Our angel Labrador retriever mix, Maggie, was only my second dog. My hubby had dogs growing up, but I never had any until after marrying him and building our own home in NH. We had lost our first dog, Shelby, at only 6 years old from lymphoma. We got Maggie as a puppy in 1999 just a few months after Shelby’s loss. It was especially fun since my sister and her hubby also got a puppy from the same litter.
Maggie and her brother Bear were close, they had many play dates and were included in almost all our family gatherings. When our beagle Kobi unexpectedly joined our family, he and Maggie quickly became very best friends too. Maggie was beautiful, sweet, and loving, and we could not have loved her more. We spent most weekends and vacations camping and hiking with Maggie and Kobi, and often my sister and her hubby joined us with Bear.
Our elderly neighbors had helped us with Shelby when she was ill. The side effects of her cancer meds caused her to have to pee frequently, and since hubby and I both worked full time, having our neighbor come and let her outside made all our lives easier. That led to them to helping out with Maggie’s housebreaking as well. They would have Maggie, and then Maggie and Kobi, at their house sometimes when we were working, and it made everyone happy.
We knew that it was just a bit risky. Both Maggie and Kobi were strong dogs (and strong willed!) and could be challenging for Roland to handle. One time, Kobi broke away from him to chase a bear! Kobi’s leash got tangled in a tree not far from the house, and we were called home and Maggie ended up helping us to find him. But most of the time, the dogs just hung out in the house with Roland and his wife, and we would even deliver and then pick them up, which seemed safer.
Roland and Claire loved those dogs so much, and the dogs loved them too. It seemed to be the right thing to do to make them all happy, so we continued to let them visit.
One evening my sister asked me to go to a baseball game one of our nephews was playing in. I didn’t often go, I don’t care that much for watching sports, but I wanted to support my family and see my siblings as well. Hubby was at work, and instead of leaving the dogs home alone, I thought they’d enjoy going to the neighbors, so I brought them over there.
Oddly, when we got to the baseball game, our brother was not there. As we watched the game, we realized we couldn’t spot our nephew either! It turned out it was the wrong night for the game. As we left, it seemed a shame to have so little time together, so I suggested we go get something to eat somewhere, and so we did.
Doing what I thought were the right things for everyone that evening turned out to be all wrong.
As I later pulled in the driveway and my hubby angrily asked me where I had been (I usually let him know I’ll be going somewhere but completely forgot), I knew there was far more wrong than my forgetfulness: Maggie had pulled away from Roland when he had the dogs outside and she chased a truck. She did not survive. We knew Maggie was a car chaser – who knows why? – so she was never allowed off leash when near roads. But she was strong and determined and able to pull the leash right out of Roland’s hand.
To say we were all shocked and heartbroken seems like an understatement. We were devastated and I was left wondering how every little choice and decision I had made that evening could lead to such a tragedy.
Was it part of an intricate plan from above, or was it just completely random? How could I do what I thought were the right things – supporting family, and letting our dogs enjoy our elderly neighbors making them all happy – and have it end so badly?
To this day, I wonder about all that. I used to have a strong faith in God up to that point, even though we didn’t practice any religion. It hasn’t been the same since. I can’t say whether I believe in God or not; sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. I have a difficult time reconciling that doing the right things could lead to such a tragedy, and frankly, I still feel that way. Every decision I made that evening led to that heartbreak. Was it supposed to go that way (why?) or do things just spin randomly out of control?
My point in sharing this story is to illustrate that pets can influence us in ways we’d never imagine. We cannot underestimate their importance in our lives. Our lives changed greatly after Maggie’s loss – we stopped camping and hiking, added three more dogs to our family, and became homebodies.
Whether those changes were meant to be, or whether we were just doing what we needed to in order to survive our grief, will always be a mystery to me, even all these years later. I’ve drafted this story numerous times in my mind over the years, and even written and then deleted it.
I had a dream recently, and Maggie was in it. Nothing unusual happened in the dream, but she was there, and I wondered if she was telling me that it was indeed time to share this story. I think it’s a fitting end to Wag ‘n Woof Pets, and it was always in the back of my mind that I would write this when I decided to end this blog.
Maggie has appeared in my dreams in meaningful ways before – shortly after her death she came to me one morning when I was sleeping in the camper with Kobi beside me. In that dream I was able to hug her and kiss her. It was so real I could feel her fur. I said goodbye as I never got to in real life.
By the way, Luke was born on Maggie’s birthday, and that was one of the main reasons he ended up joining our family. Maggie’s influence on our lives has lived on.
“There are more things in heaven and earth…..than are dreamt of in our philosophy.” – William Shakespeare (Hamlet)
If you’d like to read another post on how pets influence our lives, I invite you to read one of my earliest posts “A Spiritual Awakening of Sorts”, a story about Shelby and another dog who helped to change my life at another time.
(BTW, there will be one final post for Wag ‘n Woof Pets, before I switch over to the new website and blog.)
Such a difficult and traumatic story. I have a story like that. One of our dogs was shot dead at age 2. It was during a hike. The shooter was convicted of a felony and a misdemeanor for his actions – and was required to buy us a new Lab as part of his punishment (we did not take his money). Like you, I still, to this day, question how every action that morning eventually led to our dog’s demise. If we’d just waited 10 more minutes before going hiking, he probably would not have been killed. I can list a lot of other small changes to our day that would have kept him alive. My faith in everything was shaken, and it changed me forever, just like Maggie’s traumatic death changed you. I am so sorry that you lost her that way – she sounds like a classic sweet and loving Lab. It also sounds like you were truly trying to make everyone’s lives as happy as possible. Life is so very hard sometimes.
It certainly is, and I often wonder why it has to be so hard. I appreciate your understanding and relating to my story, but I’m sad you lost your loved one that awful way too. No matter what punishment that person was given, it’s never enough, because you’ll never get back the only thing you want – your beloved dog. 🙁
I’ve had a huge crisis since late last year. I just haven’t been posting or having the motivation to post as much as I did before. I don’t think the entire story is related to Bear’s health – but it certainly didn’t help. I wrote a long comment on this post last week and I don’t see it – so phoo.
It’s so strange to look back on a point in time and realize that’s when everything changed. You don’t realize things are changing … and the process goes so slowly you never see it happening. I had a similar experience a month ago. I was pitching a lot of junk I’d kept and there was a career assessment I filled out in high school. I looked over my answers and I couldn’t believe it! I don’t remember feeling that way at all! Out of curiosity, I took the assessment again and this time my results were completely opposite what they were before. How can my entire personality shift and change – how can the things I like and don’t like completely change – without me realizing it? I had no clue! I honestly believed I’d answer everything exactly the same. It’s sad because I know a point or two in my life where this transformation started. Part of me wants to go back to the person I was before – but the other part of me wonders if maybe it’s worked out for the best. In any case, do what you need to do. But please, stay in touch because we care about you all and we treasure your friendship!
I will definitely keep in touch, and we’ll be back in a different place! ‘m sorry you’ve had problems with your motivation too.
I’ve also found things from my past – old diaries – and reading through them do not remember feeling those ways either. Can’t help thinking I was a little crazy – LOL! But who am I kidding, I still am, just in different ways! I guess those changes are just part of growing up, though I don’t think we ever expect to be totally different people, and don’t even realize it’s happening.
They left sweet memories for us to remember! I’m so sorry to hear your loss…
Dog’s News & Stories
Melissa K. Clinton says
I am so very sorry for everyone involved in Maggie’s tragedy. It is understandable that you’d question everything. My cat often comes into my dreams and it always shocks me. I realize in my dreams that I haven’t fed her in years but she is always still alive and okay. She runs to me the same way she did at the shelter. The dreams are so real that it has to be their spirit visiting. Thank you for sharing.
Those dreams are a blessing, aren’t they? ♥
Bell Fur Zoo says
I am so sorry this happened to ya’ll as well as your neighbors. I can feel the raw pain you still feel in your words :'( It’s so hard when they are taken from us so soon and so suddenly. I like to think everything happens for a reason but sometimes it is really hard to find that reason.
Jenny @ Bell Fur Zoo
Thank you, Jenny. ♥
Thanks for sharing such a heartfelt story. It’s heartbreaking that you lost Maggie in such a tragic accident. My pets have probably influenced my decisions and life path more than any people. Looking forward to your final post and following you on your new blog.
Thank you so much, Raven. ♥
Lynn LaChance says
Our love for Maggie and Bear will never die…and we will always have our precious memories…that’s all I can manage to say to this poignant, thoughtful post, Jan..
Love you too, Sis! We will miss them forever, won’t we? We had such fun times with them!!
That was an amazing story to share with us, thank you. Please keep us updated on your new blog, we’d love to check it out.
I definitely will!! Thank you.
Ellen Pilch says
I am so sorry you lost your Maggie that way. Losing so many cats this past year has caused me to be mad at God, but I still believe he is there.
Thank you, Ellen. That is very understandable, and I envy you your strong faith. ♥
Ducky’s Mom says
Oh, Jan, where should I start? I understand the faith crisis, the questioning it all, I really do. I’ve gone through periods in my life of questioning the existence of God – or some other “higher being” – and all I can say is “go with the flow”. As to your recent dream about Maggie, I think you are right – she’s telling you it’s time to move on from Wag-n-Woof Pets to the new website. (Just like I need to move on and make In My Heart 4Ever my primary blog.) I’m looking forward to seeing the new website soon! I know it’ll be a great one!
Ducky sends Luke paw kisses. 🐾😘🐾😘
Thank you, Sue, and Luke sends kisses back to Miss Ducky! ♥
Tails Around the Ranch says
Aw, what a precious story. Today would have been dear Sam’s 15th birthday so I totally identify with your thoughts on the event that triggered your thoughts on faith. I still have ‘what if’s’ from his passing and am going through some of the same faith questioning myself these days. Stay strong and safe. Hope you know we’ll continue to follow you when the new blog launches. Good luck with the process.
Thank you so much for your support, Monika.
I think we all have doubts about whether we’ve done the right thing for our pets at the end, especially if we have to make that “dreaded decision”. Some are tougher than others though.
I also think that all that is going on in the world today brings a lot of doubts to those of us who aren’t cemented in our faith. 🙁
Theresa Spaid says
What a beautiful story. I had tears in my eyes by the ending. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you, Theresa. ♥
Brian Frum says
That was so sad and I totally understand. I don’t understand how bad things can happen to such good animals, it’s senseless.
At least Maggie had a good, happy life, albeit short. So many other animals go through far worse things, and that is really difficult to make sense of.
You’ve made my eyes leaky with this post. You know how I feel about our precious Little Bit. Hubby has had dreams where they were together after her passing. I so understand how you feel.
Have a blessed day, my friend. Healing hug to you and smooches to Luke. ♥
I know how much your Little Bit meant to you, so I know you understand. Thank you so much, and Luke sends smooches back.
It takes a strong person to bare your heart like this, and I had tears in my eyes too, even though I had not ever known your beloved Maggie.
We just sometimes never know/understand why things go the way they do…and it hurts a lot in situations like that, doesn’t it?
I am sorry you had to go through that heartbreaking event.
((((( ♥ )))))
Thank you so much for your kind words. ♥♥♥
The Island Cats says
Maggie was beautiful. I’m so sorry this happened to you and her…and it made you question your faith. I’d like to say things happen for a reason, but sometimes I’m not sure if that’s true. All we can do is learn from each of our experiences…whether good or bad.
Thank you. ♥
I think it can make life even more stressful if we try too hard to make sense of things, if that makes any sense. You are right, all we can do is learn and move forward from there.
Our hearts break for you, even after all this time. It’s such a hard way to lose a beloved family member. It’s happened to us also. How special that Maggie and Luke will always share the same birthday.
Yes, I love that connection always being there.
I’m sorry that happened to you too. Those sudden unexpected losses are so difficult to deal with. 🙁
we feel with you… this evening was something whavt never should happen to people like you… hugs to you …and also hugs to your neighbors who probably felt very sad too…
They were sad….we let them continue to see Kobi, though we always picked him up and delivered him after that. Kobi was so devastated anyway, there was no way we could take them away from him too. ♥
We believe all things happen for a reason and we make he choices we make that steer our lives in different directions. Don’t fight those gut feelings and decisions, go with them and life will be so much better. So sad that Maggie passed that way, and the poor neighbor must have felt just terrible. Thanks for sharing your story.
I will try not to over-think things so much! Trying to just go with the flow seems less stressful. ♥