Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Dog-Shelter Story--Wednesday Journal

Taking a break from Oscars, and the movies.  In a few days, I'll come back to weigh in on the nominations for 2009, back from my 40-year sentimental journey.

But tonight, here's a story of what occurred yesterday, a fitting commemoration of a difficult anniversary.  I want to preserve this in my journal here and share it with the rest of you.  What happened was moving, and necessary.

Yesterday (February 2) was a snowy, dreary Groundhog Day.  It was just like Groundhog Day exactly two years ago, the day we put to rest our Bassett Hound, Maggie.  She was having seizures continuously, and the light was gone from her eyes.  The veterinary team was exceedingly kind to us, as we spent our last moments very close to her, reassuring her it that was all right for her to leave us, to feel better at last.    Two years later, the pain of losing her is manageable, but has not gone away completely. It's a feeling that reminds me that she was once a very important part of my life.  As Joni Mitchell wrote in her song Hejira, "There's comfort in melancholy...."

A couple of weeks ago, while cleaning kitchen cabinets, I found the last can of dog food we had purchased for her. We never had the heart to get rid of it, and I had forgottten it was there.  I checked and the expiration date was still good.

As it turned out, I was scheduled for a shift at the Buddy Foundation yesterday, on this wistful aniversary.  I somehow knew that the time spent there would be emotionally healing.  I took the can of food with me to the shelter, because  my shift on Tuesdays is always feeding time., and I got permission to use it to feed the dogs in our care. 

Other than  the souveniers we have in safekeeping (her bandanas, collar and leash, fleece coat, old toys, and of course, armloads of photographs), this was the last item we had that was related to Maggie's care.  It felt like she was there with me at the shelter, wagging her tail at the prospect of sharing a meal with my new friends, all of them jumping and making happy noises.

I opened the can, and wept silently, internally... there were no tears.  I was happy in my work with these creatures, all of them characters, all of them depending for their very lives on the care provoded by us volunteers.  I was joyful that I was sharing the last of Maggie's food to sustain the lives of these homeless, hapless animals.  Some of them would never find a home, I knew.  This was all they would ever have. 

Maggie, in her own way, just wanted to help me out.

So Cassie the sweet little beagle, Zoe the dalmatian mix, Abel the Golden Retriever, Danny the pit bull,  Starsky the Boxer/Basset Hound...they and others received the benefit of Maggie's "generosity".   I was able to let go a little more...not for good, not completely, but happily, knowing that one life was flowing into so many others.

It felt, like nothing else I have experienced, like a true communion.  


  1. Great post, Tom! A very sweet tribute to Maggie and a heartfelt story. Well done.

  2. Thank you guys for being there.. I wish you could have known her...In some ways you already do.

  3. Very moving post. I know how you feel. Putting a beloved pet down (I've done it twice) is a heart wrenching experience to say the least. I still have their bowls, leashes and collars around too. I donated Cleo's dog food to the shelter also. Maggie must have been a great dog Tom.

  4. btw..they really do live on in our hearts don't they?