Maggie, My Wonderful Maggie
This week, October 3rd, I had to put my shadow, my little cuddler, my dog , my best friend, down. She was 14ish and had been with me for 11 years, give or take.
I was out of of work in 2007, wasting time doing this and that while my unemployment ran out, hoping to hear that my union would get my job back (it did not). I was going to a friend’s house. When I got there, the backyard had a dog in it, in a small 5x8 kennel with a white and black pit bull, food bowl full of water, mud all over. Malia had just gotten a puppy from this dog, and the breeder was done with her. Malia, being the woman she is, decided to take the dog , not knowing what would happen to her otherwise. She was, however worried about how Maggie would be with her cats, so she kept her outside.
I walked to her backyard, took one look at Maggie, who growled at me, and texted her “I’m taking this dog”. I can think of no smarter decision I have made than to take on the well being of a dog while unemployed and with no job prospects.
The start of our friendship was us trying to decide how things would play out. She came from a breeding situation and slept outside, would she get to sleep in the bed with me? Of course. I found her with a water logged food bowl, would she be eating the finest foods? Of course. I’m sure she never was walked or taken places, would she get to accompany me, riding shotgun and getting across the console pettings for those car rides? You’re damned right she did.
On the off chance I had to leave her at home, she stayed in my room with the door closed, but she had her way of letting me know she’d rather be with me. I had a bottle of liquid shoe polish which, after some gentle chewings, I was able to trace her paw prints around the room and onto my bed. I still have those sheets with her little shoe polish paw prints on them. It is safe to say that Maggie and I became best friends pretty quickly. I eventually had to move back home, where Maggie was not allowed. Malia, the kind woman she is, allowed me to keep Maggie there, about a 20 mile drive from where I lived. I drove it twice a day to feed her and hang out with her, spending as much time as I could there. Eventually, when I got her spayed, my parents let her stay at their house until she recovered. They did finally relent and just let her stay.
I can’t recount the amount of things we did together, they are too numerous. From driving up to Baltimore for the first time to meet my wife, to crossing the country multiple times on multiple road trips (she’d been to 46 states), to changing minds about pit bulls (my mom was terrified of them until she met Maggie) to kayaking and hammocking, Maggie lead the life of a loved pet and critical part of our family.
As adventurous as she was, she was a home body, on constant watch for helium filled couch cushions and mattresses, spreading out as much as possible to make sure the bed or couch she was laying on wouldn’t float away. She was an ardent cuddler, fitting her 50 pound body into spaces our lil chihuahua would have trouble fitting, making sure I was warm in the cold winter months by laying next to me and pressing as hard as she was able. I remember, prior to meeting my wife, it was just Maggie and I in the bed, we’d start on the left side of the bed, but I’d wake up on the right side of the bed after a night of Maggie pressing up against me so hard I had to continue to move over.
When I moved in up here, there was a strict “no dogs in the bed” policy which we promptly broke. Carmen would get up for work, and as soon as Maggie heard the door lock, she would wake up, jump in the bed and go back to sleep. Ever the bad influence, Sweetie started following her routine and I was much happier for it.
I’d be remiss to not mention her love of Sweetie. They got along from the start, with only a few instances of dog quarrels to decide who was boss. I’d say it was Maggie. Maggie’s action, however, might say otherwise, especially when Sweetie would fall asleep in Maggie’s bed, instead of using her powerful jaws or bigger body to move her, Maggie would just cry until Sweetie got up, which she usually did. They walked in unison, ears bobbing and little nubs shaking, investigating whatever smellscape the area had provided for them, our little team.
My wife contributed heavily to Maggie living the life she did, taking care of her, walking her every day, feeding her, doing the important things that I seemed to, unfairly, relegate to her. Maggie loved her as much as she loved me, was almost more excited when she came home from work than when I did. If there was a dog more loved than our three, you’d be hard pressed to find them.
I have 11 years worth of stories and memories to draw from while I’m dealing with her being gone. I was the center of her little universe for that time, the highest position I’ll ever attain, and I loved every minute of it. I’ll miss her every single day. They say that a dog leaves a huge hole in your life when they leave, that is something I’d agree with, but I can say, the astoundingly huge mound of happy memories she left me with has been a great comfort to me. Knowing that my wife and I gave her the best life that a little dog I found in a friend’s yard could ask for is special.