Painting of Daisy

We pined for a dog—we hoped for finding the right one—and we got one. The right one implies an instant ‘happily ever after’ scenario, which would be frankly misleading, but I think you’ll enjoy hearing about the journey so far. Here’s how it went down: My husband went online, pulled up profile photos at Foothills Animal Shelter, and made a list of pups we wanted to meet. We poured cups of coffee to-go, hopped in the car and headed out. Holding hands, we strolled into the hallway where the pups ready for adoption eagerly await the daily parade of human visitors.

We had a list, but we simply had to stop at every single enclosure. Some of the pups looked bored—maybe they’re done holding onto hope so tightly; some looked anxious, pacing and barking. Then we stopped at the first girl on our list, Winter Holly, the name given to her by the shelter. She leaned against the gate, trying to get as close as she could. Not knowing the rules, Hubby opened the gate, letting her fold into his arms. Staff members quickly set us straight (whoops), so he extricated himself from her ardent kisses and did as he was told. We said we wanted to meet her in one of their rooms. We went inside and waited. A sweet-faced volunteer brought her to us. The pup jumped up next to me and covered my face with kisses, which made me squeal and laugh. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a smile from the volunteer watching through the glass. Her look said everything: “My work here is done.”

We decided on “Daisy.” It suited her. We brought her to her new home, which we had generously supplied. She found her new bed and her food and water bowls. She was given a bully stick to chew on. We marveled at her knowing how to sit on command and how nicely she walked on a leash. She didn’t really know her name but took very well to an invitation. We congratulated ourselves on finding a great dog.

Not the greatest timing on our part because the very next day, Hubby and I had to go to work. She seemed so mellow in the house and was already a year old. “Maybe she’ll be good just having the run of the place,” we foolishly agreed. I got a call from the neighbor a few hours later. She’d jumped the fence. Ninety percent of the fenced yard is over 6 feet, but the other 10 percent is 4 feet tall. And she has springs. When I got home, it became apparent that she had not spent a lot of time being trained on what is and what isn’t okay to drag onto the floor. She ruined nothing, but she rearranged many things. The antique fishing basket that lives on a deep windowsill in the living room was on the floor. My easel was knocked over, the partially done painting laying sideways. All the throw pillows were on the floor and two of the couch cushions were pulled askew. The bag of smoked bones that was on the counter was dragged onto the floor—not torn open, but on the floor. There were nose prints high up on every window. I assessed her path through the house, one room at a time, marveling that she bothered many things but destroyed nothing. When Hubby got home, she got so excited that she jumped onto the dining room table—all the way on top with zero effort. Like a cat. That explained a lot. With springs like that, she could reach anything.

The next day, her access was limited to the big master bedroom and the adjoining bathroom. We had dog-proofed it. When I returned in the evening, it took a full 10 minutes of gentle cajoling to get her to stop jumping up on me in her earnest welcoming. No accidents, no destruction, minimal barking, but a bad habit of jumping up. We were starting to think perhaps she was an outside only dog or someone in her past had encouraged jumping. Daisy is about 45 pounds—too big to jump up. Over the next few days, she found obscure things to pull down from the top of the washing machine—a 4-pack of lightbulbs, for instance, which she extricated from the cardboard and laid gently on the made bed. Again, she didn’t break them—she just brought them down. The pillows on the bed were rearranged as were the throw rugs in the bathroom. Again, nothing scratched or destroyed. What a quirky dog! On day two, her excited jumping resulted in knocking a wineglass from my hand, shattering it against the hearth and spraying her white fur with a lovely shade of cabernet. The next day, she jumped while I was holding a lit candle, which dribbled melted wax onto her fur. We’re still picking it out.

Hubby and I both work four 10s, enjoying Fridays off. On Friday, a good friend came over, and Daisy took to her like a long-lost friend. Whatever gains we had achieved on the anti-jumping campaign were lost. Daisy could not get enough of her and felt the need to express her affection by placing her paws on her shoulders.

The next day, we learned that Daisy does bark after all. She had been very quiet up until the moment a giant bull moose decided to mosey onto the property. It was preceeded by a female that was quietly enjoying the fall foliage. She broke into a trot at the sound of Daisy’s growl, and when Daisy barked and paced, she sprinted right past the fence. Daisy lost her mind when the bull came along. He bristled and stomped at her display and then paraded his big girth lazily past the fence. This was the pinnacle of excitement for Daisy. For the rest of the day, she was sure there was a moose lurking in the trees somewhere. And she let it be known that she was on to them. It was then that we learned she has a bark and that she needs to rein it in. We went from zero barking to an intolerable level in record time. Cue the vibrating (not shocking) bark collar, which we outfit her with when we leave. Barking problem over.

Last week, a pair of butternut squashes kept disappearing from the countertop. I found them on her bed and on our bed with chew marks. Under closer scrutiny and in just the right angled light, it was revealed that she had been walking on the countertops. Full paw prints told the story of her path: up by the fruit bowl, careful stepping over the sinks, turning at the stovetop and back again. No damage, just a casual stroll on the countertops. Unbelievably, there is a covered butter dish that sits by the breadbox—untouched butter inside.

Yesterday, we discovered that she could open the pantry. The evidence told the story. When I arrived home, I was surprised to see a 1/3 full bag of flour on the outdoor furniture, snuggled up next to a giant bag of dark chocolate chips. Inside, I found a bunch of bananas on the floor and a container of unsweetened cocoa. Clearly, she was shopping the baking shelf. Either that, or she was getting ready to make banana chocolate chip cookies. As I was putting things to rights, she brought over an unopened bag of brown sugar, retrieved from somewhere. This could have been a nightmare mess, but everything was intact. The only mess is the one I made handling the open bag of flour. It’s a head-scratcher.

Three weeks in, we have decided that Daisy is a conundrum—an example of opposites. She adores having her belly rubbed, but will take you out in the driveway in a rush of unadulterated affection. She likes to sleep on the bed (which we love), but she might just land on our heads on her way up. She sits nicely when asked, but seems oblivious to the command ‘down.’ She loves chasing bugs that find their way into the house—undoubtedly a public service—but will knock over three chairs and an easel to get at them. She is ready to guard the homestead against moose, but then can’t let go of the paranoia that the threat remains. This is our Daisy, who has found a home with us—quirks and all—and we couldn’t be happier. And we know this: With this interesting of a start, there will be many more Daisy stories to come.