Daisy: A Girl's First Best Friend

Daisy: A Girl's First Best Friend

A tribute and thank you to my childhood Labrador retriever and nanny
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When people talk about their childhood pets, I joke that I was raised be a Labrador Retriever. I joke, but it’s partially true. Daisy was a golden furred, brown eyed, four legged angel. She was five when I was born and disrupted all peace at the house. My brother was ten and well mannered. She never had to fear a pulled tail or tugged ears from him. But I was a screaming, toddling terror that attacked anything that moved. Namely her. Daisy didn’t mind, though.

My earliest memory is sitting in my diaper on the kitchen floor, surrounded by Tupperware that I had pulled from the cabinets. Daisy, my ever watchful companion, did not alert Mom, but kept a look out for trouble. Or maybe my earliest memory is sitting on the couch, Daisy curled beside me. I remember watching her as she yawned and sticking my tiny, round fingers in her mouth to catch her slobbery, pink tongue. She blinked at me and gently pulled back before shutting her mouth, so her sharp canines didn’t catch my hand. Her ears were especially fun to play with. They were incredibly soft, like smooth silk. But if I ever grabbed too eagerly, she never nipped at me. Even when I occasionally tried to ride her like a horse, she gently walked about, careful not to toss me off.

As I got older, Daisy and I developed a habit of tea parties on the living room floor. Daisy was getting older too, but as her energy waned, her patience did not. I would lure her from her favorite sunny spot near the back door with a stash of stolen doggie treats. I knew the way to her heart was with food. Like me. We were sisters, after all. She would lay on my spread out table cloth, often times covering up the cups and platters I had sat out for our imaginary feast. Most of the time she would settle into a snooze once she realized my bait had been used up. But some days, especially when we were both still young and spry, she would let me dress her up. One day I sat on the floor of my bedroom and struggled to put one of my old t-shirts on her. She calmly let me lift her paws and shove her skinny legs into the arm holes. We struggled for a while with getting it over her wide head and silky ears. Once the shirt was on, it was clear that it was too tight for her broad dog chest, but she didn’t seem to mind. Instead, she just calmly went in search of my mom or someone else competent enough to release her from her new straightjacket. Her strong whip of a tail whacked my door frame in farewell as she left.

Daisy may have had seemingly unending patience, but she still needed her alone time. Whenever she was nervous or just overwhelmingly tired, she would retreat to her crate. That was her sanctuary, a place to hide away from the crazy toddler terror. Or at least, that is probably what she intended for it to be. But if I ever discovered her there, I would promptly crawl in beside her. We both liked enclosed spaces (though I grew out of that), and I would regularly create a blanket fort for us in the living room. She was too large to squeeze in with me, but her head or a paw often poked its way inside. Sometimes, she would simply lay on the sunny side of the fort, her shadow pressed up against the sheets. Her gentle presence was always there, keeping careful watch over her mischievous charge.

I wasn’t the only one that could be mischievous, though. Daisy was a saint, but she had a hidden naughty streak. Her fondness for food often led her to steal pies and other delicious treats whenever her long snout could reach. She would eat anything—except lettuce without dressing. That was asking too much of her. The toothpaste tube, cap included, could be easily downed and pooped out a few days later, but lettuce without dressing appalled her (as it should anyone). And, though she kept a close watch on me, Daisy liked to sneak away from the house in search of tasty treats the neighbors might have tossed. She would sit in the front yard, sunning herself and serenely sniffing the air for any good finds. Slowly, when our backs were turned, she would inch her way closer and closer to the edge of our property. She always did it so discretely; it was impossible to notice she was even moving further away. Then, in a flash, she’d vanish between one blink and the next. Often times, it would take hours to find her, usually happily chomping down on some tasty piece of trash she’d found three houses down. Despite all the scolding she would inevitably get, she never gave up the habit until her joints became too painful for her to move very far from the house.

Sometimes, especially as I got old enough to notice differences between my appearance and the appearance of the rest of my family, I wondered if I was actually related to Daisy, instead of my parents. I was golden haired and brown eyed, just like her. My parents, however, had thick dark hair. My brother and my dad both had blue eyes, another noticeable difference. Naturally, my four-year-old brain wondered if maybe I’d been adopted from wherever Daisy came from. Of course, just to clarify, I was wrong—I do actually look a considerable amount like the rest of my family now. But when your dog is the sibling you most resemble, you do start to wonder.

Daisy passed away at the old age of sixteen. She lived a full life, though much of her older years were spent guarding my antics. She may have been a dog, but she was my sister and guardian, my loving caretaker. Her sweet, mischievous spirit created so many of my childhood memories, and she was my first best friend. I don’t know if she understood me when I told her “I love you” as I held her frail and gray paw those last few moments we had together. I don’t know if she even still had all those memories I will keep forever. But I know that she loved me, and for that, I will always be grateful to a patient, sweet Labrador named Daisy.

Cover Image Credit: Anna Smith

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Goodbye Freshman Year

I miss you already

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Flashback to mid-August, the most emotional week of my life when I anxiously packed my mom's car with all of my belongings. I carefully closed the trunk, thinking it would bust open the second we hit a pot hole or took too sharp of a turn. We began the 6-hour drive and I had no idea what I was venturing into. I texted my friends about how boring the car ride was, I posted a goodbye message to my house on social media, and I laid down in the backseat listening to the radio and signing along with my parents for the last time. I mean… not for the last last time but for the last time as a kid that actually lives at home.

Moving away from home, from my small little town, from everything I knew… it didn't scare me. I looked forward to it and I eagerly awaited the day I would start my own life since I began thinking about college in elementary school- even back then my dream schools were always out of state. Even back then, though I didn't know it at the time, I wanted to prove to myself and to the world that I could be independent.

It's funny when I think about it now because I am the most independently dependent person I've ever met. I mean, I moved over 400 miles away from everything I knew but I still call my mom whenever I get the sniffles even though I know what medicine to buy and to drink orange juice. I moved over 400 miles away and I still ask my roommate to go across the street to get food with me because I don't like waiting in line by myself. I moved over 400 miles away, but I still call my mom almost every day and talk for over an hour each time because I miss the sound of her voice. I moved over 400 miles away, but I still sleep with the stuffed animal I got when I was 2 because it smells like home. But even that is funny because I call college home. I call my dorm home, I call these new people home. But now I have to say goodbye to my freshman year, and I miss it already.

I didn't cry about moving until I went grocery shopping with my parents for my dorm, and I didn't stop crying until at least three days after that. I knew I could do it, but nonetheless I was terrified of failing. I was so scared that I was going to disappoint my mom, or any of my family really. I had worked so hard for so long to get here, but I didn't know what came after that. I made it, I got into college, I moved in… but now what?

Well

Now, I have some of the best people I ever could have imagined in my life. The friends I have made in the last nine months have truly changed my life. I have the best memories with these people; from football games to study parties with pizza at 3 am, from church to horror movie marathons, and from holiday celebrations with crafts in my room to going on last minute adventures to places we've never been. They have seen me cry, they've seen me laugh so hard I couldn't breathe, they've seen me have breakdowns through stress, but most importantly they've seen the real me. I've changed a lot through the last two semesters, we all have. But they've stuck with me-they've loved me for my quirks and for my insecurities, for my ten-minute laughing fits and for my makeup obsession, for my shady comebacks and for my annoyingly optimistic view on everything. They're my home.

Now, I know what I want to do. Yes, I've made some questionable decisions and mistakes in my first year here, but I've never lost sight of who I am and who I want to be. I'm still working some things out, but I am reminded every single day why I am here. I can honestly say that even while I sit in my classes I genuinely love being here, and I am falling more and more in love with my major every single day. I still have three years left and I can't wait to see what they bring, but so far I'm in love. I'm in love with life, I'm in love with my school, I'm in love with my future.

Now, I walk around this campus that seemed so huge at first, and I am still in shock that I am here. I see the groups of high schoolers on tours around campus and I smile, remembering what it was like when I toured here with my dad. I think about how this school, full of over 30,000 students, can somehow feel like such a close-knit family and how it really has become my home.

Now, with less than two weeks left in my freshman year, I'm just as emotional as I was in my first week. I'm excited to go home and see my family, and I'm stoked to see what the next few years will bring, but I don't want to leave. I don't want to wake up in the morning and not see my roommate or not be able to take walks around this gorgeous campus. I don't want to finish packing all of these boxes and squish them back into the car. I don't want to wait three whole months to be back at Willy-B screaming with the rest of my gamecocks.

I never expected my first year to go the way it has, and I never expected it to fly by this fast, despite what everyone told me.

Now, in two weeks when I move out and make that 6 hour drive back to my first home, texting friends, posting goodbye messages to my dorm, and singing along to the radio, I think I will actually cry. Not only because I'm sad about leaving, but because now...I know. I know now that I am capable but that I do still need my mom. I know now that I have to say goodbye to my friends here but that I won't lose them. I know now that I will be okay, and my future will be brighter than I ever could have imagined. I know that I have a home and a family to come back to in three months and I know that because of that, there's nothing to be scared of.

Goodbye freshman year, I miss you already.

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10 Pieces Of Advice From My Parents That Have Helped Me Survive This Thing Called Life

I don't like admitting that they're right, but they've helped me through more than they'll ever know.

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As I've entered my 20s and have made it halfway through college, I've learned that life can be hard and challenging at times. Like many kids, when I was growing up, I could care less about what my parent's advice or opinions were. Nine times out of ten, I would do the complete opposite of what they said. Once I got older and actually started listening to their advice and put it into perceptive, I learned that they're right more often than I'd like to admit.

1. Don't take things for granted

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I've learned to cherish what I have because I might not always have it. It's easy to take life itself and many things it involves for granted. They've taught me to take a step back from this crazy life sometimes and be grateful for all that I have.

2. Don't be afraid to put your heart on your sleeve

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My parents have taught me that if you feel something, don't be afraid to say it or embrace it. If you love someone, then tell them. Don't be afraid to put your heart out there just because you might get hurt.

3. Be vulnerable

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In life, in relationships, in your work. Take risks, get shot down, and then try again. Being vulnerable is scary yet so powerful.

4. You can never have too many shoes

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Otherwise known as it's okay to treat yourself. Life is hard, so take care of you. If that means going on a shopping spree every once in a while, then so be it.

5. You're going to be okay

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Whatever it is you're going through, you're going through it and you're going to come out on the other side. It may seem horrible now, but you'll learn from it and be okay in the end.

6. You have to have friends in life

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It's important to have people to lean on, especially on your bad days, and to celebrate with on your good ones. You can't just have you or a significant other to rely on.

7. Never be afraid to share your opinion

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Don't be afraid to put your thoughts and opinions out there because they might be wrong. They could have a huge impact on someone or something.

8. Don't stress over things you have no control over

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Everyone is on their own path, which means everything will work out the way it's supposed to, even if it doesn't make sense right now. Again, you're going to be okay.

9. Happy, healthy, wealthy, wise

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My dad always says if you tell yourself every day that you're happy with yourself or your life, you're healthy and strong, you're wealthy in love and surrounded by great people, and you're knowledgable or wise, then you can achieve anything in life.

10.  S*** or get off the pot

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My all-time favorite piece of advice. Making decisions can be hard and scary, especially if the outcome could be getting hurt in the end. So, you either make a decision and roll with it no matter the outcome or you walk away.

Thanks, mom and dad for always being a phone call away when I need it! Just know that your advice and words of wisdom don't go unnoticed. For others, your parents have been on this planet much longer than you have and most likely experienced the same situations that you're dealing with. They don't have all the answers, but they are there to help.

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