Just over two weeks ago, my sweet girl, my Maggie, told me it was time for her to cross to the other side. There was nothing more that I could do for her. I had loved her, fed her, played with her, cared for her, and loved her ever more.
Mags was adopted as an older adult dog from Langley Animal Protection Society, after a requisite three visits for us to get to know each other. I think she knew from the very first day that she and I were meant to be together:
|"Will you be my new mama?"
Maggie was a fearful and very timid dog, but soon found many things to enjoy:
Day long hikes at first, then shorter walks as she got older, and then rides in the car to local parks to spend time just sniffing the grass and flowers and the fresh air:
Beaches - oh how she loved sandy beaches! Splashing along the ocean's edge, investigating marine life, trying to chase ducks despite my firm command to leave them alone. Beaches at sunrise and beaches at sunset. Beaches with rocks to climb and beaches with miles of smooth sand. But mostly, beaches with her mama.
Never a fan of people or dogs, she learned to tolerate them and some she even came to like. Her Auntie Pat and the poms who we hiked with in the earlier years, and our neighbour Marilyn who looked after her while I hiked with a friend in more recent times, were among her favourites. And anyone with some treats or a sandwich to share was welcome to share her space after gentle introductions and a lot of sheltie barking. Oh how she could bark!
To many, she seemed like a noisy or serious girl. But with me, she was calm and usually quiet, happy and surprisingly giggly. I swear she knew how to share a good joke.
She loved to be outside - spring, summer, winter, fall. She and I would wander meadows of flowers in spring,
wade along ocean shores in summer or just rest in the shade of a bush or tree,
or dress up warmly to check out the vanilla ice cream that covered the ground in winter.
But our favourite time of year for walks was in the fall - leaves crunching underfoot, beaches empty of people, light rain or weak sun surrounding us. It was the greatest time for photos - a world of sable sheltie colours with a sheltie in the centre of it all.
Maggie became very adept at posing - if I pulled out the camera, she posed. Often she did several poses in a row, like a fashion model on a photoshoot. She even chose her own settings - spotting something that interested her like a field of flowers or a curving piece of driftwood, she wandered over as far as her long leash would take her and sat down, looking at me in a way that clearly said "Get your camera out, mama!"
And then, of course, there was this:
|"Sigh....Seriously, mom? There better be extra treats for this!"
One of the great pleasures of her life was anything to do with training. She was very treat motivated and loved puzzle toys and other food toys that exercised her mind as much as her body.
We did one-on-one and group training with Positive Dog in Nanaimo, and Maggie developed a new passion when our trainer introduced us to canine parkour - using the natural and human-made structures on our walks to traverse the landscape by climbing, jumping, leaping. Two paws up, four paws up, leap, walk the log - all became a major part of our vocabulary on walks no matter where we were - in town, on beaches, in forests or fields.
|One of her favourite parkour activities - a large circle of stumps at Rathtrevor Park, where she leapt from stump to stump to stump all the way around the circle without letting her paws hit the ground.
|She ran the log on the right, then leapt from it to the high stump! Her agility in her 'younger' (around 10 or 11 at this time) years astounded me.
Before long, she needed no command to jump up on a rock or a stump or even an empty urban planter, to walk along a log or a retaining wall or a park bench. Even on one of her very last walks with me, at Moorecroft Park, she startled me when my limpy, slow, old sheltie suddenly half-jumped, half-scrambled up an old rotten stump and laughed at me as she waited for her treat!
|Look at me Mom! Treat please!
But a few weeks ago, we began a roller-coaster ride as her body failed her, with limbs that would not, could not work. Acupuncture helped for awhile, but soon her pain was masked only by medications that left her unable to live a life of quality, of joy, of dignity.
And so, my precious Maggie, I gave to you a final gift - the gift of letting go. I held you in my arms, let my tears fall on your soft fur, whispered how much I loved you, how much I will always love you, and I kissed your sweet, sweet head as your spirit drifted away on a breeze, off to the Rainbow Bridge.
Thank you for the joy you brought to my life, sweet girl. One day, I will see you on the other side. Meanwhile, run with joy, free of pain, in meadows of flowers and along sandy beaches. Jump high on logs and rocks and stony precipices. Find friends, both human and canine and maybe even a cat or two (but no, you still can't chase them - or the ducks - unless they say it's okay!). Bark to your heart's content, and feast on all the treats you want.
And if you will, check in with me now and then, for a part of you stays on in my heart, and a part of my heart has gone with you. I'll love you forever and always.