Dogs have tails, cold wet noses, and tongues that attack your ears and cheeks. These are the things they use to worm their way into your heart.
Maggie, a pure breed Black Lab, was a puppy rescue. She came from a frustrated couple who would no longer accept another piece of furniture destroyed or her charging over to a neighbor’s house to play with their dogs, even though she was not wanted by either the neighbor or their dogs.
She was a stout and imposing figure even though she was only six months old. My daughter had previously had a Black Lab that she was not able to keep. But now she was in a more settled lifestyle, and she could certainly have the joy of a new friendship with this special dog. Besides, her toddler son (an only child) needed a companion. And just like that a new home was found for this lovable, playful little puppy.
My grandson named the dog Maggie, and their friendship was starting to form. Unfortunately, Maggie’s habits had not changed enough to find her a forever home Her chewing continued and the expense of her damage at my daughter’s house exceeded what her previous owners had experienced.
And that’s how Maggie came to live with me 14 years ago.
She got along with my other dogs as long as they knew she was boss. She turned out to be quite an athlete. Maggie could jump a 5-foot fence from a complete stand still. Once on the other side, she did not wonder off. I guess she just had to know what was on the other side!
As a bird hunter, she had a keen nose and worked hard to find a hidden bird. Her pursuit of downed prey was relentless despite the fact that I missed the shot more often than desired. It was breathtaking to watch her work the field with her companion, a German Shorthair Pointer. He would point the location of the bird, and Maggie would flush and retrieve the quarry. What a beautiful sight!
On any hunt, she would not allow any other dog to retrieve any birds. She wanted all the attention and reward for a job well done. She sure was a glory hog!
That all seems like a lifetime ago. What a change the years have made in Maggie. Now gray and overweight she could not even hop onto the floorboard of my truck to go for a ride.
And now the time has come in this story that I have to let you know that last Monday Maggie went to the happy hunting ground where she can chase birds like the puppy she once was.
Maggie has left us with a legacy of mostly fond memories for the time she spent in our home. Her tail never stopped wagging when we came out to see her. She delighted in ambushing my nose with her tongue when my face got too close to her head. I can still remember the twinkle in her eye when she knew she had gotten me with that sloppy wet tongue!
Funny, nothing prepares you for the end of a pet’s life. It always seems so sudden, even when the signs are visible that the end may soon come.
So this is my tribute to Maggie, a dog that brought as much joy as she did frustration into our lives. Thanks for the fond memories you left behind, Maggie. We will miss your quirky personality. Good-bye dear friend.
Note: Those who have owned and lost a pet for any reason understand the grief that follows. The Grief & Wellness Group realizes that your loss is significant. We’re here to help.
Bob Rill, Chaplain
Certified Grief Recovery Specialist
The Grief & Wellness Group, Inc.