Maggie lived with us for almost twelve and a half years. Mom took most of the care of Maggie. Mom’s do. Maggie would sit patiently at Mom’s desk in the kitchen waiting for her piece of toast at breakfast and to share Mom’s sandwich at lunch. But when I was home ol’ Mag hung with me. She had the patience (or a tin ear) to come into my practice room and listen to my very amateur saxophone practicing and never once complain about the squeaks and squawks. At cocktail time she was pleased to get an ice cube or two from me while I made a drink and then enjoyed helping me eat my cheese and cracker hors d’oeuvres.
Maggie was good looking and very gentle. She was a reverse brindle Boxer dog and, though gentle, was big enough to give pause to anyone who didn’t know her gentleness. Grandchildren could fall on her, poke her and yell at her and she just stood patiently. But, I don’t think it would have been wise for anyone to try to do harm to the kids or any other family member, for that matter.
Oh, she was some bother too. As is the Boxer’s wont, she slobbered a lot. That meant when we were ready to go out without her, an activity which she didn’t much understand – why would we go without her? – she would invariably slime us with her muzzle while pushing to keep us in. Boxer drool on black slacks is unattractive and embarrassing. Then, every so often (like hourly) she would shake her head and the drool would fly around. Thus, cleaning up walls and windows was a constant job. And, like all pets, she needed cared for, taken for walks and/or allowed to roam the backyard to “do her business” which we then had to clean up.
Some older Boxer dogs have a flaw in their genes. A degenerative condition in their nervous system occurs in their later years. It works its way up their spine from the rear. First their rear legs stop working and then they lose control of their bladders and bowels. Maggie had the flaw. She lost control of her left leg first. Then her right leg started to drag a bit. She became incontinent, not always, but more and more frequently. I had to carry her outside as she couldn’t get up and down the steps without banging her rear legs on the landing and sidewalk. Her left foot had started to bleed from being dragged.
So, Monday we made a decision. We decided it was best for Maggie if we ended her travails and put her down. I suppose the last paragraph is an attempt to justify our decision. It was a hard one to make. We stayed with her. She deserved to be with those who cared at the end. The gentle dog went gently.
I know, intellectually it was the humanitarian thing to do. Her life no longer had much quality to it, though she was still coming for the ice and crackers. And she never complained. Ever. She was a good friend.
The pet cemetery just called. We will get her ashes tomorrow. When she was outside she liked to patrol the edge of our property along the bush line that separates us from the marsh, smelling the deer and the raccoons that had passed through during the night. We think that will be a good place for her now – along the patrol route.
We will celebrate her time with us, though, to be honest, breakfast, practicing the saxophone and cocktail time will never be quite the same.