Maggie’s Story

I’m terrible at keeping surprises a secret. So, I didn’t want to blog until we officially had our new puppy girl, Maggie.

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A week ago on November 16th, we drove to McClure, PA and picked up the most gorgeous, most loving and happiest nine-week old golden retriever puppy. It really was love at first sight. No, really. I saw her picture online earlier in the week, sent Peter an email that said, “Puppy!!! Peter I love her” with the link to her picture. Then, when we were there, she came up to Peter, sat and looked up to him while he was leaning down and she gave him so much love and so many puppy kisses. If we didn’t already know it before, we knew this beauty was meant to be our girl.

We talked with the seller and, in hindsight, I realize how shady the ordeal was…we didn’t receive a receipt, we didn’t receive any papers, and the seller said she was selling “Majesty” for a friend. We didn’t care; we loved her and knew we’d give her a good home and all the love in the world.

Before going to get her, we had tossed around different names and kept coming back to Maggie. It sounded like Majesty (sort of) and it went really well with Mollie, our chihuahua’s name. Maggie and Mollie, our perfect little M&M.

On the drive home, Maggie sat curled in my lap the entire ride and I fell even more in love with this perfect little puppy. She was, perfect. She had the exact coloring we wanted and the perfect mix of playful puppy with the gentleness of the golden breed. Peter and I have talked for YEARS about wanting a golden baby. Before we bought our house, Peter and I had joked that the next day after we had a house, he’d come home with a golden puppy. Four months and five days after closing on our house, we did indeed bring our golden puppy into our home and into our hearts.

We took Maggie to the vet on Sunday and she had some minor puppy issues – nothing the medicine wouldn’t fix. We were thrilled that our girl appeared healthy and the things that weren’t healthy, were an easy fix. She had a very rough Sunday night with the medicine and I feel guilty to say that we questioned our decision to bring her home. Not because we didn’t love her – we did – but because I thought she would wake up our neighbor, or that she would give my mom a hard time during the day.

Monday through Wednesday were great days! She did fairly well at my mom’s house, I took her for a walk each day during lunch, she commuted to work with me and everyone who met her fell instantly in love with our adorable puppy. She had these beautiful puppy eyes! And her little puppy eyelashes. Someone please find me anything cuter in the world than a golden puppy – I dare you to try. (And I can say that without being a bad dog mom because I didn’t see Mollie girl as a puppy; she was a year and a half when she bounced into my life.)

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My little commuting buddy

While at home, Maggie began to show us parts of her personality. Sweet and loving, as she liked being held like a baby. My absolute favorite moments with Maggie were when I would hold her like a baby with her snout by my neck. She would fall asleep then somehow flip her little head over, backside down, onto my face then continue to roll her head/part of her body onto the other side of my neck. We called it the puppy scarf. Silly and playful, as she loved nothing more than chewing on the tassels of our area rug, chewing on the table, chewing on the woodwork, chewing on my wedding rings…she was quite the chewer! We joked that she was going to think her name was “No” because we told her no a lot and then would replace whatever she was chewing on with one of her toys: a red and green rope, a leopard print stuffed animal, a red and green ball, a red and green rubber ball (it’s close to Christmas; all toys are red and green it seems) and her favorite pink and white “puppy love” toy from our good friends Michelle and Jason.

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Me and my puppy scarf

Nosy little sister, as she was constantly following Mollie around and coaxing Mollie to play. While they weren’t the best of friends (yet! It was only a matter of time before Maggie would have cracked Mollie’s code), Mollie did enjoy Maggie’s body heat. Mollie would be under the blanket on the couch and Maggie would lay on top of Mollie over the blanket. Right now, both girls were about the same weight. Maggie weighed 7.52 pounds on Sunday and on Thursday, she weighed 7.3 pounds.

We loved her and her silly personality. She was like a defiant child sometimes. When we would tell her no, if she was REALLY enjoying whatever she was doing, she would bark at us then look to play. She was also really smart! In the few days that we had her, she was already learning (I swear!) to go to the door when she needed to go outside. When she was at my mom’s house, though she didn’t have training, she used the puppy pad twice. Such a smart girl. Smart girl, beautiful girl…but she had some very unique puppy breath. So much so that I asked the vet on Sunday if that was normal. The vet asked what was wrong with Maggie’s breath and I said, well she smells like a skunk. We may or may not have called her Skunk Breath. All in love.

Actually, there were times I called her my Klutzy Skunk or Clumsy Skunk. She hadn’t grown into her body so she was awful clumsy and it was amazingly adorable. She would bound off the couch and kinda spread out as she landed, she would try and jump on the couch but couldn’t quite jump yet. On our Wednesday walk, she fell into a pile of leaves and let out the saddest yelps but she was fine. Silly girl.

Then Wednesday came and so did the beginning of Maggie’s symptoms. My mom called me and told me Maggie had diarrhea. I was worried but not super concerned because I knew diarrhea was a side effect of the medication. Then it happened again…for a total of five times in a 24 hour period. We were later told this was her “shedding” her symptoms as that’s what happens in puppies with parvo. I called the vet and they said we could do a drop off on Thursday morning and they would take a look at our girl.

When I dropped her off, I was worried about her being there all day by herself, but like I said, everyone loved her and we were assured she would be up front so she could see people. Oh I wish that would have been true. One thing that hurts the most is knowing most of her last day she was in isolation by herself. Which we understand, she was extremely contagious and we would not want any other families to go through the loss of their furbabies like we have, we wish our girl could have been held and loved on all day.

I had spoke with the doctor earlier in the morning on Thursday and they said they were going to test for parvo, mainly to rule it out. Oh how I wish they had been able to rule it out. Instead, as I was driving to the bank during lunch, I learned that Maggie tested positive for parvo. A fresh wave of emotions ran through us…parvo is often deadly, but with (very) expensive treatment, sometimes puppies can survive. Sometimes. We received an estimate of $3,000-$5,000 to treat her, but with no guarantee of survival – and that estimate was before we learned everything else that was wrong with our poor puppy. Our hearts sank. We couldn’t afford that kind of treatment, but, I have no doubt that if it came down to it, we would have signed of for the Care Credit plan which helps families pay for expensive treatments for their pets. Maggie was ours and we would have tried to save her.

To see how far along her parvo was, the doctor suggested running some blood tests. This would tell us if it was likely the treatment may have worked. We were eager for those results. Since Maggie was so happy and alert, it was possible she had a chance to survive. I talked to the doctor again around 5:30pm and was told her red blood cells were low and her white cells were a little on the low side.

About 6:30 or so, Peter came home and we drove to the vet. By the tone of the doctor’s voice all day and seeing her face, I knew it wasn’t good. Can I just say – sometimes, the universe is a jerk. When we walked into PetSmart to get to the vet, there was a full-grown, happy as a clam golden retriever. Punch right to the heart.

When we got back to the vet, she explained that Maggie’s red blood cells were low and that Maggie was anemic. She also explained that our puppy also had protein leaking from her intestines into the rest of her frail body. Maggie needed a blood or plasma (forgive me, the details are a bit foggy) transfusion. The vet and the staff were so amazing. All of them felt our pain and you could tell they loved our sweet girl. With tears in all of our eyes, it was determined that the best thing to do was to end Maggie’s short, yet meaningful life. We were doing what was best for our baby but the pain of that decision is heavy and pierces our hearts more than I ever imagined.

Peter and I got to go back to the isolation ward and spend some time with Maggie. We had to put on special covers over our shoes and then had to put our feet in bleach when we left the isolation area. We hugged her, we told her we loved her, we promised we would never forget her and just marveled at her beauty. She gave us puppy kisses and looked so happy to see us. We adored that little puppy, even if she was only ours for a few days.

I know I sound dramatic, but Maggie deserved the chance for a happy, healthy life and I feel like we failed her even though we knew we had to end her suffering. She was only going to get sicker. The vet explained the end of life process and within five minutes, she was gone. Just like, she plopped her little sleepy puppy head on my chest one last time, I kissed her goodbye and she was gone.

Knowing how sick she was, it makes her happiness, love and playfulness even more remarkable. What has really sucked is that because parvo is so contagious and so awful, we’ve had to throw away or bleach anything Maggie touched. It’s like she never existed – but she did. She was so loved and it hurts we couldn’t even keep her toy, her bed, anything. I called Friday morning to see if we could get a paw print, but due to Maggie’s illness we weren’t even able to get a stamp of her paw. We also had to throw out Mollie’s toys since they played with them together. Mollie has had her toys for so long, including her favorite pink one a friend gave to her and it pained me to throw it all out.

We promised Maggie we would never forget her and we won’t. Her life mattered. She rooted herself deeply into our hearts and we cherish the time we had with her. I wanted to write down her story so that everyone else could get a glimpse into the short, but sweet life of our beautiful puppy girl. We are very grateful for the outpouring of love and kind words everyone has sent our way. We are fortunate to know so many caring, thoughtful people.

We love and miss you, Maggie.

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Sleepy, beautiful girl. September 15, 2013-November 21, 2013

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2 thoughts on “Maggie’s Story

  1. Oh, Ashley. What a beautiful and loving tribute you have written to your furry baby. She was a much loved little girl. Here’s to Maggie short, but meaningful life!

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