January 30, 2006


I mentioned in my last comments section that my dad had a dog that we all adored unstintingly - even though she was sometimes made it a bit difficult.

Maggie was brilliant in every way. She was very competitive, and would drive herself into the ground rather than be outrun, outhunted, outplayed or outwitted by anyone else, dog or human. She flew over the ground, was a 'spy-hopper', had a wonderful nose, was a champion jumper, was always Alpha of any dog group, won praise and admiration of everyone she came in contact with. She invented and played elaborate games with specific and definite rules; the best was the soccer game that she regularly played with the Vampire, with each of them having a 'goal' at opposite ends of the yard... she could steal the ball and 'dribble' it across the yard with the end of her nose quicker than the Vampire could ever move. They both enjoyed this game tremendously, and played it any time they were together and the weather allowed.

Maggie loved to dress up in costume (her favorite was the pink satin ballerina/princess outfit she had for Halloween). We celebrated her birthday on the same day as the Vampire's. He would sit on a chair at one end of the table with his birthday cake and candles, and she would sit on a chair at the other end with her decorated (liverwurst) birthday cake and candle, and she would patiently wait until the Happy Birthday song was sung and the candle was blown out before she ate her 'cake'.
She always seemed to feel that she was only in a 'dog suit', and that any day she would unzip a hidden zipper and step out... no doubt she would have been a Princess.

She was also stubborn, contrary, and an inveterate sneak thief. She would not only find and open a bag or container in order to get at a desired object or food item... she would carefully close the bag or container afterwards in order to conceal the evidence. Her favorite game at parties was to leap past someone who was holding an appetizer or bit of food and without turning her head towards them, snake her tongue out the side of her mouth as she passed and snag the food as she flew by.

I am allergic to dogs, and so when I pet my dad's dog I have to wash my hands immediately afterwards. Maggie figured this out and made it a game to find a way to sneak up on me whenever I came to the house and lick my hand on the sly. She only ever did it once per visit, and she never did it in a direct way. For her the point of the game was to be as devious about it as possible, so that I would be surprised when she 'got' me.

When Maggie got older and began to suffer from arthritic symptoms, my dad started giving her Glucosamine/Chondroitin supplements, which did significantly ease her pain. These supplements were individually wrapped and sealed in a similar way to Starburst Fruit Chews, and were quite challenging to open.
They also tasted somewhat like fruit chews, which she uncharacteristically objected to - so dad got into the habit of bribing her to eat them by giving her a favorite dog biscuit afterwards, as a reward. One day he laid out her biscuit and her supplement, intending to call Maggie in for her daily dose. At that point the phone rang; distracted by the demands of business, he wandered off, leaving both supplement and treat sitting alone and forlorn on the counter. Much later he returned, to find that both biscuit and supplement had disappeared. Since Maggie had a long history of pilfering and then hiding the evidence of her misdeeds, dad turned about to call the miscreant to justice... only to see a supplement wrapper, neatly laid out flat and empty in the center of the dining room floor. For once, Maggie had played by the rules. She had earned that biscuit, fair and most definitely square!

On Maggie's last day, an hour before she was to be put down, the Vampire and I went to the bakery to buy her favorite pastry, a poppyseed kolache. The Vampire took her out to the back yard, the scene of so many exuberant games of soccer and tag and frisbee, and he casually stood with his back to her, holding the kolache at a level with her head, so that she wouldn't have to jump in order to 'steal' it from behind. She no longer could run or leap to snatch her treasure, but he wanted her to still feel the triumph and joy of having pilfered the Illicit Treat.

It's nearly four years since Maggie left us, and rarely does a week go by without one of us reminiscing about some little trick or foible of hers. Some spirits just shine in a special way...

Maggie, we won't forget.


Blogger mrspao said...

I'm wiping a little tear of joy and sadness away as I type this. Maggie sounded like a special dog, a real one of a kind and very clever to boot.

1:48 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

There's got to be a special place in heaven for dogs like her...

8:18 AM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

Wonderful story. I never had a dog until last year and I could never really identify with dog-lovers...until now.

12:38 PM  
Blogger mama_tulip said...

*sniff, sniff*

We always had a dog growing up...and we always had dogs with such colourful personalities. Maggie kind of sounds like an Old English Sheepdog that we had for my entire childhood, Holly. God, I loved that dog. I still dream of her...she was awesome.

Thanks for sharing Maggie with us.

4:13 PM  
Blogger mE said...

Thanks, you guys. I cried a bit, writing that, and the Pirate sniffled a bit reading it. It feels a bit odd to still be all pitiful about it four years later, but she really was a special friend...


8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A fantastic portrait of a dog that was surely a person.
I will print this out and mail it to my mom, who will love it as much as everyone else did!
Thank you for an excellent Herriot-like piece!

2:16 PM  

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