Three years ago today (March 24) this girl sashayed her way into our lives.

Daphne on the day she came to stay with us

Daphne on the day she came to stay with us

I think many of you knew on that very day that she was with us to stay. But I still thought we were fostering her. That it was too soon after Seamus’s passing to even think about another dog in our lives. But then, this:

“A few nights later we were back on the couch, sipping a glass of wine and watching a movie. I saw Daphne through the French doors. She trotted across the patio, her usual cheerful self. But there was something in her mouth. Something long and brown. Fearing she had a mouse or a lizard, I got up to check. Daphne turned to look at me, wagging her tail in her full throttle Doodlebutt way. She came to my side, without dropping what she had in her mouth. When I bent to look closer I realized what she had and tears welled up again.

            Daphne was holding one of the two bully sticks that had been sent to Seamus. Seamus had gleefully chewed the first of them on his birthday, and we never knew what had happened to the other. Seamus was never a digger, so we assumed it was just in his toy box somewhere. But, it seemed, he’d buried this second one in the yard. And Daphne had found it. She trotted away from me, hopped up on the same lounge chair, and began contentedly gnawing on the stick, her tail still wagging.

Our girl

Our girl

            And then I knew. There were two bully sticks for a reason. Seamus had enjoyed one and left another for the next beagle. The bully stick baton had been passed. Daphne Doodlebutt was ours, lumps and all.

I went back in the house. “Okay. We’re keeping her.”

“Really? Yay!” Chris got up and hugged me, then went outside to Daphne. “You’re all ours Doodlebutt.” She thumped her tail repeatedly, but did not let go of the bully stick.

“But there’s just one thing,” I said as I joined them on the patio. “I want to adopt one of the Beagle Freedom Project dogs, too. Maybe Comet is still available?”

[excerpt from Chapter 8 of “The Dogs Were Rescued (and So Was I)” which you’ve totally read by now, right? Right?!}

Comet was of course the dog we all now know as Percival. And I can still remember this moment like it was yesterday– the moment our new family was formed. The moment Seamus said “it’s okay.”

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Daphne is in so many ways the same dog (independent, outdoorsy, big love bug) but also quite a different dog. For one, she’s slimmed down–so much that sometimes I sneak her extra treats. She’s also quite a “mama’s girl.” Though  Chris was first to want to adopt her, and though he’s generally more fond of girl dogs, Daphne did not get that memo. Daphne loves her mama. Waits for her mama. Listens only to her mama. Sleeps next to her mama. Adores her mama in a way that is only slightly less manic than the way in which Percival loves Chris. Which means all is right in the world… or our house at least. The four of us are quite a team. Everybody loves everybody, but the “favorite” pairings are pretty obvious too.

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We often joke that Daphne is me in beagle form. She’s not the most sociable dog, and she is crazy independent, but if she loves you, she loves you fiercely. She isn’t crazy about other dogs (read: bitches), but she does love going out and having fun…for a little while. Then she wants to be home…with her peeps. She also crazy loyal, a big foodie, and well, she does love her creature comforts. And, she’s a cancer survivor.

If you’ve read The Dogs Were Rescued (and So Was I), you know she battled cancer and had a giant mast cell tumor (just like what Seamus had) removed. What you might not know is that she’s had five other tumors removed. Each time we’ve had clear margins and the tumors were “low grade” so no further treatment has been necessary. But each time has sent us into a tailspin.  That was made more difficult by a battle with the pet insurance carrier. I may blog about that in the future, because my battle was probably not unique and I think sharing information is important. Much like when Seamus and I went through our cancer battles, it seems frustratingly necessary to continue to fight and where necessary wage war to get the care and treatment one should be accorded in such a situation. Again I was left wondering what people who aren’t lawyers do when they run up against such obvious evasion and efforts to deny the services one has clearly paid for and earned. But like I said, post for another day. This one is about our Doodlebutt.

She’s doing great now. Her favorite things are belly rubs, food, and me (probably because I deliver the first two things on a regular basis but let’s not dwell on that). She insists on sleeping firmly against some part of me, and though she doesn’t wake us in the morning, at the first sign that either of us is awake, she begins pawing at my hands for her belly rubs. As soon as she knows we are awake, she crawls between us and insists on her lovin’ cuddle time. She expects that at night as well, and has a special evening routine with Chris that we call “Manic Daphne” where she wants belly rubs and kisses and gets ecstatically happy, but then returns to me and wants quiet cuddles and to be pressed up against me. Until it’s time for her bedtime treat. She’s never met a food she didn’t like, and she’ll instantly respond if she thinks there’s a treat involved. She’ll also go anywhere we go. We call her our “country dog” (to Percival’s “city dog”), and she is fearless, adventurous and adorable, all wrapped in 30 lbs of pure beagle. She loves walks and would go on for days if we didn’t have to get home and get to work. She has big, round, soulful brown eyes that were dubbed “root beer candy eyes” by a reporter, and girl knows how to work those eyes. She tolerates and occasionally loves Percival, though we suspect she would prefer to be the only object of our adoration and affection. We assure her there is enough for two. “Two hands for two beagles” we tell her, usually as she nudges our hands or body-slams Percival to get all the attention for herself.

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We expect we’ll have more cancer battles in the future with this girl. But we know she’s a fighter. And we know she’s with us for a reason. She and I, well, we got a thing. And that thing includes fighting on.

Oh you, pretty, pretty Daphne, we love you. Happy 3 year anniversary to us all.

Photo from Daphne's first trip to Paso Robles in April, 2013.

Photo from Daphne’s first trip to Paso Robles in April, 2013.