Kelly's Dog Blog — Maggie — Part 2

Loss and Longevity

July 24, 2019
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The French doors of our upstairs balcony stayed open a lot over the weekend. While sitting out front with Griffin, Homer, and Curly, I was able to leave the front door open so I could hear the stereo inside. Both of these things hardly ever occurred when we had Maggie; guns a’blazin’ anytime she would step outdoors — whether upstairs or downstairs, even when on her walks — she would immediately start barking at anyone she encountered. Schnauzers can be loud, and she was no exception. We were constantly having to shush her and/or order her back inside the house. 

When meal and snack times rolled around, Maggie was just as raucous. She would practically order you into the kitchen with barks and squeals, then more commotion would ensue as she waited her turn. 

I never imagined how much I would miss that noise. Maggie passed away a week ago, and our house has never been quieter. 

Related: Maggie

We got Maggie as a puppy in November 2008. Ten days later we brought home another puppy, Boston Terrier Olive. I named them after my grandmothers. We thought they would be lifelong playmates, but they soon proved us wrong; it turns out they were more like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, much to our amusement. 

We also thought when we got them that they would each be with us for 14-16 years, like most of our other dogs; again, proving us wrong, much to our disappointment and heartbreak. Both Maggie and Olive would live closer to only 2/3rds of that time. We didn't know that heart disease would take Olive at ten, and that a stroke and some unknown blockage would take Maggie exactly six months later.

As my husband Chuck stood in the exam room at VCA Emergency Animal Hospital last week, Maggie’s lifeless body on the table, he tearfully shouted at her, “Damn you, Maggie! You were supposed to live to be 14, 15, 16 years old!” Amid sobs, he stroked her coat and lovingly scolded her. 

Had we known when we brought those puppies home in 2008 that we would only have them each for a little over ten years, would we do it again? Of course. Ten years is still a good run; plenty of time for love and laughter, cuddling and play, plenty of food and nurturing. Maggie and Olive got a chance to experience our older dogs, Trudy and Wrigley, then welcome in new dog Griffin. They had the experience of saying goodbye to Trudy and Wrigley, then welcoming Homer and Curly. Even though Maggie and Olive didn’t play much together, they interacted well with the others, and they were never lonely.

We never know how long our pets will be with us. When acquiring new pets, we imagine they’ll be with us until they’re old and gray. When adopting an older dog, we still hope to have them well into their senior years, but we realize going in that the time we have with them is more limited. 

We love and protect our pets as best we can, but even then, tragedy can strike at any age; they can get loose, and we all know that cars and coyotes rarely discriminate. We had a close call with Homer about a month ago where his harness slipped off while Chuck was walking him. After a 15-minute agonizing chase (the Italian Greyhound in Homer’s Wisdom Panel DNA results predominant), Chuck was able to corral him back home. 4-year-old Homer could have easily been struck by a car, or escape down into the canyon where aggressive wildlife resides. There are plenty of heartbroken pet owners whose pets weren’t as lucky.

Quality over quantity should be the key element when adopting a pet, no matter what phase they are in their lives. Giving them the very best we can is all any pet can hope for. 

As Chuck and I adjust to having one less dog, we have no choice but to press forward and shower Griffin, Homer and Curly — my boys — with all the love and care we possibly can, and cherish the time we have with them — because you just never know. And when reminders of Maggie cause tears to well up in our eyes, we have to remind ourselves not only of how very well she had it for almost eleven years, but how fortunate we were to have her all that time.