About ten years ago, when I was working for a legal messenger service, I met Sierra, a truly gorgeous gal, with long brown chestnut hair, an unforgettable face, and the most beautiful tattoos I’ve ever seen. We had a lot in common, similar interests and teenage years, a mutual love of tattoos and Lenore and random stuff that made us happy. I soon was introduced to her beautiful brown and white constant companion, a pitty named Daisy Maez.
Pit bulls are mostly loveable goofballs; I have always had a soft spot for pitties–ever since I fell in love with a brindle on the road as a teen, and Daisy was no exception. When Sierra moved into a studio in downtown San Francisco, near the Tenderloin, I went and babysit Daisy, chasing her round and round the trunk in the middle of the living room, an endless game of catch with her tug toy.
Guess who always won?
I was on a bus with Sierra when she found out she was facing a nightmare. Crying, she told me that Daisy’s tail had an infection and would have to be amputated. She spent all her monies on fixing her little dog, without a thought, never complaining about the hard work she had to do as a bike messenger to earn enough.
Over the years, Sierra, Daisy and I met up for nature walks, to Lake Anza in Tilden Park, where Sierra and I would talk about life, the universe and everything thereafter while Daisy ran ahead and swam in the lake, chasing ducks, smiling big.
Years passed, Sierra and I both moved out of the city in separate directions, seldom bumping into each other anymore. Jobs changed, my hair styles changed, we both acquired more tattoos and kept in touch through text messages and Myspace, then Facebook.
One day, when I was unemployed, we decided to meet in a park near San Francisco, so that I could introduce my red-nosed pup Jix to Daisy, my favorite doggy.
I was worried–Jix is not the best off-leash dog, so I seldom let her off it. She roams too far, finds trouble, gets rough if provoked, so I keep the cardinal rule of pit bull ownership: if your dog is dog-selective, keep it safe from any variation in the plan such as pesky dogs not under control of their owners.
But here, in the sandy dog park near the beach cliffs, there was no one around and I let her off leash for the first time since she tore her CCL. Soon, we saw Sierra’s long, brown hair and cut-off dickies, and a little brown bump moving slowly towards us. Jix did a play bow, then raced across the sand to say hello, and Daisy and Jix were instant BFF’s at first sight.
As I got closer to Dais, running after Jix to keep an eye on her, I noticed that too much time had passed. She was gentler, more prim, with graceful movements and a big sprinkling of white whiskers on her regal nose. Sierra’s little pup had become an old lady! Never was I more aware of the passing of time, and how for dogs and people, there’s a big discrepancy. I kept expecting to see young, spry Daisy.
That day, Dais and Jix walked side by side, smelling the same things, stopping at the same spots, Jix doing everything Daisy did.
They raced through the same fence to play, Daisy running out of wind before Jix, but keeping it up to the end, regardless.
Though Daisy never wandered far from her mom, Jix disappeared for long stretches, exploring further and further away from us. Finally, when she decided that she was the boss of everyone else, and Daisy, Jix, Sierra and I were her posse, I put her back on leash.
Watching Sierra with Daisy Maez over the years, I was always amazed. I feel I’m constantly impatient with Jix, always scolding her for antics (trying to tear my arm off chasing squirrels, eating my food, sleeping on my things) Sierra has always seemed accommodating to her pup, posting pictures of Daisy all wrapped snug in blankets, giving her home cooked meals, her spotted belly nice rubs.
I can say that Daisy, who passed away two days ago after struggling with recently diagnosed Lymphoma at 10 1/2 years old, had the best life I’ve ever known a dog to have, most always by her mama’s side, always put first, given shelter and love and kisses. Though Sierra struggled to make ends meet through a tumultuous economy, and some jobs that were really hard to deal with, she never, ever entertained the thought of parting with her doggie BFF.
This post is in honor of Daisy Maez, a dog most everyone who knew loved dearly, and for Sierra, who has given me the best example I’ve ever seen of a pet mama, especially among those of us who keep pitties and fight for the day that the horrible stigmas attached to them are forgotten. May we all aspire to unabashedly care for our furry adopted kin, remembering that their days are not as long as ours, walking side by side with them until they pass into the next realm, whatever it is, on to bigger and better things this plane cannot provide.
Thank you, Sierra, for teaching me how to love my own dog again, in spite of her endless health issues, mischievousness, and the stealin’ of my cupcakes, endlessly. ♥♥♥ you so much.