Love Expands

mexico

I lost my beloved Brittany Spaniel companion, Maggie Mae late in 2016. She died relatively peacefully at age thirteen. She was a very important part of our little family and we loved her very much.

Not long after our loss, my daughter and I went on a trip to Mexico to visit my mother and step-dad. They live on a rural property with a large menagerie of animals: dog, cats, birds, horses and a donkey. We were surrounded throughout our stay by their gentle love and quiet companionship.

The highlight for us both was falling in love with a large, loping black dog named Guardián. We spent hours snuggling him and giving belly rubs. We laughed at his silly antics and enjoyed having him follow us around the property: trying to climb into hammock with us each afternoon. Guardián reminded us of the special, devoted love that a dog offers a family, and so the idea was born for us to start looking for a new companion.

I always knew that I wanted to adopt a dog this time around. There are so many animals in the world without a home; and I liked the idea of opening up ours to one. But how to choose? And where to start? There are many wonderful not-for-profit organizations that save animals domestically and bring animals into Canada from international locations.

It turns out that British Columbians like to adopt dogs. I discovered a frenetic, quick paced world where animals are posted online and adopted almost before you can respond. There is  little time for thought or consideration; and no opportunity to meet them before they join your home forever. This is not an easy fit for a slow and considered thinker like myself. I wanted to bring the right dog into our family, not the first available dog. After many frustrating and unsuccessful attempts to make the right connection, I eventually resolved to take a break from my search.

And, as so often happens, this was exactly the moment when things came together: precisely when I stopped trying to direct the situation. In the beautiful and synchronistic way that the universe often unfolds, my younger sister arrived home that weekend with a dog she had just picked up to foster for a Vancouver organization called Big and Small Rescue. This agency transports dogs up from a high-kill shelter in Los Angeles: where animals get three days before they are euthanized.

Lucky is not at all what I expected but just what we needed. He is a little, fifteen pound bundle of fluff and sass. Sweet, smart and cuddly. A gentle, kind and loving little fellow. He arrived into town covered in matts, dirt, urine and feces. His hair had grown so far down into his face that he could see very little, and he lacked depth perception for the first few weeks, after we trimmed it.

After a good hair cut and some TLC from our local vet (clearing up an ear infection and some muscle tension in his back end from being crated for exceptionally long periods of time in his last home), he is good as new. And what a wonderful little companion he has become for our family. My daughter considers him to be her own special pet and he has settled into our home like he never lived anywhere else.

LuckyBoy

The resiliency of this little fellow is quite astonishing; and his ability to connect with and love us, despite his difficult start in life, speaks to the uncanny ability of these little creatures to survive and adapt. And for me, it has been amazing to experience the expanding of our hearts to make room for this little fellow. He does not take the place of our Maggie Mae but he now joins her at our family’s heart centre.

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Maggie Mae

maggieme

My beautiful friend, Maggie Mae, died on Thursday. She was a thirty pound, liver and white Brittany spaniel. I called her my “fur baby”; and she would have celebrated her thirteenth birthday on January 1st, 2017.

This little soul arrived in my life not long after I was first married: full of dreams, playing house, and feathering my nest. When that soft little puppy bounded into our home, I had my first taste of sleepless nights, random peeing and general loss of personal freedom. I also experienced a new kind of endless devotion, love and joy: all wrapped in one wiggling package. All of this genuinely helped to prepare me for the arrival of my “human baby” seven years later.

Maggie loved to go on adventure walks with me, until this August, when her little body could no longer carry her up the mountain. Her nose was amazing and she experienced the world through her incredible sense of smell. She was fascinated with birds and she loved to swim: especially in the lake and ocean. I often thought she was going to drown, as she relentlessly chased after a duck or a seagull. She considered herself to be an adept fisher-woman, spending hours pacing the water’s edge, certain she was about to catch the big one.

She welcomed me every day with a happy squeak, a smile and a vibrating tail. Smile! Who knew a dog could smile? I didn’t – until Maggie. Her right lip would lift up, exposing a lopsided toothy grin. It was an expression of pure joy and it was beautiful.

Maggie followed close beside me throughout the house as I folded laundry, tidied toys, and loaded the dishwasher. She stuck close to my heels, tags jingling, always ready to help clean up fallen crusts or crumbs. And when we finished our evening chores, she would happily put herself to bed: curling up into a warm ball close against my legs.

Maggie comforted me when I cried. She never let me down and she was the most loyal friend that I have ever had.  She loved me unconditionally, as I did her. I will deeply miss her and she will always live on in my heart.