On August 15, 2000, Hubz brought home a little yellow ball of fur. The little yellow ball of fur was a yellow lab. It was his “childhood dream” to have a yellow lab when he owned his own house and started a family. I was not so set on this “childhood dream”. We had a few nasty fights. He wanted a dog. I did not. However, after a while, I decided he could have his dog…and 2 days later he brought our pet home. She was 8 weeks, exactly. Her birthday was June 15. We named her Maggie. He was a Simpson’s fan, and since one girl in the house was Lisa, the other female in the house became Maggie.
Maggie was tiny. We have a picture of her on the day she came home–and a dandelion was as big as she was. We were fairly sure she was the runt of the litter. One vet even questioned if she was truly a lab (she was). She was a lot of fun. Having never had a pet as a kid, I didn’t realize how quickly they win over one’s heart…and how quickly they become a member of the family. We took her for walks, took her to puppy training, and settled into life as a newlywed couple with a dog.
When Maggie was 9 months old, I was hosting a party. She was so excited to have all sorts of new people come play at the house. She was jumping around, as puppies do. Suddenly, her knee gave out and she yelped. She pulled her hind leg up to her and limped about. We took her to the vet, and it turned out that she had a birth defect. Both knees had issues where they’d slip out of place. It required surgery–$3000 worth of surgery. Hubz said we could put her “down”, if that’s what I wanted…but no. She was my pupster, and we paid the $3000 for her knees. Some scar tissue developed, and she needed a third surgery. Later, I mentioned to Hubz that Maggie was our first foray into special-needs “parenting”. We had to modify her diet to keep her lean, and we had to make some accommodations around the house for her to be comfortable (she had trouble on hard floors, so we had strategically-placed rugs throughout). She was never a walking or running partner, but we kept her active with swimming and running around the yard. We had to give her supplements for her knees and hips from early on.
Maggie has been a phenomenal dog. She listened well, potty-trained early, and chewed very little (aside from a papasan frame and the wire of an unplugged lamp). She was good-natured and very stress-relieving. Later, as we introduced children into our lives, she took them on. She is one of very few pets I know who allowed kids to lay on her, pull her ears and tail, play with her feet, and give her sensory-seeking squishes and hugs. In her later geriatric years, she has allowed Cole to sit on her like a pony. We have, of course, shoo’ed him off of her as quickly as we found him doing this, but still..she just looked at him with an “Oh, please?!”. She’s let us put t-shirts on her, silly hats and headbands on her, has slept in our beds, on our floors, on the couches.
We have so many nicknames for our dog. Her “given” name is Maggie. She’s also answered to Mags, Magpie, Magamoo, Mag-a-loo, Ma-moo, Moo, Moo-er, Moosie, Moolatte, Pooch, Poochie, Pup, Pupster.
Over the past few weeks Maggie has declined rapidly. Her legs are giving out a lot when she’s trying to get outside or when she’s walking. She’s had a few piddle accidents in the house. She can’t jump up onto the couches anymore. She pooped in the house a few times. She stopped eating on Saturday. Yesterday I got a little food in her, but it just came back out. She’s not drinking much. She refuses bread. (Bread is a treat that has caused a Pavlovian response for years…she LOVES bread..will come running when a bag of bread/buns/rolls is opened, in hopes of getting some.) She’s lost weight. She’s losing fur. It’s heartwrenching.
We’ve told the boys that Maggie is very sick. Hubz told Jake and Tate that he’s taking her to the vet, but that she won’t be coming home. Jake asked if she was going to die. Hubz affirmed this. Jake cried, said a prayer for Maggie, and said he was going to miss her. Then he got really serious and asked if we were going to have to ” go to the white house” and put Maggie in a “coffee” like we did for my mom when she died. (He is referencing the funeral home and wake, and the open-casket viewing that took place when my mom died after being “very sick” with cancer. It was very traumatic for him to see the shell of his grandmother, and watch the funeral home staff carry her casket away from the funeral. We did not take the boys to the burial.) Hubz assured Jake that we won’t have a wake, there will be no casket/coffin, and that Jake could give Maggie a hug before the vet visit. Tate has been scripting about Maggie being sick. I know that’s how he’s processing all of this…but he isn’t showing the emotions like Jake is. Cole is really confused. We discussed how Maggie is sick, and won’t come home from the vet. I said she’ll go to doggie heaven. Cole offered to take her to the vet in his lego ambulance. I started to cry. The innocence of that offer is too much.
I need to sign off…I need to go spend a few last hours with the pooch. As much as she drives me crazy lately with all of the extra needs, I am going to miss her so much. I leave you with a few pictures of the pup and the boys…we’ll miss her so.