were a perfect family and perfect home for her, where she was allowed to be independent and clever and naughty and loving and sweet. May we all be treated with as much care, affection and understanding when we reach the twilight of our time. Thinking of you all today.

    • Rita says:

      Oh, thank you for such kind words! I had no idea what I was getting into when I took on our two dachshunds–really, none. I don’t know that we allowed her to be naughty and independent; we tried numerous ways to tame some of that out of her, but she was having none of it! I came to appreciate her ways of asserting her wants/needs. One of the hardest parts of walking her to the end was seeing her lose her sass and spirit to dementia, although we then learned to love her in a different way. Yes, I thought often of how I hope I will be cared for as I cared for her, and was conscious of the modeling I was providing for my kids. 🙂

  7. Sarah says:

    Oh, Rita. I’m so so sorry for the loss of your pup. She had such a full and good life with you. This is such a lovely tribute to her, too. I’m sending lots of hugs and thoughts your way.

  8. Kari says:

    I’m sobbing at my computer. Even though I hate that Daisy is gone, I love this post.
    “You don’t have to be good to be loved” is what got me.
    I wish dogs could live forever.

    So much love to you.
    Kari recently posted…What is Equanimity?My Profile

    • Rita says:

      Dogs definitely don’t live long enough. I think everyone who’s ever loved a dog would agree with that. 🙂 I’m feeling better about it all now, more than a week later. I’m still reflexively thinking I need to do something because of or for her, but that’s starting to fade just a little. I’m now more relieved that she’s no longer suffering than I am sad that she’s not here. I’m realizing how heavy a burden she’d become, and that meant that living was hard for her, too.

      • TD says:

        I’m glad to that you are feeling a bit better, Rita. It truly takes time for our heart to catch up with our brain. It’s good that you have a place to talk about your feelings freely. TD

  9. Ally Bean says:

    Your memories of Daisy are poignant and as real as she was. I’m charmed by her getting caught on the kitchen table, licking butter from the butter dish. What a scoundrel. Your photos are a wonderful addition to this story. My condolences on her passing.

    • Rita says:

      Thanks, Ally. We couldn’t believe it when we caught her on the table! Like, how did she even get up there with her short little legs? It remains a mystery, one that will now never be solved.

  10. Debs Carey says:

    Huge hugs to you and all Daisy’s beloved humans. She was clearly extraordinary and had learned lessons from the cat world. I’ve a soft spot for dachshunds, and just love their complete disregard for their (lack of) size. If I were to have a dog again, it’s likely it would be a dachshund. I can but hope that the one I find will have as much character as your Daisy.
    Debs Carey recently posted…When where you live doesn’t feel like HomeMy Profile

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