|Me and Cicely circa 1995 when she was a puppy.|
|Jim and Cicely|
Jim and I dated for six years before we were married. I knew once we were married and were living together I wanted to get a puppy. I had never had a dog growing up and I really wanted one. Jim bought me my dog for my wedding present.
I knew I wanted a Labrador, but that's about all I knew. So I did some research online on how to pick out a puppy. The thing I remember is the article said to pick a puppy that wasn't dependant on the the other puppies. Find one that played with all the puppies, wasn't glued to the mom and would play on their own. So, that's why I picked this one.
|Bringing my puppy home from the farm in 2000.|
Well, I thought I was following this article's instructions on how to pick an independent dog, but what I got was just a crazy puppy! She was something else. She would destroy any toy you gave her. Eat holes into them within the first five minutes. And she was so rambunctious. I remember one night she just kept running over our bed, back and forth. Jim finally had to take her out for a walk at like 2 a.m. to get her worn out.
She was so funny.
And she LOVED Cicely so much. It really didn't matter to her that Cicely never really cared for her. She followed her around everywhere and Cicely would get so annoyed.
|The lovely orange plaid couch we got for free when we were first married lol.|
I remember talking to my sister-in-law, Kim, about my dogs once, I may have been pregnant with Jacob at the time, and she was telling me that she had heard that once you have kids your animals stop being your babies, or something like that. It scared me and made me sad to think my relationship with my dogs would change after we had kids. And it did change, but I didn't love them any less, they just didn't get my attention first all the time and they weren't in as many photos :)
Fast forward several years, and we've added Jacob and Gracie to our family and are living in a bigger house. By this time the girls (Maggie and Cicely) are 6 and 11. The kids never thought too much of the dogs, I think it was the ages of everyone involved. The kids had always known the girls, but by the time they were big enough to play with them, Cicely was already getting old and grouchy and Maggie was just too crazy for them.
|Jacob and Cicely. She was never impressed with the kids.|
I wondered if Jim would want to get another dog after Cicely died, but he never brought it up.
So the last few years we've been a one dog family. Maggie calmed down a lot after Cicely died and she was getting older too. She had gotten fat and stinky. Man, she had the worst breath ever. It was awful. She spent most of her time sleeping and laying next to us on the couch.
This past fall we took her camping with us and she had a blast. That's how I remember her now when I think about her.
|Maggie and Grandpa camping last fall.|
The last camping trip of the season was the last time Maggie would go camping with us. It's called Halloweekend, were all the campers decorate their campsites for Halloween. We look forward to it every year and Maggie was happy to come along with us this year.
|Jim put some white face paint on Maggie so she could be dressed up like a skunk during Trick-or-Treating|
We had our last Christmas with her. We have Jim's huge family over for Christmas Eve and we always put Maggie in our bedroom so she wouldn't eat off everyone's plate. But Jim said that day that we were going to let Maggie enjoy the party with us. We both knew it would be the last time.
Over the next few weeks I lost my Maggie. She was still with us but she was gone. She was so sad and weak and unhappy. I kept talking to Jim about putting her down, but he wasn't ready yet. It finally came to the point that she couldn't walk down the one little step outside to go to the bathroom and we had to hold her up while she did her business.
In February, Jim made an appointment to put her to sleep. I had four days to say goodbye to her. I was sad, but I knew it was for the best. The plan was I would say my goodbyes to her on Thursday morning and Jim would take her in that afternoon. I kissed her a million times and studied her face and her gray whiskers and her big brown eyes. On Thursday morning I laid on the kitchen floor with her, cried and said goodbye.
Most of my co-workers knew what I was going through that week. I'm so grateful to one co-worker because she told me how she was with her dog when she put him to sleep and how she knew it was the right thing for her to be there with him.
At that moment I knew I was making a mistake. I had to be with Maggie when she died. She was my dog. My baby. I owed her that much.
I can't write about putting her to sleep. It's too painful. But I know I made the right choice being with her. I was the last thing she saw before she fell asleep for the last time.
And then I lost it. I cried for three days. I had no idea I would take it so hard. I realize now that not only did I have to deal with her death, but I was also dealing with the fact that she had been gone for three months while she was sick.
I was so sad. It was so hard to come home to an empty house. To not have my Maggie waiting for me at the door, to not walk to the back door to let her out. I would turn corners and think I would see her laying in her favorite spot. I would walk over her in the middle of the night when I would go to the restroom, not realizing she wasn't there.
But this is what got me through it. One of my friends, Leslie, sent me the poem Rainbow Bridge. Whenever the tears would come and not stop, I would lay in my bed, close my eyes and ask Maggie to come to me. I would imagine her in the green field running up to me with Cicely behind her. They were both young and fit and happy. Maggie would be so happy to see me, but I would imagine her being sad for me and then I would know that it's ok to let her go. I imagine telling her "Go Play!" and she would run off with Cicely to go and play. It always made me feel better.
|My first day with Maggie.|
And day-by-day it got easier. I stopped expecting to see her at the back door. I stopped imagining her in her favorite napping places. And time went on, but I still felt some emptiness.
Jim made it clear the last couple of years that he was not interested in getting another dog and so I never brought it up. Gracie asked. She had asked Santa for a puppy. She had talked about getting another dog after Maggie died, but we just told her we weren't getting another dog.
Then one day I was talking to Jim about his day and he told me he had seen a baby bulldog at a client meeting he had. I could tell immediately he was in love. Turns out one of his co-workers is involved with Indiana Bulldog Rescue and she had adopted a bulldog herself.
Jim would tell me something every day that his co-worker had told me about the rescue and bulldogs and I noticed he started looking at the adoption page.
It was around this time that I had had an awesome workout at Zumba class and I actually had the kids with me (they usually stay home with Jim, but he had a meeting that night). We were walking out of the Y and it was getting ready to start raining, so we ran for the car as the drops started falling fast. The kids and I were laughing about it and were on our way to pick up some dinner when Jacob said "I see a rainbow!" I looked out Gracie's side of the van and didn't see anything. Jacob said "no Mommy, it's on our side" and I looked out my window and saw this.
We drove towards Taco Bell and I saw the most amazing thing ever. The main rainbow kept getting brighter and brighter and it was a full rainbow. We could see both ends of it and it went from one end of the huge shopping mall to the other. It was one of the coolest things that I had ever seen and I was so excited that I got to experience it with Jacob and Gracie.
I don't know if this was the same day, but I'm going to pretend it was, but that night Jim showed me this photo.
And I also like to think that Maggie sent me that rainbow. It was so beautiful, just like her and it made me so happy, just like she always did. And the Rainbow Bridge poem brought me so much comfort that it just makes me believe that all of this happened for a reason and not randomly. Jim had no interest in getting another dog and I watched him fall in love with this dog by looking at the photos of him online. They are a perfect match.
I know I've painted a sugar-coated, rainbow ending here, but I have to be honest, for every time my heart melts when Tanner falls asleep on me like this:
There are also equal times that he is biting the crap out of my arm. It's been 10 years since we've had a puppy and it's been quite an awakening. All in all, I love the little guy and he completes our family.
I never anticipated this post being this long. I guess I had a lot to say. Thank you for reading if you made it this far.