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In Memoriam Maggie

Maggie in the kitchen counter-surfing.

One hour north of Toronto in Belfountain, Ontario, the Kitehawk Kennel rested in the middle of green rolling hills with many black furry Kerry Blue puppies racing around a million miles an hour. I was there to pick up one, a female of nine weeks old. The breeder Maria was reluctant to let me adopt this puppy at this time because she was under 10 weeks old. She wanted me to wait a few weeks and come back. Being from Montreal I was not prepared to do this. My persuasive powers worked and a few minutes later we were on our way to the 401 East.

I named her Maggie. She was rambunctious, fast and devilish. I already had another dog, a two year old male, Murphy of the same breed. They got along from the ‘get-go’ and my life suddenly became wild as I combined my nursing career with raising dogs.

Maggie accomplished all the usual puppy tricks, emptying baskets, dragging the toilet paper all over the house and chasing squirrels around the park until she either passed out from fatigue or caught one in her mouth and you know what happens next. All puppy stuff of course. After a couple of months of this I decided to present her to society and we went to Ottawa to visit a friend. My friend was putting on a dinner party for a few couples and to my glee everyone was laughing at and admiring this beautiful and playful happy puppy. Until mealtime. As is his habit Mike was serving the meals onto the plates from the kitchen and then placing them on the dining room table. Delicious lamb chops were on the menu that night and Mike served while we all sat around chatting and catching up on each other’s news. While he was placing the second dish of chops and veggies on the table he noticed that the first plate had no chops on them. How could that be? He had just put it down seconds earlier. Yes, he had indeed and while he was back in the kitchen my puppy had jumped up onto a chair and stole someone’s chops with no one noticing! I nervously looked around for her. She was nowhere in sight, until I almost fell over her in a bedroom chewing fast and furiously and looking up at me with those big brown eyes, a look which always melted my heart. I guess this is what they mean by unconditional love. Dogs love YOU no matter what…and you love THEM no matter what. Love or no love I soon realized that Maggie required more consistent training than I had been giving her. Realization and action are two different things. I opted for the realization.

In case you are wondering I did engage a dog trainer for Maggie. She learned all the basics quickly…come…sit…etc…. I must admit though that I always had this weird feeling with her that she was performing well just so she could get it over with and move onto her next deviant act. She had already learned how to counter surf, a fined tuned manoeuvre whereby the dog reaches up to the kitchen counter with the head over and moves her body along while sniffing and grabbing any bits of food. I let her get away with this. It did not bother me. Some dog owners spray foul stuff in hot spots to prevent the dog from chewing or whatever. Not me. Go for it!

As the months went by people, including my mother who was raised with dogs, advised me politely that I had better ‘do something’ with Maggie as in train her! Yes, yes I said. I am. My problem of course was that I absolutely fell in love with this dog and delighted in her antics and deviant behaviour. You see, I am a bit of a deviant at heart myself. I have pulled off a few good ones in my time. It was near impossible for me to train this self- willed, sneaky and smart dog.

Murphy, Maggie and I fell into a routine and I became accustomed to Maggie’s ‘ways’. I did not seem to mind that she was often one step ahead of me. Cute I thought. Until one day when cute turned into WOW… did that happen? During the dogs’ mealtime Maggie would always finish first. She was a pig and a glutton. Murphy enjoyed his food eating each morsel as if it were his last. Twenty minutes was his average time to spend over the food bowl. Not Maggie. She was a vacuum. Gone in less than ten seconds. So what did a hungry girl do with herself while her man was eating? I answered that question one day when Maggie was standing inside the front door and barking her head off while looking up at the door. Murphy and I rushed to the door thinking that someone was there. We looked and listened. Nothing. Meanwhile a bell goes off in my head…ding-dong. I slowly walk back into the kitchen where Maggie is finishing off Murphy’s dinner. Apparently as soon as we arrived at the front door after her ‘warning’, my scamp turned around and high tailed it back to Murphy’s food bowl. At that moment I knew that I was in trouble. Maggie had learned the art of manipulation.

I never did step up the training program. We were o.k. We travelled to many interesting places and hiked in many parts of Quebec, Ontario, Vermont and Newfoundland. I loved both my dogs. Murphy was a lover boy who would wrap his legs around your neck and kiss you from side to side to side. Maggie was a scamp while at the same time free with giving kisses on your nose when she was in the mood. She was indomitable and incorrigible. I fell in love with her at nine weeks old and it continued that way. She was a scamp and I loved her for it. We were a perfect match.

As the years wore on Maggie was tough. She was 14 years old and had Cushing’s Disease for the last couple of years. Ten days ago I woke up and looked at her, she looked at me and I knew. The effects of the disease had begun to take its toll. I would not allow my girl to hit rock bottom so on Saturday February 11th. Maggie went to doggy heaven where she is now with her man Murphy.
You are never alone. In times of joy, in times of grief or in times of quietude, your dog is always there and all is right with the world.
Catherine Kierans


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Today is October 21, 2019

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