Goodbye to a Good Friend

Post date: Apr 15, 2015 4:33:8 PM

We lost a good friend Monday night. Our old dog, Maggie, passed away at our veterinarian hospital. Maggie was almost 19 years old! which is very good for a dog. But, she was ailing. Jim and I always vowed that we would keep her going as long as she wasn't in pain and was still enjoying her meals and her walks. But a couple days ago she reached the point where we did not want her to suffer any longer - she was hurting, and not eating much, and the veterinarian said it was time, that there was nothing they could do to alleviate her suffering other than to let her go on the Long Journey. Dr. April Bessett and the staff in the emergency service of Atascadero Pet Hospital were great - very gentle and efficient with Maggie, and very patient with us. They let us stay with Maggie throughout, to the very end, which meant a lot to us and I believe meant a lot to Maggie, too.

Maggie came to us through one of my students when I was teaching full time at Cal Poly, about 1997. Joe found her as a very young dog, wandering with no collar on Los Osos Valley Road. He picked her up, named her, but couldn't keep her as he already had a dog and wasn't supposed to have any dogs in his rental. He asked around, and finally asked me if we could take her until he found a permanent home for her. We said yes, and after a couple weeks, decided that indeed Joe had found a permanent home for Maggie.

The photo above was taken in 2006, when Maggie was in her prime, on a rare snowy day on our ranch. You can see from the photo what spirit she has, and how she enjoyed life and new experiences. She loved her walks, loved her meals and biscuits, loved bossing the other dogs around, and loved to ride in the car. She always wanted to chase ground squirrels and rabbits. In the car with Jim, if he saw a squirrel on the road, he's say "There's one!" and Maggie would bark and bark. And she had a very loud bark. She picked up pine cones on her walks - we could never figure out why she wanted them, as usually she didn't chew them - and would carry them for a long time. She would even bring them into the back seat of the car where she would drop them on the floor or seat. We would let the pine cones stay there for a while and finally, when Maggie wasn't looking, we would discreetly toss them out. Maggie loved going to the beach - she would jump right into the ocean (we wouldn't let her if the waves or undertow were too hazardous) and didn't mind at all getting wet and sandy. She would chase sticks we would throw for her until either she or (most likely) we were too tired. Maggie loved playing tug-of-war with a dog toy or rag. One of her favorite games was to grab the other end of a dish towel I was using in the kitchen, as soon as it was in her reach. She would play tug for an hour as long as someone would play with her. Maggie loved to chase balls when someone would throw them - she would bring them back but it was a struggle to get her to drop the ball so you could throw it again - and believe me, you did not want to reach into her jaws to get it. Never mind trying to play badminton or softball if Maggie was around - she invariably would get to the birdie or ball first. We have some friends, Tony and Jill, who have a couple of half-wolf, half dogs (Willow and Mica, they are sisters). Occasionally they brought Willow and Mica to visit. Willow and Mica are huge, far bigger than out dogs. Well, instantly Maggie fell in love with these two wolf-dogs and would follow them around and around the yard. They were very tolerant of their "little friend" and we never worried.

It was a hard thing to do, but Maggie had a good long life. We miss her, and are sure her spirit lives on, chasing spirit-squirrels and spirit-rabbits, bossing around other spirit-dogs, running around in harmony with spirit-wolf packs, and carrying spirit-pine cones.