“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
In Alcoholics Anonymous they say, “Shit happens” . . . especially when you least expect it and want it. This morning, around 10AM, our Boxer—Maddie Rose—suffered a seizure and died. Our son, number 2, who has Epilepsy witnessed it all and tried in vain to help her . . . but to no avail. I got the tearful phone call at work around 10:30AM . . . he couldn’t get a response out of her . . . through his tears he thought she was dead. I was floored as I left the conference call I was in, attempting to console him and tell him that everything was okay . . . all the while I could feel the shards of my broken heart falling . . . falling. I could feel the tears swelling up in my eyes . . .
Needless to say, I did not make it through the conference call. I excused myself and went home . . . it was the longest forty minute commute I have ever experienced. I fought my tears all the way home in hopes that Maddie Rose would be okay, all the while knowing that she was dead. Isn’t that what we do? Hope for the best when we know that the worse has already happened . . . I don’t do well with a broken heart . . . who does?
Maddie Rose entered my life over nine years ago as a itty bitty puppy. She was the 11th of 12 puppies, and she became the caboose when #12 died. She was the runt of the litter who was lovingly nursed to health by my friend. She was presented to me while I was in the hospital recovering from my very first hernia surgery—in which I caught pneumonia and ended up spending a week in the hospital. She was brought to me to cheer me up. It was love at first sight. From then on she became my constant companion . . . for years, everywhere I went, she went. Always by my side.
Hours later, as I write this, she is gone . . . she has died. Like everyone who loses a loved one to death, I have gone through all of the feelings and emotions. This morning was one of those rare mornings when I did not have the opportunity to have my “Maddie time” as I was leaving early—3:30AM early—to take the oldest son to the airport. I did not get the chance to say hello—or even goodbye—to Maddie before I left . . . a daily ritual we always shared when I was preparing to leave. I am angry about that . . . but, the angry only shadows the sadness and grief I am really feeling. Yeah, I have been through them all . . . sadness, anger, guilt, loneliness . . . I don’t think I have missed any of them . . . they were, and are, at the party. None of it replaces Maddie’s presence in my life . . . I miss my dog.
Maddie Rose was the best dog I have ever had. She was faithful . . . caring . . . gentle . . . she was a lover. They say that Boxers are the world’s biggest lap dogs, and Maddie sure loved the lap. She always had to be touching . . . reminding you that she was there. She was the world’s best greeter—didn’t matter if you had been gone for a year or ten minutes, she was always there, leaning against you, wagging that stub of a tail, licking your face—the Boxer dance of joy. God, I loved being greeted with such enthusiasm. She made me feel as if I was someone important when no one else seemed to care.
She was gentle . . . and, she was an introvert. She was a shy dog that took her time sizing up people before she welcomed them into her world, but once she did . . . watch out! She was your best friend, and she had lots of best friends. She was quiet . . . she rarely barked, but when she did . . . you had better listen. People were always surprised when she barked because she had such a deep voice. Her bark was way worse than her bite . . . she never bit anyone or anything . . . she was a lover, not a fighter.
This probably sounds like a lot of rambling around, but isn’t that what we do when we lose someone or something that we love to the core of our being . . . we ramble. All I know is that I lost a being that was dear to my heart . . . a companion who shared my life with me . . . who cared about me . . . who loved me . . . and I love her equally as well . . . and, now she is gone. Like a flash of lightening . . . she has disappeared into the darkness. Who would have thought that over nine years ago that the two of us would have crossed a line, jumped into a world of life’s endless possibilities for wonder and joy and surprise of what we would experience together. She had me from that very first moment when she leaped up those hospital covers, shoved her face into mine, and gave me that great big puppy kiss. I was hers and she was mine.
Carolyn Parkhurst writes: “The conclusion I have reached is that, above all, dogs are witnesses. They are allowed access to our most private moments. They are there when we think we are alone. Think of what they could tell us. They sit on the laps of presidents. They see acts of love and violence, quarrels and feuds, and the secret play of children. If they could tell us everything they have seen, all of the gaps of our lives would stitch themselves together.”
The stitch has been broken . . . I miss my dog. I will dream of her and gentle, sloppy dog kisses. Maddie Rose will be missed . . . by me, by the family, and by the countless people whose lives she has touched. She was a gift . . . a blessing . . . and, we just do not get enough of those in our lives. I wish I could stitch it all back together again . . .