But there she was, four years ago, leaning against her cage, staring, silent.
Her age was a guess as she was found on the street, a stray, maybe a runaway or maybe discarded. She was young, younger than the age on her card, as it turns out, and certainly younger than the shelter volunteer would admit.
I learned a valuable lesson that day. Never tell a shelter volunteer what you are looking for in a pet. In their desperate eagerness to get the animal adopted out, they will try to convince you that the old, white Chihuahua snarling at you is in fact the young, sweet black Labrador you've been dreaming about.
I made it clear the minute I walked into the shelter that I wanted a full-grown, medium-sized dog. No puppies and certainly no large dogs. Hershey - our first family pet ever - had just died two weeks earlier and in his long, protracted dying I would have to lift his 65-pound shaky frame into my car to take him to the vet and every day I would have to clean up the mess left by his failing body in much the same way you would a gigantic sad puppy. I made a solemn promise to myself that nothing would ever make me go through that again.
"Yup, she's full grown."
Anyone with an ounce of puppy experience would have seen Daisy's sparkling sharp teeth and big floppy head disproportionate to her adorable little 38-pound body and would have replied "Nope, puppy."
But Hershey was our only experience with a dog and he came with rotted teeth and a previously fractured femur that left his back leg forever dragging behind him. We just didn't know from puppies.
We didn't know from puppies and that's why, for the past four years and almost forty pound later, Daisy is out of her cage and in our home.
Her teeth aren't as white anymore and her body, stout like a barrel, is now in proportion to her head. She's only five, a verifiable five, but you can see her slowing down. She doesn't get up -- or into the car -- like she used to. There are no battered bones, just back hips beginning to betray her.
There are days while sitting on her bed next to the couch, she will lean her thick body against mine and stare, silent.
On these days I allow my hand to rest on her soft solid head while I stare back silently for just a moment.
"Don't worry, girl, there are some promises that are made to be broken."