About this time back in late 2005, Wendy and I were out for a drive and she wanted to go look at the SPCA at puppies. We had just put down Elway the Halloween before because of liver cancer and I was missing having a dog around the house.
We went in looking for puppies and came out with a full sized, rambunctious and rowdy Weimeraner/Retriever cross that had been badly abused. In the interview room Maggi physically wounded Wendy by jumping all around while Wendy actually said with a straight face that she thought this massive dog would be a good lap dog.
The scene in that interview room at the SPCA reminded me of when two Loonie Toon characters are locked in a room and fighting. It was hilarious and Maggi came out on top. Then in the line to adopt Maggi, the dog somehow wrestled Wendy to the floor and I remember looking down at Wendy who was flat on her back in the lobby of the SPCA and thinking that this isn’t going to end well.
We took her home and she was confounded by the stairs. She had never been in a house before. If you touched her, she would get so excited, she would run off to another part of the house. If she saw your open hand, she would lay down and cry because she was sure I would hit her.
Slowly she became my dog. I remember the first time she jumped up on the bed and slept there. It was a big deal that she trusted me to be that close. Eventually she realized that no one was going to hit her, stairs could be mastered, and a queen sized bed was just about the perfect size for her to lay on. Over time she also realized that scaring the pizza delivery guy wasn’t helping her get leftover pizza and chilled out even with strangers.
We went on countless walks to the park and she was never happier than when she had her frisbee. She ate with the frisbee, slept with the frisbee, went to the bathroom carrying the frisbee, and carried the slimy frisbee to bed.
She loved to fetch and would do anything to get a frisbee. She hurdled a merry-go-round once to come up with an errant toss. She jumped the front of Lee’s car to get another one. One time two Saskatoon Police Officers stopped just to watch her come down with frisbee after frisbee. After some tosses, their black police uniforms had blonde dog hair all over them. They didn’t seem to care.
The one thing that would drive her crazy was fetching snowballs in the yard. She would tear up all of the snow looking for a ball made of snow.
She would never give up and eventually would bring back any snow as a way to save face. Of course I would make another snowball and toss it out there and it would start all over again.
Maggi was always a bull in a china shop and we were worried when we brought Oliver home that she would be too aggressive with him who was still two months premature. I’ll always remember that dog walking extremely slowly across the floor and giving Oliver a little lick before laying down right beside him. For whatever reason Maggi thought of Oliver as her puppy and was forever overly protective of him. When he napped, she slept outside his room. When he played, she always was near.
Maggi was smart and devious. She never really accepted sharing a bed with Wendy and was always trying to kick her off. She would lay beside us and punch Wendy in the head. She would actually uncover Wendy at night while making a nest for herself. She would also try to push Wendy’s legs out of the bed. She may have accepted me as the alpha male but she never ever respected Wendy as the alpha female of the pack.
She liked Wendy and even loved her but never really respected Wendy. Many times Wendy would get mad at Maggi and she would walk over to me and look back at Wendy with a look of “do something about her.” That always went over well.
This fall she developed a lump on her leg. We had it tested and it wasn’t cancerous but a fat deposit. We dealt with that but there was the danger that it could return as cancerous. In December it did and she started to struggle breathing and walking. This week I realized she was in an incredible amount of pain. The lump grew daily and we took her to the vet who told us that it was not only cancerous but had spread to her lungs. There wasn’t any choice and today we took her to the clinic and I held her as they put her down.
I will endure a few weeks of the occasional dark thought, and I will think: ‘Pretty good trade, 159 months of companionship and friendship and unconditional love for one or three months when sadness creeps in. In fact, that’s a fantastic trade.’ I feel the same as when Woody died: The easiest way to not feel this grief is to never have a dog. And what an empty life that would be.
It was a good trade for my family as well.