Maggie, whose birth name is a mystery, grew up in eastern Colorado at a puppy mill where she was impregnated several times before the age of six. Her original owners scared the bark out of her and apparently beat her with some consistency.
She was found severely underweight and without her canine teeth, and was transported to Safe Harbor Lab Rescue, which paid for surgery for cancer of the mammary glands. When Jody saw her face on a social media site, she worked on Bill to at least drive down to the foster home and take a look. “OK, but I’m not going to be railroaded into adopting a dog,” Bill said. “We don’t need a dog.”
Her foster home name was Ivy, but she looked like a Maggie, so that she was dubbed when we brought her home three years ago. First morning, she tried running away back to the foster home. And for three or four days, every time she got loose, she ran away from us. It wasn’t long, though, before she was escaping the house to try to find us. Her first stop was always the dog park, and we got many calls from there to come and pick her up. By then, we were both smitten, and the bond just grew deeper.
Early on, Maggie would shy away when we leaned in, afraid she was going to be beaten. She seemed eternally grateful and surprised that we never laid a rough hand on her — not when she stole a half of a pizza off the counter, not when she made two round trips from the coffee table to the basement with two huge chunks of cheese meant for a Thanksgiving appetizer.
Maggie was the reason that Bill always had to cut his bike ride short — leave the group after a quick cup of coffee so he could get back and walk the dog. (She never would poop in the back yard; we think she loved the walks and the companionship too much.) Now that she is gone, all those reasons to have to come back home every day, two or three times a day, seem like a precious gift.
She was a gentle soul and her middle name was NOT TROUBLE. Oh, to see her chased down the street by a pair of yapping tiny dogs or, in one case, a cat. She chose her own path to the dog park, carefully zigzagging across the street to avoid any yard with a barking dog.
At the dog park, she would coax us to the pond and then with a tennis ball flying, she would shed years off her age, launch herself off the bank, and swim like a puppy. Walking back, with a tennis ball sticking out the front of her mouth, she would be the center of attention. “Oh, look at the happy girl. Oh, you have a ball.”
She was the star of the water sports. At one Doggy-Days fest at a city pool, someone asked, “Is that your dog? That is the happiest dog I’ve ever seen.”
Her tail would wag fast and ferociously when she discovered the smells of a new trail. Winter brought new joys, snow rolls to replace grass rolls. Bounding after tennis balls, catching them and then continuing to run just for the joy of it — that’s what we will remember. Also the quiet moments, Maggie’s head in daddy’s or Mommy’s lap on the basement couch, binge-watching TV shows, hour after hour.
A week before she died, she was still chasing tennis balls, albeit getting tired a little faster. Alas, cancer had spread to her liver, lungs and brain, and she went downhill fast. She tried so hard to compensate, using her one good eye to maneuver around things, painfully slowly. We couldn’t watch her suffer. We were there with her when a very kind vet, Dr. Michael Moran, came to the house and administered the drugs. If only humans could be as humane to each other as they are to dogs when the end is near.
Now, our hearts are broken, but they will heal. Maggie, you filled our lives with joy and will be with us forever.