Monster. Tubby. Mama’s little piggy. Alma. What do these four things have in common? They are all nicknames I’ve given to my two dogs, Maggie and Max. Throughout my childhood I was very lucky to have grown up with a variety of different pets. There was my light blue parakeet name Pigglesnort. We also had fun watching our fish Rocky grow from a little bitty guy to a fish to be reckoned with. Most importantly, there were our three cats – Dallas (the main kitty), Dixie (the mean kitty), and finally Morris (who was a stray who bit my sister, so of course we had to adopt him). In all the time I lived with my parents, there was one kind of animal that we never had – a dog.
I don’t think I was aware just how different dogs are from cats…in a good way…and so, at the age of 23, my sweet Beagle mix Maggie came into our lives. She was already a year old at the time, but the family who she was living with couldn’t seem to understand how she kept getting out of their yard. I think the split-rail fence had something to do with it…well that and her incredible Houdini skills. Maggie, whose full name is Maggie Louise, doesn’t look like the typical Beagle. When someone asks me what kind of dog she is I usually respond by saying she’s part Beagle/part sneaky neighbor’s dog. Really, she looks like she’s made up of spare parts. Her head looks like a Beagle with black spots on her body and red spots on her legs. She also has a very large black spot on her side. She has one ear that flops over and one that sticks out to the side, and she has the longest eyebrows of any animal I’ve ever seen!! Needless to say, she’s definitely one of a kind.
Now 14½, Maggie is a little slower, a little more deaf, a bit “fluffier” but is still the sweet girl she’s always been. She may have changed physically, but mentally, she is still sharp as a tack! She still enjoys tilling up the back yard or deciding that even though her brother’s food is the exact same as hers she would much rather eat his instead of (or in addition to) hers…hence the “fluffiness.” Usually she is a slow mover, but she proved recently that she still has a bit of spunk left in her. She had been outside taking a potty break and “announced” as she always does that she needs to be let back inside. Usually when I open the door she will walk in slowly as if she’s doing an impression of Yoda. This particular time was different. When I opened the door she RAN in the house towards her food/water bowl, turned (as well as she could on a tile floor) and RAN through the kitchen! Did she stop you ask? NO!! She kept RUNNING through the dining room, into our bedroom, and finally ended up in her pet taxi. If you knew her, you’d know how funny this is in its own right, but what made it absolutely hysterical was that from the moment she entered the house she was looking right at me as if to say “See mama!! I’m running!!! I’m still running!! Holy crap I’m running!!” You’ve just got to love those moments.
When Maggie was five years old, we brought home a sweet little six-week old Boston Terrier named Max. I had never had a puppy before so of course upon seeing him I had fallen head-over-heels in love! He was so cute with his little pink nose with the three black dots. His markings are still beautiful to this day, although his nose is now completely black. Max, whose full name is Maximus Decimus, is a little ball of energy. He is now 9½ and still acts like he’s a puppy. Every so often when he has a LOT of pent-up energy he’ll start barking. This isn’t a normal bark as he’s usually a very quite dog…both of mine are. This is his “I’m about to spazz out” bark and I’ll tell you, you cannot PAY for better entertainment. He spreads his front legs really wide so he’s low to the floor and he gets this crazy look in his eyes. Next, he may jump up and spin around a few times, but it always leads to him running at mach speed through the house with his butt tucked under as if he’s trying to avoid a spanking. If we knew what set off this behavior, I guarantee we would do it ALL THE TIME!!!
Individually, Maggie and Max are sweet, loving dogs. Together, they can really keep you on your toes. Just when you think you know where Maggie is you look over at the dining room and find that she’s crawled under the dining room table and put herself in “jail.” On more than one occasion I have had either one or both dogs get out of the yard only to have them walk around to the front door and wait for us to discover them and let them inside. Max’s excuse for not running off is that he really is a good boy. He knows he’s not supposed to be out of the yard and goes right to where is supposed to be before he gets caught. In years past, Maggie would have been off and running had she escaped from the yard. Now I believe she has figured out that if she runs off she’s going to have to come all the way back…plus home is where the food is and she can’t miss a meal!!!
Never in a million years would I have imagined just how much Maggie and Max would touch my life. They completely understand the concept of unconditional love. They are my comic relief when I need a laugh. They’re something sweet to look at when the world rears its ugly face. I have been so blessed to have had them as a part of my family as long as I have, and I am grateful for what time we have left to share. Even with everything we’ve been through with owning a dog (Max’s allergies, Maggie’s arthritis, dog farts, etc.), I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I think sometimes that the two of them can completely understand what I’m saying and I often wonder what they truly think about me. Am I as good a person as my dog thinks I am? Maybe I should just let sleeping dogs lie!