It’s a sad fact of life as a pet owner. Pets don’t live as long as we do. I think in a way it says something about humans the way we will love and devote so much of our lives to a creature we know we're going to lose. We know the loss will be hard and the pain deep. We still love them as though they will be with us forever all the while knowing they won’t. It’s one of the good parts of humanity.
I’m starting a new series for my blog called “Crossed the bridge.” The title is still a work in progress. When I photograph a dog or dogs I feel connected to them so I am saddened when I hear of their passing. Although I’m sad I am glad when the owners let me know of their passing.
I was contacted to do photos of 4 Golden Retrievers (yes 4) and after talking to the owners I realized these were the same people I have seen in my neighborhood walking their 4 dogs (walking 4 dogs kind ofmakes you stick out). I can’t say that I know the Walliker’s personally, but after 12 years in this neighborhood I know the one thing I can almost set my watch to is them walking their dogs. After spending a little time with them and seeing what their dogs mean to them I can say that Paul and Shari are the dog owners we should all strive to be.
I hadn’t seen Maggie out on the walks in quite awhile so in my heart I felt like I knew why. But how can you ask someone that question? I received a message from Shari about something unrelated and I asked how everyone was doing? That’s when she informed me that Maggie had passed away in July of last year. I asked if she could send me some info on Maggie so I could put together a blog remembering her. A little while later her husband sent me an email and the way he wrote it makes my job easier because I am just going to paste it in word for word.
Maggie Mae Walliker
We came by Maggie through a newspaper ad. Maggie, who was only one year old, was too much to handle for the grandmother who owned her at the time. Maggie was just too full of energy. When we went to see Maggie she was running laps around the house to show off for the visitors. When her owner tried ordering her to “go to bed,” Maggie simply “tagged up” on her dog bed and kept on running. She stayed “high energy” for several years.
Maggie was one smart dog--“spooky smart”--if you know what I mean. The day after we brought her home she squirted out of the back gate and jumped into our van and sat down in the middle seat. She was telling us that it had been fun, but she was ready to go “home” now. Another time, my daughter and I watched Maggie roll a tennis ball under a paw as she lay on the floor, much like a person would roll something under the palm of the hand. Maggie stared at her paw the whole time she was doing this. We just shook our heads.
Maggie latched on to our 12-year old daughter, Brianna, and became her best friend for the rest of her life. Maggie would sleep on a dog bed beside Brianna each night and would faithfully guard her until she woke up. When Brianna was home, Maggie could always be found at her side. If she was sitting on the couch, Maggie was beside her. If she was sunbathing in the back yard, Maggie was lying in the hot sun too. Maggie was so attentive. In fact, one day when I was traveling for work, Maggie presented Brianna with a freshly killed rabbit. I will forever be convinced that Maggie felt that since dad was gone, her girl might not have anything to eat so she stepped up and gave her a delicacy that most dogs would have never parted with. It was a “gift of the Magi” moment in our view. (as disgusting as it might sound to a human). It happened to be Brianna’s 14th birthday and was a gift she will never forget.
Of course, Brianna grew up and went away to college but at the words, “Brianna’s home,” Maggie would leap to her feet and run for the fence gate beside the garage wagging her butt off. Maggie went on to become the “Grande Dame” of our dogs and command the respect of the youngsters. Like all of us, Maggie grew old. Her last year she took a separate, shorter walk than our other dogs. She slept most of the time. The saddest thing for us was that even though her body had worn out, her mind was as sharp as ever, right up to the moment we helped her cross over the bridge. We are comforted by the certain knowledge that Maggie is watching over her girl as I write this. You did good, Maggie Mae. You have a lot to be proud of.
Thank you, Maggie, for allowing me a short visit in your life and my deepest condolences to the Walliker family.