Okay, for those of you who have been waiting for the other shoe (or dog) to drop, here is part II of my dog saga that began on my last posting with the sad story of our first dog, Nicki.
After ten years in South Florida it proved difficult moving back north. We missed Florida and we decided to go back as soon as we could. We actually pulled it off, returning to the Fort Lauderdale area in just under three years of living in Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Other than Bowser the cat, who didn’t have much to do with anyone, we had been pet free for some time. Rosemarie had begun mentioning she’d like to get another dog. As Easter rolled around, I decided I’d slip a live puppy in Rosemarie’s basket. Enter dog #2, another golden retriever, but I intentionally selected one that had a lot less red than Nicki and a lot more blond. “Maggie” was an instant hit: Super puppy cute and super lovable. Rockwell would have painted her and Hallmark would have put her on a card. She was constantly active and constantly bounding excitedly throughout the house. I actually selected her because she was so full of energy. Biggg mistake. That should have been a warning.
For the short time we had her, Maggie never settled down. She was always very excitable. She was especially hyper when anyone approached. And when she got overly-excited her way of extending a greeting was to pee on anyone in range. She didn’t miss many. She christened all the neighbors, soaked the sneakers of every kid on the block and special delivered her love to our representative from the U.S. Postal Service.
Walking her became a chore. She was a people magnet and it was people I had to avoid, unless they wanted to get peed on. No one seemed to volunteer for that. Maggi brought a whole new meaning to “beware of dog.”
It came to be that she befriended Max, the little white Maltese that lived next door. They developed a playful routine of each running across our adjacent backyards and coming inside our homes through the open sliding doors on the patios. It was almost like kids who had become good friends and subsequently part of each other’s family. It was perfectly normal having Max dropping by as I am sure it was when Maggie wandered into our neighbor’s house.
One day a big moving van came and Max and his family were gone. Maggie didn’t understand. She kept running over there looking for Max, but unlike before, the patio door was closed. For several days, anytime we opened our door Maggie would scoot out and take off across the yard looking for her friend. Much to her glee, one day the neighbor’s door was open and she bolted inside the house. This was the day the new owners were having wall-to-wall carpeting installed and Maggie, being so happy finding the door open, did what she always did when she was happy…she peed all over the new rug. Oh joy. Oh $400 to replace the piece of carpet she ruined.
Rosemarie and I eventually agreed that, after working all day, we just didn’t have the energy or level of enthusiasm that it would take to bring this dog in line. Maggie had to go. Rosemarie was a little hesitant. I wasn’t. On Sunday, we took Maggie to a shopping center parking lot where dogs were on display and available for adoption. The organizers had a good reputation for placing dogs in good environments they would check out themselves. By the end of the day, Maggie went home with as nice family with two young boys. I felt good. She’d get plenty of attention and someone was always home at her new address.
Monday morning, on the way to work, I dropped Rosemarie off at the airport for a business trip. That evening, as I opened the door when I got home, the phone was ringing. It was Maggie’s new owners. They were bringing Maggie back. She had bitten one of the boys who, not knowing any better, teased her while she was eating. The father was livid. He would not have a dog biting his children.
An hour later I sat on the kitchen floor, my back leaning against the cabinet under the sink. Across from me, also sitting, was Maggie. We stared at each other, she with a pose that seemed as if she actually understood she had messed up. I simply looked at her and said out loud, “Maggie, what the hell do I tell Rosemarie when she calls me later tonight?” I know my wife and I knew exactly what her reaction would be. She’s would tell me it was fate and that Maggie was back home because here is where she is meant to be.
As we sat together on the floor, continuing to stare at each other as if in a scene perfectly coached by a movie director, the phone rang. It was the adoption agency. They had another family interested in Maggie and wanted to know if they could come over. About an hour later, a nurse shows up with two teenage daughters. I small-talk her about Rosemarie being a nurse too, but they do not know each other. The three of them immediately bond with Maggie. I made sure to disclose everything: her excitability, her peeing on everybody and everything, her biting if you mess with her while she’s eating and how hyper she can be. They don’t care about any of these things. They’ve been through it before. They had recently lost their golden retriever to old age. They knew all about having a rambunctious puppy and had no problems dealing with it. In fact the girls already had Maggie’s leash on her and out the door they went. Maggie seemed happy with her new friends, judging by the series of little puddles that followed their departure.
Several years later Rosemarie was attending a nurses’ gathering of some sort when another nurse walked up to her.
“Hello Rosemarie,” she said. “I noticed your name tag and I just wanted to say hello and tell you that my daughters and I are the ones who took Maggie…and she’s doing just fine.”