Maggie came to us 14 years ago, She was just a puppy then. A mix of Yellow Labrador and Wine colored Cocker Spaniel. She was a sweet and loving companion.
When she was little she was curious about the world and tried not to miss an opportunity to go exploring. We fenced our yard to allow her room to roam free, but that wasn’t enough. She searched for places to dig under the fence or ways to climb over the gate. The fence went through several iterations of changes and repairs before we succeeded in preventing her from going out into the wider world.
She adored our family. When our children and grandchildren came to visit she was SO excited. Her tail whipped back and forth with enough energy to knock over one of our plastic lawn chairs. Her affection was returned by all who knew her. The younger children climbed on her and she returned the attention by licking them.
We bought a reclining chair for the living room. It was originally intended to be my chair, but Maggie quickly took possession. It soon became known as Maggie’s chair. We bought a special cover for the chair to keep it free of her fur when she was shedding. Labradors only shed twice a year, once in the spring and Summer, and once in the Fall and Winter. We seemed to always have clumps of her fur accumulating almost everywhere in the house.
In recent years she developed a pair of ailments that curtailed her activity. She was afflicted with arthritis, or something similar, and it became harder for her to run and climb like she did when she was younger. Someone left our gate open and both our dogs escaped to explore the neighborhood. I went to look for them and bring them home. Barkley, the younger and smaller dog, saw me, and came running to greet me. Maggie wanted to do so, too. But she could not manage to run. Barley took the lead and dragged me back to our house. Maggie came limping along behind. She just could not keep up the pace.
Then her kidneys began to fail. This was accompanied by a loss of appetite, and sometimes by vomiting. Our veterinarian provided some medication, and some really good advice. “Give her anything she wants to eat”. We did that. She got mixtures of tinned dog food to go with her dry kibble. This probably extended her life by about 2-3 years. The past year, when that wasn’t good enough, My wife even fed her from the dinner table (something that was taboo when she was younger). One of her favorites from the table was little bits of whole wheat bread. Another was a piece of a matzo ball from the chicken soup we have on most Friday nights.
Our older daughter saw how we spoiled Maggie and once remarked that if she only believed in reincarnation she would want to come back as one of our dogs.
The last two months her kidney problems got worse. She wasn’t eating, and her weight began to seriously drop. she was unable to wait from when my wife took her out in the evening until I got up in the morning to take her out to the yard. We had to mop up pee and poo from under the dining room table several times.
Her tail still wagged when we came home, but she couldn’t run to greet us. The vet said that her kidneys were getting progressively worse. It was also causing her loss of appetite and was beginning to affect other organs. It was time to say goodbye.
Some say that women are more emotional than men. But my eyes were also leaking freely when she left us.
Goodbye, Maggie. We will miss you.