Thursday, October 29, 2009

Maggie: Coming Home---a Prologue

"...How can I make you know her the way we did?  She was a simple creature, yet I am afraid I won't do her justice....  These stories allow me me to forget that I can no longer place my hand on her head...feel her warm breath on my neck as she jumps on me in play... spoil her with her tail spin like a propellor when Mark lets go of the leash and she happily barrels into me when I come home... Almost two years later, and I still refuse to accept her absence..........  I understand why mankind created the concept of heaven.....  It's not possible that one so loving just stops being ......"

Sorry for the somber stream of fact, if she had the ability to read, she would never apporve....She would say....."just tell me the way I was...and I will come through"....then she would daintily squat and pee on her throw rug, and I would gladly launder it again, for the fifth time in a week.....

(More later on the hilarious challenges presented by her training....)

It was in October when Maggie and we first encountered each other.  I hate to say it but we purchased her from a pet store......but then, I like to think of it as a resuce...Yes, we did rescue her, from a horrific infancy, from a dirty birthing area, born one of many offspring to an exhausted hound whose fate it was to breed,  rescued from the memory of a trip to Illinois on a truck (we believe), with cages stacked above and below her, so frightening to her tiny sensibility that for a year she would cower whenever a truck went by....

All of that occurred to me soon, as my awareness was raised about puppy mills, and it produced in me a fierce protectiveness I had not known before, and have not felt since....

But that Saturday, we walked into the pet store in a suburban strip mall "just to look"...Mark and I, among our other similarities, shared a love for dogs, especially bassett hounds.  The minute we saw, in a cage across the store, a pair of large ears comically flapping as she romped with a cage-mate who was twice her size, we looked no more.

First there were the ears...So soft!...they came full-sized at birth, I think, attached to a tiny head and sly sad eyes that seemed always to be thinking of her next round of mischief, but still managed to be convincingly innocent, and alert, and melancholy even in her most frolicking moments.   

Then there was her belly, smooth, pink and round, which Mark said smelled like a newborn baby; he loved to gently press his face into that soft flesh and inhale. She responded with a tail wag and a delighted jerk of her small twisted legs.

The legs, especially the front ones, caused concern at first....Bassets typically have turned-out front paws, with stocky legs. Maggie's legs were spindly and twisted in a dramatic way...almost everyone who met her asked if she was crippled...until they saw her run.....Maggie loved when I massaged her tired legs, sighing as she lay on her side next to me on the living room carpet...or on the bed. 

I honestly don't remember how we named her...the shop tagged her as "Droopy"....somehow, Maggie just fit....

That first night  I didn't attend to anything else.....I could not believe we had this creature in our care.  I fell in love hearing the first sounds of her tongue dipping in her water bowl, seeing the white tip of her tail that spun whenever she saw us, watching her stumble in the back yard for the first time as she sniffed and searched and made it her world, praising her for "finding her spot" (code word for doing her duty) and settling on the corner of the lawn that we would forever dub "her corner".

Her first night, she unleashed a repertoire of sounds---howls, yips, barks, whines, hums, hymns---intended to break our wills and get her out of the laundry room (where we had set up a warm comfortable bed crate).  Her intended destination was wherever we were---specifically the bed.  We lasted one night....just to get some sleep!

She liked the warmth of the laundry room most days.  One time soon after she came home, all was quiet...did we forget to bring her inside?  We walked into the laundry room...and she managed to climb inside the dirty-clothes basket, curl up, and sleep as silently as a church mouse.....

Readers....I'm happy to introduce you to the ambassador of my "neighorhood",  Maggie Johnson......and I hope you enjoy her stories in the days ahead, and share some of your own.

1 comment:

  1. Loved the story on Maggie! As a beagle owner (a somewhat taller version of a basset with smaller ears) I of course adore basset hounds and the distinctive sounds they make. She sounds like a wonderful gift to you guys and I'm sure the feeling was mutual!