05 December 2006
Jonathan and I buried Maggie today in the back yard. We buried her with some old towels and her food bowl and her water bowl and her brush and her leash and some treats and 2 hot dogs.
She was a good dog. She lived with us for four lovely years. She was Jonathan's dog, really. We never even knew how old she really was. Four years ago she was wandering around our old neighborhood for days until Jonathan lured her into our yard by grilling some bratwurst for her. She wouldn't come near anyone else. She growled at me at first if I got too close. I was afraid of her. Which is silly in retrospect. Maggie was the gentlest, timidest dog I have ever known. But she looked a little frightening, I guess. She was fat and shaggy and black. Part Newfoundland, so you can imagine... We brought her to Petsmart to be shaved last summer after our clippers broke in her thick fur and people saw her heading in to the grooming area and just laughed. She was just one giant furball.
She looked kind of like a black bear, and was roughly the same size, too. I remember Lesley's little boy, Patrick, pointing out our window at Maggie, asking, "Mommy, what is that?" and Lesley saying, "I think it's a dog."
She had been really slow, much slower than she even usually was. And when we brought her to the mountains last weekend, she wasn't able to walk more than a few steps so we left her in the van. I think she just liked being with us.
She hadn't touched her food all week. And then yesterday, when I got up in the morning, she was gone. And I had a very bad feeling, like maybe she had wandered off into the woods to die. I called Jonathan and asked him if he had seen her when he left for work. He said he had, and that she had probably just gone down to the stream for some water. But I didn't think so. She wouldn't be gone that long.
So, all day I kept scanning the woods. It's amazing how many black shapes there are out there that look like a big, black dog if you stare hard enough. Finally, both babies were asleep and I went outside to look for her.
It was bitter cold. I even wound my scarf around my face, it was so cold. I kept praying, Please, God, let me find her before Jonathan gets home. Like I said, she was his dog, really. And I knew that would be very, very hard for him to handle. I had no idea how I could possibly move such a large animal, but I figured, I'd deal with that when I found her. Maybe I could just cover her with a blanket or something, make her look more peaceful.
I found her and it was horrible. She was in the stream. She was still alive. I think she had gone to the stream, just like Jonathan said and had fallen and been lying in the freezing water all day.
I have no idea how, but I managed to pull her massive body partway out of the water. I simply could not lift her the rest of the way, and there was still a good one hundred feet of woods with deep trenches between us and the house. So I did a very awful thing.
I left her there.
All alone in the water.
And I ran as fast as I could to the house. I didn't know what to do. ohmyGodohmyGodohmyGod was racing through my head. I called an Animal Hospital and they suggested I call Animal Control. I called Animal Control and then I called Jonathan. He was pulling into our neighborhood when I called him, so I called Animal Control back and told them not to come. Then I called my mom to see if she could leave work to come and babysit for us so we could both take Maggie to the vet together. I knew it was going to be a very sad vet visit and I didn't want Jonathan to have to take Maggie all by himself. My mother, angel that she is, came over right away while Jonathan pulled Maggie out of the water. He kept saying, "I can't believe you got her out of the water." She was just so heavy.
We put her in the back seat and covered her with dry towels and brought her to the vet. And put her to sleep. It took them for ever to find a vein because she had been in the freezing water for so long that her veins were constricted. But after about a half hour, they found one. They started to administer the medicine, and Maggie lifted her massive head and looked down at the syringe. She seemed so very, very weary. Then she put her head back down and looked at Jonathan and then she sighed and was gone. It was so quick. And so peaceful.
We still can't believe she is gone. We are both so tired. I hate this kind of emotional exhaustion. I'd much rather be physically tired. My head hurts, my eyes feel swollen. They sting. I am just so sad. But I am very proud of my Jonathan. He was very brave. He keeps thanking me for somehow pulling Maggie out of the water--he keeps saying, Seeing her lying in the water would have haunted me forever. Yeah. Tell me about it.