Monday, February 11, 2013

Dear Maddy,

It's been one month since we said goodbye to our 4-legged girl, the little black pup that stole our hearts on a farm in Independence, IA.

Seriously, how could this face not melt your heart? 
Our house is so quiet, even with a rambunctious two year old running around.  But slowly, over the past few weeks, we've accepted the quiet changes around here.  It's funny because I still find myself thinking I heard her shake her collar or trot down the hall.  And more than a few times, I've sadly mistaken the black pillow sham heaped on our bed for a lazy sleeping black dog.  We've tucked away all of her things, Mason did that right away thankfully.  We vacuumed less and less dog hair-- something I never thought would make me sad.  But I still can't bring myself to vacuum off our comforter-- another thing I'd never hear myself say.

Charlie & I stepped outside and took a walk without Maddy, which surprised me at how difficult that was.  We've walked without her before, but the times were few and far between, usually happening after she had already been walked.   Tears fell as I turned every corner on that walk-- for absent was the familiar tug on my right side, signaling which way we were headed on that particular day.  The weather hasn't really allowed us to venture outside much since losing her, and I know that walking will always be something that reminds me of my four-legged exercise partner.

Aside from that, each day has gotten a little easier.  But when I sit down and really think about Maddy, I'm still a little overwhelmed with emotion.   Lately, I've really been thinking about the souls whom I've been lucky enough to love, and what I've learned from them, regardless of the duration of our relationship.  Although it's probably a little weird, I feel like I learned a few things from our sweet girl.  Since I never took the time to thank her (and she never had the long term memory to remember even if I had), I'm taking the time to write it now.

My dear Maddy,

First of all, did you know that your real name, the name on all of your paperwork, is Karma?  As in, Good Karma, for having found what felt like the perfect fit for what was to be our family.  And also as in the first three letters of my name combined with the first two letters of Mason's.  Talk about perfect fit, right? We ended up calling you Maddy because we both love Madison, Wisconsin and talked about how great it would be to raise a family there.  And here we are in Grundy Center......

Anyway, when I became a dog owner in the spring of 2003, I had no idea what was in store for me.  I had a feeling that I'd become forever attached to you, and hoped that we'd have the picturesque relationships of dog & owner that can be found in the pages of an LLBean catalog.  And honey, you did not disappoint.  In fact, not only did I become attached to you, but my heart became forever intertwined with your sweet soul.  Love is a messy thing my dear.  Even when it comes to loving dogs.  Maybe perhaps, especially when it comes to loving dogs.  For the love between people seems to be fleeting, conditional, always fluctuating, always dependent upon circumstances and moods and seasons.  But the love between a person and a dog seems constant.  It's never-wavering, it's unconditional, and constant-- even when the person involved is going through tough circumstances, grouchy moods, or dark seasons-- at least one soul (that of the dog) remains bright eyed and loving.  And that, my good girl, was totally you.

Since I had never owned a dog before, I knew that I'd learn a lot from you-- this tiny puppy, who clung to my forearms whenever I picked you up (that, in addition to your calm presence--ha, you tricked us!-- is what actually made us pick you out of the litter).  But rather than just teaching me about duties involved in owning a dog, and the art of picking up poop in a Target sack, you Maddy, taught me so much more.  You taught me how to care for another being.  You taught me how much joy can be found out there in the simplest things.  And more than anything, you taught me how to love in a way I never really knew existed.  I will never forget the love you gave me so unconditionally. I will always remember the special relationship that the two of us had, for you were my first true dog love-- and I will forever hold you in an incredibly special place deep within my heart.  

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn these life lessons.  If I could treat people half as kindly as you treated others, I might win a Noble Peace prize.  If we people could just treat others the way you Labradors do, we may not lead the technology race, but we would definitely be leaps and bounds ahead in the love/forgiveness/compassion department.  Among millions of other things, here are a few of the lessons I learned from you:

* Everyone should spend some time outside every single day.

* Yelling accomplishes little.  And the soul being yelled at probably won't change because of the yelling.

* Don't spend too much money on nice undies...they might suddenly go missing.

* Everyone deserves a welcome home party upon returning home.  Even if it's only been a five minute absence.

One of her last evenings as my sous chef, underfoot in the kitchen. 
* There's not much better than watching a dog run off leash, exploring smells & sounds, on a crisp spring or autumn day.

* No matter how hard you clean, sweep, mop, dust, or vacuum, dog hair will still end up in the refrigerator.

* The dog hair that ends up in the refrigerator and may end up in your food doesn't taste that bad.

* No electric blanket can heat up the bed like a 75lb dog.

* Take time for naps.

* Persevere. This might be the time they tell you "yes".

* Don't be afraid to get dirty.  Really dirty.

* You can learn a lot from a person by smelling them.

* One man's crumbs are one dog's delicacy.

* Do what makes you happy.  Even if others look at you like you're crazy.

* If the overwhelming urge to love someone strikes, just go for it.

* Greet everyone with a friendly sniff.  A smile would work too.

* Always acknowledge the people in a room you pass through.

* Little things, like a quick scratch behind the ears, (or smile, or wink) can make someone's moment.

* Forgive.  Forget.  Move on.  Keep loving.

* The weather is always good enough for a walk.  Always.
My last walk with these two together. 
To non-dog-people, the following probably sounds crazy, but we will never forget you--our first "baby"
~Love, Mama

Love at first sight.  I"ve never noticed the fence rails in the background of this picture before-- must have been taken before we even pulled out of the lane.  She sat on my lap the whole way home, snuggling, probably scared to death about who these strange people were, taking her away from her mama.   I promised her I'd love her and take good care of her, just like I promised her almost ten years later on that cold January evening, when we both knew the end was in sight.  And hopefully, she knew that we did our best, and couldn't have asked for a better companion with whom to spend ten beautiful years.  

1 comment:

  1. Aw, this is sweet. I love the pictures. And this is my favorite line:

    * Persevere. This might be the time they tell you "yes".