Our Maggie crossed The Rainbow Bridge on October 25, 2016
Our Wee Widget, our Little Stumpy Legs, our Little Jellybean, our Maggie Mae slipped from this earthly life and crossed the Rainbow Bridge peacefully on the afternoon of October 25. Her health had deteriorated in recent months to the point where her quality of life was such that we realized we were being selfish in keeping her with us. Comfortable on her pillow, lights low with only my Bear candle glowing to light her path, Reiki music playing, and our loving and releasing her … she now awaits to greet us when our times come to cross over.
Maggie became a member of our wee clan on February 28, 2010, adopted from a shelter in Texas before we started full-timing. I suppose she came full circle, her journey with us ending where it began – in Texas.
It was love at first sight for her, Dave and myself. I just know she was waiting for us, as we were for her. Our previous dog, Baby, had passed less than a month previously. Dave and I both know that Baby had a paw in bringing Maggie into our life together. She was a transfer from another shelter, and her prior history was unknown. She was shy at first, and during those first few days sometimes would look at us as if wondering what Life held in store for her.
Those first couple of weeks were about trust. Reassuring her that she was indeed home at last. Reluctant to believe the food bowl and food were hers and hers alone, I hand fed bits of kibble to her. A few at a time for several days, until finally she realized that this was her food and no one would take it away from her. We came full circle with that, too, at the end. In those last weeks when she was too weak or tired to stand at the food bowl, I would hand feed her once again. Such a bonding, sharing of love, such an intimate act …hand feeding one’s beloved companion.
Seems like she was with us about a week before she did her “business,” and we were about to the point of taking her to the vet until one day … yahoo! I tell ya, Dave and I were so silly and elated, like parents whose child had just achieved the milestone of being successfully potty trained. We still laugh about that even now. Our funny Stumpy Legs …
The initial shyness didn’t last long, and soon “Maggie’s Happy Face” was a part of our daily lives.
We embarked on the full-time lifestyle in our RV a few months after Maggie came to us. She loved traveling and seeing-smelling-exploring new environments and meeting new friends, human and doggie. For her protection, she rode in a spacious crate in the back area of our truck’s cab. The ultimate road tripper, she was so quiet we joked that she must be doing crosswords or knitting back there. She checked out countless rest areas during our time together. Enjoying the break, she was ever eager to get back in the truck and continue on down the road.
Everyone says their dog is a good dog, a smart dog. Well, our Little Jellybean was that. She knew various commands, a few tricks and bunches of words and phrases. “Want to go on patrol?” “Want to go to the beach?” Oh yeah, you betcha! More than that, she was attuned to us and our routines, as we were to hers.
Maggie loved snow, and got plenty of that during our time in New Jersey
So many adventures this wee doggie had in our 6.5 years together!
- She traveled the eastern third of the United States
- Two hurricanes and Superstorm Sandy
- One earthquake
- Numerous blizzards and Nor’easters
- Holidays at the Jersey Shore
- Two National Military Parks
- Countless campfires shared
- Geese, rabbits, deer, bears, horses, cows
- Went on patrol with us when we worked as an on-site security team and hung out in our office
- Many more …
Peek a boo!
The three of us were together virtually 24/7 ever since that day in February 2010. She spent only two nights away from us during that time, both for medical reasons at a vet. Our lifestyle afforded us the opportunity to be together. Maggie was our constant companion, very much a member of our family. Dave and I do not have children together, so I think Maggie was that child, albeit with four feet, a fur coat, and a very pink tongue.
Happy to see Dave home from his bike ride
If Dave or I were away from home and would call the other, you could hear Maggie barking in the background. She knew it was us calling! So funny, our girl.
On patrol in South Carolina
Maggie and me at Gettysburg
Fun at the beach house on the Jersey Shore.
Bedtime and mornings are the hardest for me. Maggie would perform her “turndown service” every night without fail, even in her final days. I would turn down the top comforter, neatly (remember this word “neatly”) arrange my pillows and linens, and place her folded blanket at the foot of the bed. I’d go brush my teeth. On my return …
Maggie’s version of turndown service
She would move to the foot of the bed while I was getting settled under the covers but, once that was done, she would come back up to snuggle by my side or – in colder weather – between my legs. It’s going to be a colder Winter this year … no Snuggle Bud warmth in bed. No quiet “woof-woof” while she dreams doggie dreams. Waking up was snuggle-and-silly time, an excellent way to start each day.
Raincoat, sweaters, parka, boots – Maggs was a well-dressed pup, ready for whatever Mother Nature had in store. We had been told by a neighbor at an RV park they waited each day to see what sweater Maggie would be wearing.
Maggie was a joyous dog. She lived totally in the moment … she was Mindfully Present in the here and now. She awoke each morning in a good mood, was never cross with us, actually enjoyed being clipped (something I did versus taking her to a groomer), and tolerated baths, reveling in “crazy dog towel time” afterwards. She was not a “yapper,” but would sound the alarm when appropriate, and I could say “Tell me,” and she would respond in kind. Big bark or little bark, depending on what I asked she do. She “sang” to us and made what we called “alien noises” – not barking, but her way of talking to us, yep, those “alien noises.” Although provided with all types of typical doggie toys (including old socks, you know dogs love tug-of-war with socks) and encouraged to play with them, she never took an interest. First dog I’ve known or lived with who just flat didn’t care for toys. That being said, she would play with us.
She had a few health issues throughout her life, but obviously declined in the past months. Liver issues or cancer were suspects. Various tests were inconclusive and cursory treatments provided no improvement. She had lost a dramatic amount of weight, one-third of her original 15 pounds. Talks with our vet confirmed the ultimate outcome, so we opted for quality over quantity. As a two-time cancer survivor, I could not submit our girl to the horrors of chemo, given her age and other health issues. Dave agreed, and our vet said she would opt for the same path with her dog.
As she declined, much of my day was devoted to Maggie’s care – feeding her, lifting her up on furniture and into the rig, keeping her comfortable, and seeing to her other needs. Since she has been gone, I have realized I was subconsciously sleeping with “one ear open” in case she was in distress during the night. Yes, she was a lot of care towards the end, as one gives to a chronically or terminally ill loved one. I am now left with a void in my routine and have realized that I have been tired – not just physically but emotionally and spiritually.
Now I go to the bathroom unescorted … you know that’s what dogs do, they hang out with you, just like you do with them … The silence of the lack of Maggie’s presence is deafening at times.
The vet here determined that Maggie was older than we originally thought and, looking back at photos over the years, I can see that she had indeed aged. Among her other issues, she had cataracts forming in both eyes.
It was tearing us both up seeing our little girl’s decline in health and her infirmity. Having been down this path so many times before in my 58 years, I was seeing Maggie give me “the look,” and I knew she was asking to be released. I knew it was time to let her go. We owed her so much more than being miserable … we owed her joy and love, as she had given so unconditionally to us. We wanted our little girl to leave this world peacefully. We did not want her condition to progress to … well, something terrible.
I would rather say good-bye a month early than a day late.
We owed her peace.
Maggie was cremated, as we obviously do not have a yard for a burial spot. When I was in hospital in 2012, Dave bought the wee doggie in the bed because Maggie couldn’t be with me. Neither of us realized at first, but the doggie “breathes” courtesy of an internal battery. “Gee, that is so thoughtful.” “Wait .. is that dog breathing?” That kinda freaked us and the nurses out when we first noticed! It has been in a cabinet, but I got it out and attached Maggie’s tags to its collar. Her urn is placed next to this slumbering doggie, in the spot where her crate used to be. She used to sit on top of the crate, looking out the window and soaking up sunshine. It was one of her “spots.”
Closure and comfort
This Tuesday will be three weeks and I am still blindsided by tears at times as I was this morning, but we talk about our adventures with our Maggie Mae, and smiles come more than tears these days. It will get better, and perhaps sharing her here will help, too. I realized today that I have always written about Life events in my blogging. Once a prolific blogger/writer, that has taken a back seat in the past several months. I am hopeful this will be a catharsis of sorts for me … more closure.
I also hope you enjoy reading about our silly, joyous little Maggie and our time together.
One of the lessons Maggie shared was to live Life with joy and to be present in the moment. I know she would not want me to be sad because of her, but to live Life as she did.
After all, this moment is all one really has. There are no guarantees of anything else.
I’m working on that, Jellybean.
Will there be another dog in our lives? I don’t know. It’s too early. Time will tell.
Maggie Barnes, February 28, 2010 – October 25, 2016