When Chad told me he wanted to get a dog, I was hesitant.
"Dogs are a lot of responsibility," I warned him.
He was insistent so I set some ground rules:
We had to adopt from a shelter.
The dog had to be an adult.
He had to clean up all poop.
He agreed and set about searching. Then, one day, he emailed me a picture. My heart melted and, when we met her at the shelter, we decided to bring her home.
We named her Maggie, short for Margarita. Her first night, she was disoriented and in pain from her surgery. I slept on the floor next to her, my hand on her side.
As she grew stronger, we came to realize we'd adopted a Princess, not a dog.
She refused to sit in the back of the car and no matter how many gates we tried, we'd walk up to find her sitting in the drivers seat, a smile on her face. We started calling her Houdini with a wry smile.
Everyone who met her, loved her. She was gentle, happy, regal, and beautiful. We dressed her up for Halloween, threw her birthday parties with pupcakes, took her with us to the snow, and to the lake. We found out by accident that she didn't know how to swim which made us laugh because, well, neither do we. I found myself singing "Hello, Maggie" when I walked in the door after work and sneaked her popcorn while I read on slow, rainy days.
She never did well when we weren't home. She stayed with Trina for our honeymoon. We found out later that she'd broken out a bedroom window to get back home to us. The next year, when we went on our anniversary trip, we were told that she refused to leave her bed. She was melodramatic and silly and not really a dog at all.
Rachel once took her for a run up Bishop's Peak. Maggie didn't even make it a quarter of the way before she collapsed and refused to move. Rachel had to carry her back down the hillside and give her water out of her water bottle. From that point on, Maggie would collapse if we made her walk too far and expected her own water bottles.
When the earthquake hit, she and I sat on the grass, my arms wrapped around her neck, her body leaning against mine as the aftershocks shook us.
And when we had Joseph, he became hers. She lay next to his crib every night, whimpering when he cried. She followed us around while we carried him. And when I was home alone with Joseph for the first time, sore and stressed, both him and I crying, she put her head on my lap and licked my arm until Chad got home.
When we brought home Elizabeth, Maggie was annoyed. Not because Elizabeth took her room, but because she was exhausted from moving between the kids' rooms. I'd hear her at night, sighing and shuffling from room to room, making sure the kids were okay. And then, she'd come into our room and let out a loud snort before laying down to sleep.
Both Joseph and Elizabeth stood for the first time holding on to her warm fur. They poked her, lay on her, sat on her, stood on her, and through all the "abuse", she would look at me with long suffering sighs and a resigned look in her eyes.
She was a good guard dog, keeping us safe from cats and raccoons and pizza delivery men. I never felt scared when she was in the house with me. The jingle of her tags and the rasp of her claws let us know she was on duty.
There are a thousand memories of Maggie - the way her fur felt when it was sun warmed, her annoying habit of eating food left in "her" zone, how soft her ears were when I twirled them, how excited she was when she got to run with other dogs, how silly she looked with a chew bone sticking out of her mouth like a cigar, how much she liked wearing a tiara. She touched so many lives.
Yesterday, I went to pick up Elizabeth. Joseph was waiting in the car when I walked in to Gran's house. She told me Maggie had been acting very still. Chad had mentioned earlier that he though she might be getting sick. I sat on the floor next to her, petting her body, twirling her ears. Her tail thumped once as she looked at me out of the corner of her eyes. I felt her heart beat, heard the rasp in her lungs. I worried that she might be getting pneumonia and told Chad to make an appointment with the vet.
Chad said that she'd been slowing down the last three days. She only ate a little bit each day - even when he tempted her with people food last night. He had to carry her outside and up the stairs. And then, last night, while she lay sleeping next to Chad, she passed away.
Our hearts are broken. Tears fill my eyes as I type this. I know she's at the Rainbow Bridge, running with her floppy ears. We gave her a beautiful funeral, burying her beneath an oak and marking her grave with stones.
Rest in Peace, Maggie Dog. You came into this world abused. You left it so very loved. There is a hole in our hearts that will never be filled.
2 hours ago