My elderly dog, Maggie, is like a daughter to me. She’s 15, and for now, I’m enjoying every last minute with her. As my friend used to say, I “save her life every day,” which is true.
I’ve always loved those little souls whom others will not. Most others would have given her up to some whippet/lab rescue group years ago. In the early days, I would come home from work to a pair of shoes destroyed, a pair of prescription glasses eaten, and once, 1,000 square feet of shredded carpet (including its underlying pad). If I weren’t traumatized at the time, I would have thought it were spectacular. Later I would learn that I was the worst dog parent ever. She was dealing with separation anxiety from me.
In our early days together, I had two other dogs with whom she could play, sleep, enjoy her days while I was at work. There was a doggie door and bowls of unending food and water. Then I’d come home, give them treats, play with them, and all three would sleep in my bed. Every weekend we’d go to the lake or the park. I thought they had a good life. Maggie told me otherwise. Dry wall was eaten. Shirts munched, still in the laundry basket. All was not right in her mind.
After I married, the baby arrived. The day my son came home from the hospital, Maggie anointed herself “The Protector.” She would sit by his Moses basket, guarding him all day. She never left his side. He was her charge and she would alight in the amazingness of being both dog and mother hen. I was no longer her focus. Walls, carpet, shoes and glasses were now safe from gnashing canine teeth and bitter, abandoned jaws.
After I divorced and my other two dogs went to the Rainbow Bridge, it was just Maggie, my baby boy, and me. We were a little family. As a single parent, I was terrified, on my own, struggling to survive. But my son and I had The Protector.