Happy 1st Valentine’s Day in Heaven, dear Dad Denny!


Two months ago, my dear father-in-law Denny passed into Eternity after a brief battle with bladder cancer.

I’d known him since I was a child. Our hometown is small, and Mr. Dennis Miller worked at a local furniture store that my family frequented on a number of occasions. Funny and kind by nature, my sister Katie and I always hoped he’d be the sales representative that would assist us in our hunt for the perfect desk or bed or bookshelf.

How was I to know that Mr. Miller would go from knowledgeable furniture salesman to future father-in-law? Before I’d call him “Dad” however, he oversaw my work as a candy striper at an area hospital where he was employed as its director of volunteers.

I spent a lot of time at the Miller’s house (Yes, we share the same last name!) on College Street in Covington, Ohio, and I’d say I grew to be like another daughter to them. I was only thirteen when I became Billy’s girlfriend, and we divided our time together between his house and mine. Thus, his parents became like my own; mine like his, too.

Denny always loved his and others’ dogs. For the duration of our dating years, Bill’s family pet was a Cocker Spaniel named Gretchen, and I loved her, as well. After we’d been married a couple years, we learned of her passing, and we knew Dad Denny certainly grieved.

When Daisy–a cute Cockapoo–joined the family some years later, Denny’s heart had healed enough to let another dog in, and although Daisy was technically Denny’s and Faith’s granddaughter’s, this pooch was always particularly special to Denny. “She’s a circus dog!” he’d proclaim, and Daisy would dance around just to prove her “Big Top” skills.

Some time ago, Denny said to me, “You need to write her story. You can call it Daisy the Circus Dog. It’s certain to be a best-seller because it’ll be about such an amazing dog!” And we’d laughed, imaging the long lines at Barnes and Noble–Daisy pressing her paw print onto the inside cover, giving her autograph to all those who’d waited, no doubt, those many hours to meet the famous pooch.

Denny would say it often–always the same. “You need to write her story!”

Daisy the Circus Dog’!

We learned that Denny had cancer in June 2019, but we hoped he’d beat it–especially after he underwent extensive surgery in early August. Unfortunately, however, we soon learned it had spread, and sometimes hope felt difficult to find.

The idea for Daisy the Circus Dog never left, and I just kept thinking, One day… but “one day”–given Denny’s illness–felt so uncertain.

One morning in September, I awoke with the “poem story” pressing particularly hard upon my heart. Sitting down at the computer to try and write it, I hoped its completion would bring my father-in-law a smile. I had no idea how God would show up, but He certainly did–not only enabling me to write this ballad (twenty-nine 4-line stanzas in “ABCB” rhyme scheme) but to also write a biblical application that was and forever will be so fitting for my father-in-law (to be posted with some “backstory” in Part 2 of “Daisy the Circus Dog”).

The entire story was written in only several hours on that late summer day, and I was able to present it in an informal manner (secured in a 3-ring binder) to Denny days later as a belated birthday gift. Then, with the help of my husband Bill (who took photographs) and our nephew Dakota (who assisted with layout and graphic design), we were able to give Dad Denny a hard-bound copy on Thanksgiving Day. (Thank you, Shutterfly!)

Denny’s favorite movie was The Greatest Showman; his favorite clown–Daisy, his circus dog, of course. Mostly, Denny’s dearest love was his Savior, who truly is the Greatest Showman–the Word who spoke this beautiful world into being (John 1:1-5).

And that’s Who Dad’s with today–face to face with the One who called him Home on December 10, 2019. On that day, Denny stepped behind the Big Top curtain–Yes, beyond the veil!–and one day we believe we’ll see him again!

Until then, Dad…

Daisy The Circus Dog

 By Maureen Miller


On a bright summer day a pup was born,

Part Poodle and part Cocker;

The sweetest Cockapoo in the mix,

A quiet one, not a loud barker.


Before too long she said farewell

To her momma and her sibs;

A perfect home for her was found,

A place where she would live.


The home was filled with lots of love,

With a Grandpa, Grandma, and Girl;

The Girl named her “Daisy”—what a great name,

And with that, the pup did twirl!


She loved her name and raised a paw

As if to say, “That’s swell!”

And it was then that each did know

Her story’d be one to tell.


In her new home she loved her bed,

Her bowl, her brush, her ball;

But Daisy wasn’t like most pups;

Was she average? Not at all!


No ordinary dog was that Daisy-Doo

She was wise beyond her age;

With all those tricks she seemed to know

She was created for the stage.

“A Circus Dog! That’s what she is!”

The Grandpa did exclaim.

Daisy danced as she thought to herself,

I was made for ‘Big Top’ fame!


From that day on, Daisy saw herself

As a circus dog, for certain;

Common things became magical

Behind that Big Tent curtain.


(Thanks to Bill for taking photographs! And thanks to Daisy for posing!)
(Thanks to Dakota for layout and graphic design.)


Her cozy crate was a place of adventure,

A cannon lit with flame;

Tucked inside, she’d help count down,

Then close her eyes and aim.


In 3-2-1, she’d blast right out

And soar high in the air;

Her fur would fly, her whiskers taut

With no worry and no care.


Having aimed just right she’d surely land

In the net for the high trapeze;

With a loud “KA-BOOM!” she’d fly with grace,

Then somersault with ease.


“The crowds will applaud; they’ll stand and cheer!”

Daisy daydreamed in her crate;

So it wasn’t hard to stay snuggled inside 

While, for her family, she’d wait. 


When they came home, she’d dance around,

Welcoming them with barks;

“What a good girl!” they’d each exclaim. 

“Let’s go out before it gets dark.”


As she was hooked up to her leash

It became for her a harness;

And as they stepped right out the door

She was suddenly a trapeze artist.


She wasn’t walking down the street 

But rather soaring high;

Even the grass blades at her feet

Were spectators watching the sky.


“Will she make it?” each anxiously asked,

Looks of worry on their faces;

“She’s the best there is; surely she will!”

Then conclude with, “Yes, she’ll ace this!”


Not wanting to ever disappoint,

Daisy always did her best;

Just as predicted, she landed the swing,

But that didn’t mean she could rest.


There was so much more for this pup to do,

The excitement made her walk faster;

Once back inside she’d sit at the feet 

Of the man who was her ringmaster. 


As he’d take off his shoes, Daisy would watch

And imagine again the Big Top;

Suddenly sneakers were a trick to perform, 

So this dog would run and then jump.


No longer just tennies, she’d leap through a hoop,

A fiery ring in her thoughts;

The crowd would grow silent but then sing her praise

When they’d see that all hope’s not lost.


Ringmaster would say, “What a good girl!”

Patting the top of her head;

“I always knew you were a brave dog—

The best in the litter,” he said. 


Daisy still beams, her heart feeling full,

So pleased to make him happy;

In her dog opinion, he hung the moon,

Though she knows it sounds rather sappy.


To most, he is “Papaw” but not to this dog;

To Daisy, he is the one

Who runs the show, who holds the key 

To all the ‘Big Top’ fun!


When he calls her to sit upon his knee

A pedestal it is instead,

Painted red, white, and blue, this pup will stand

With a clown hat on her head.


“Daisy the Circus Dog, do some tricks,”

Ringmaster commands his clown.

Then she’ll happily jump—spin and twirl—

On her back legs, she’ll dance around.


Again the crowds holler and loudly shout

For the beautiful Cockapoo 

And then, with a bow, she smiles and barks,

That darling Daisy-Doo…


Who is so much more than an average pup,

(Not that average is bad);

But for her, extraordinary is her aim,

To make Ringmaster glad.


Because more than words can ever say, 

This dog loves the ringmaster most;

And he loves her—his Circus Dog—

Of her, he loves to boast,


“She’s a circus dog! There’s none like her,

She’s one-of-a-kind, you know.”

And indeed, it’s true—he sure loves that dog,

His Daisy—the star of the show.

Dear Jesus, please tell Dad Denny that we love him. Though we believe he is very happy spending his first Valentine’s Day with You–the true Love of his life–we will miss him here. Encourage him to dance with Aunt Amy and dip her the way he always dipped me. Oh, and Jesus–please tell them both the wind chimes that Amy gave us on the day of Dad’s memorial service always make us think of them when they sing so beautifully, blowing in the breeze. What a gift! Finally, tell Dad that I’m sending Daisy the Circus Dog out in his honor. Daisy and I sure hope he’s smiling! Thank you, Jesus.

Aunt Amy Wollebeck gave each family wind chimes at Dad Denny’s memorial service. “To remember him.” And now we’re remembering her too, as she passed away on February 5, 2020. We love them both so much.

I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love (John 15:9–NLT).