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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Maggie (2002-2012)

Maggie drew a crowd on her 1st day with us

Maybe 3 months old

It's often said that the best way to deal with a loss is to talk about it. I tried to write about the shock and relief that I felt on the night Maggie died but I couldn't. This is a second attempt after a month, time has distilled the memories to just happy ones.

Almost all of my life I had dogs and Maggie was my best dog. She was not the prettiest nor the most obedient chocolate lab, she was just a good dog with a personality that almost everyone found endearing. In general, I only had to yell at her once in anger to teach her not to do something, so I guess she was obedient in her own way, and to a greater degree, on her own terms.

She slept very close to the foot board on my bed because I did not  appreciate her dog breath, but on other beds where she knew she could get away with, she would sprawl out on her back with her head on the pillow like Red Riding Hood's grandma. She was also flexible when necessary, when put in a home with multiple cats for a week while we were on vacation, she coexisted peacefully with the cats and received nothing but praises from the home owner.

Here's some very ancient Chinese verses (from 詩經 about 2,000 years ago, simple unrhymed poetry)

彼狡童兮,不與我言兮。              --- That coy child, she no longer speaks to me.
維子之故,使我不能餐兮!          --- Because of her, I lose my appetite!
彼狡童兮,不與我食兮。              --- That coy child, she no long eats with me.
維子之故,使我不能息兮!          ---- Because of her, I cannot rest!
The word 狡, in ancient written Chinese, could be synonymous with 姣 (feminine form of good looking), I am using the literal meaning here which I think is more appropriate.

How true, the first thing we remember about Maggie is her coyness. Maggie lived for food, she ate her food with such gusto that I always thought she was going to develop some sort of stomach problem. Secretly, she madly coveted human food but manged to show no interest in it when people were around, she would look totally bored while we were having Thanksgiving dinner and would not bat an eyelash if the turkey carcass was thrown into the trash.

To what extent could Maggie carry this act? A few months ago, as I walked toward my car to go to work, I realized I left a roll of bagels on the kitchen table and quickly ran back to the house to put it away, but it was already too late. The bagels were on the floor and one of them was next to the dog bed where Maggie was sound asleep with her snout inches away from the evidence.  Apparently in less than 1 minute, she ripped open the plastic, took a bagel out, took a hasty bite, heard my footsteps, and did her best to pretend the whole thing had nothing to do with her.

Everyone has a favorite story to tell, pies, loaves of bread, an entire roasted duck had disappeared. when it came to food, she was totally unmoored from her values and her sneakiness knew no bounds, she simply could not help it.

Who, me?

Playing catch

Ha Ha Ha

Maggie was a country girl, she loved the great outdoors.  To her, hiking meant carry stuff for people, charging ahead and doubling back to find out what's taking you people so long, and, of course, swimming wherever there's water.

Bert with a famish dog

Anne with a famish dog
Nothing beats swimming after a number 2

One time we almost had to be rescued. It was late spring, a most dangerous time at Mount Washington's Tuckerman Ravine (where numerous hikers died in the past) . There was only a lone skier in the whole place other than us. To make a long story short, Maggie and I climbed over the rocks at the top of the bowl in the second picture (because it was too steep and risky to climb down), the caretaker actually prepared my sister and my children for the worst before he "found" us.

People say Labs are perpetual puppies. To me, Maggie always had been the little sisters to my kids and nephews and nieces. Even when she was becoming a senior, she was full or energy and would walk away from her meal to play with them. Somehow she felt the energy of young people and would do anything for attention. She was the little sister that's always doing cartwheels in front of her older siblings and their friends, nothing pleased her more than hanging out with the older kids even she knew not what they were talking about.

I'm afraid I'm becoming 祥林嫂, a woman in a famous Chinese short story, who could not get over the death of her young son and ultimately became an unsympathetic figure. I've already deleted most of the words I wrote in this blog. OK, let it be a boring remembrance of Maggie, still I can't help wondering if I went first, would my coy child be heartbroken too?

1 comment:

  1. From "Aunt" Ivy

    We (the Cheng cousins) enjoyed having Maggie as our "house guest" on several occasions. She was coy alright - not only regarding human food but also with human furniture. She pretended to like her pet bed but the minute we turned our back, she was on the couch... I'll always remember with fondness our obedience drills (not sure who trained whom because she always "earned" all the snacks) and long walks/swims along the C&O Canal. How I wish our attempt to have a litter of little gold. chocolate and black Maggies were more successful. We managed to find her an eligible boy friend (Magnum was quite a stud) but it was hard to figure out Maggie's true feelings toward him. It would have been wonderful if that had worked.