My daughter spotted her first of all, on the website of Save-a Dog in Melbourne in October 2006, and suggested I might like to consider her for the position of Big Dog, which had been vacant for some time, and had been much in my mind when I moved to this large country property. Then my son saw her in person, and encouraged me to go and meet her myself. A couple of days later I drove to Melbourne and met her……..then, not wanting to do anything impulsive, that I might regret, I drove the two hours home again. A decision was made by the time I got back, and immediately rang the shelter to say I would collect her the next day. Thus the beautiful and beloved Maggie entered my life.
There was little known about her story, she was surrendered in the North of the state, with a male collie, and thought to be about 5 years old. Mags was in a bad way, she had been infested with fleas, and was still filthy with her coat matted and dreadlocked, very underweight, nervous, and frightened of men. Later a vet told me she had probably suffered a broken leg at some time, and this contributed to significant arthritic problems as she got older. Given that I was told both dogs were often picked up by the local ranger, a car accident was a possibility, but we shall never know.
Initially she was ravenously hungry, stealing food from kitchen benches, and fiercely defending her meals or bones from others, but once she settled in and gained weight, this stopped and her very gentle nature surfaced. She was my shadow, a loyal friend and companion, happy to follow me around the garden, come in the car, or sit beside me wherever I was. She was always waiting at the front door for me if I had gone out without her.
Maggie was a most affectionate dog, she loved to lean against you, sit on you if you were on the floor, or cuddle up on the couch and she would touch you with her right paw if she wanted something and would lift your hand or arm with her long nose if she needed to be stroked. If clothing was left on the floor, she would sleep on it like a smaller dog might do. She hunted and ate flies that came into the house, and would bark wildly at flocks of sparrows chirping in the bushes. She hated cats, particularly my neighbour’s ones and would fly off the veranda, barking fiercely if she spotted one in her garden, but would always greet visitors who came to the house in a friendly way. Maggie loved to go for walks, usually off the lead, and would become so excited when I put on my walking boots, changed my clothes or collected Bella’s lead, that she would yodel or sing. She never wandered away from home, which was such a joy in comparison to Bella’s desire to bolt at every opportunity, and which has not diminished over the years. Even as her arthritis became more serious, Maggie would valiantly follow, at her own pace when I walked each morning with several friends and their dogs too.
Less than two weeks ago a visit to the vet to investigate a change in her behaviour and breathing revealed that she had Lymphoma, a form of Leukaemia, and a very limited prognosis. Some medication was tried, to make her more comfortable but it did not have much effect, and with much sadness and love, she was put to sleep at home, on Sunday last. She has been buried on a friend’s property as this place will be sold in the next few months, and I could not bear to leave her with strangers.
I could write much more about this wonderful dog, but will not. Suffice to say the loss is enormous, my home feels empty without her……….as does my heart.