This is a bit out of character for my usual submissions to PolitiChicks, but every once in a while, it is necessary to take a day off from politics. Lately, my writings have been fewer and further between simply because of my own health issues, a bit of mental exhaustion from the politics of there days, and the latter part of the story you, I hope, will take the time to read. It is a story of God’s little gifts we often take for granted and the sort of loyalty we would love to see from the people in our lives. Will try to get myself back into the writing groove in the coming weeks, but for today, this is the best I can offer.
What words could possibly describe our best friend of 16 years. Maggie was nothing special in the sense that she was a mixture of at least two breeds – Chow and Golden Retriever (we suspect). But the combination made for the most beautiful mixture of colors and texture to her coat and the most lovable of dispositions I have ever experienced. She accepted as well as gave affection to/from anyone she met that had our approval. The only exceptions we ever saw were UPS drivers and mail carriers. For some reason she saw them as intruders upon showing up and that meant almost daily for the years during which we operated our businesses out of our home in Parkersburg, WV.
Back then we immediately installed an underground fence that allowed her to freely roam and run around in most of the 1-acre property and she took advantage of it. She chased deer from the yard regularly as well as an occasional raccoon, neighbor’s dog, or the many squirrels that visited the trees we enjoyed. If she managed to tree a squirrel, she would sit for an exceptionally long time craning her neck to see that it stayed put. Eventually she tired to a point where the captor was able to scurry away without any harm done.
While I worked, she’d be somewhere between the house and the workshop – usually half-way between. That was her pattern when both Mary and I were home. Her loyalty to Mary was a bit stronger than that to me simply because, after losing another beloved pet six months before, Mary was the one that searched the local animal shelter about every week or so looking for a new baby to take care of. When she brought Maggie home (I was not expecting it) Maggie was pretty ordinary looking because her full coat was not yet grown in. I think because Mary rescued her from a different fate, there was a bond there that was unique. Over the years, the difference between the two of us faded a good bit, but Mary was always first with Maggie.
With the space to run and lots to keep her busy, Maggie thrived and grew to be a fifty-pound dog that would chase a stick halfway across the yard but when she reached it, give it a sniff and walk away from it. She never did retrieve anything and despite her breed/bloodline would not enter a body of water deeper than six inches. She simply hated water.
When our first great-grandchild was born, within a couple weeks Maggie was introduced to him and she and Jordan became best of friends. Jordan could use her for a pillow while watching TV and she never complained. When we went camping the two were seldom very, far apart. It remained that way right to the end. Yesterday, we skyped with Jordan so that he could say “hi” to Maggie. Jordan is nine now and did not know that she was close to the end yet. He only knew that she had been sick a good bit recently. Maggie sniffed the tablet screen and looked behind it as if to wonder why she could see Jordan but was unable to see his body anywhere. She even went to the front door when she heard his voice.
When we downsized to a smaller property, she took a while getting used to the confines. I had to bury the underground fence several feet into the adjoining vacant lot (with the owner’s blessing) so that she could have the full limits of a very, small area – about fifty by fifty area. She still guarded her territory well and would not tolerate entry by other dogs, cats, or squirrels. She even had a chance occasionally to bark at a local deer that wandered into the neighborhood to snack on Mary’s Hosta plants in the flower bed.
Up until the past year or so we’d take walks around the neighborhood, but it wasn’t like being free to run like she used to and she was getting a bit slower rising and walking as the arthritis gained a hold on her joints. Then, this summer, she started declining rapidly until the past couple of weeks she needed help with the nightly trek to the second-floor bedroom. She would not think of staying downstairs when one or both of us were headed to bed.
This week, she hit a new low when she had to be half carried up the stairs and showed many signs of being in pain. We decided that it was not fair to her to keep her with us any longer. Surprisingly, to our surprise, when Mary went up to the second floor this morning, Maggie nearly bounded up the first part of the way, but then struggled for the last five stairs above the landing. Again, she had to be near Mary wherever that might be.
It’s hard to see the words on the page when your eyes are full of tears, but writing has always been a way that I find more accurately conveys my thoughts and feelings better than speaking. In any event, we were blessed in this ridiculous time of virus paranoia that our friends at Buckhannon Animal Clinic make an exception for their otherwise closed offices for pet owners taking that final journey with their companions and friends. Everyone there was sensitive to our pain and accommodating in every way and for that we are forever grateful.
When Maggie found her final peace, we departed knowing that we had scheduled to have her picked up for cremation some time that afternoon. As we left the office for our car, we looked up to find another compassionate lady from All Pets Cremation and Funeral Services from Nutter Fort, WV, already parked and waiting to handle the transfer. Their representative was every sort of compassionate and sensitive to the smallest of details.
To some, perhaps all this will be passed off as much to-do for an animal, but there is little doubt that God had a hand in bringing Maggie and Mary together when we both needed a new companion in our lives. There are, after all, no coincidences. All I can say is thank you to God, thank you to Mary, and as much as anything, thank you to Maggie. She made our lives so much richer by simply the movement of her ears and her tail whenever we came together. She will be missed. She was family.