Monday, August 25, 2008

Puppy All Gone

On Saturday night I went out for dinner and drinks with a friend. I returned a little after 10:30 to a very somber Brian. He had just received a phone call from his brother that Maggie, the yellow Labrador retriever the Nash family had grown up with, had just died.

We knew Maggie had been sick (or maybe just old) for the past few months. Brian's parents had previous arrangements to go to Chicago this weekend so instead of leaving Maggie with strangers or at the vet for the weekend they asked Brian's brother Kevin and his family if they would watch her while they were away.

On Saturday night, just before Kevin and his wife were heading off to bed, Kevin let Maggie out the front door to go to the bathroom. When she was finished she walked up the front steps and her back legs collapsed. Maggie had had enough. Her old body was tired and weary and she decided to let go of life right then and there.

Kevin, stricken with grief himself, had to put on a brave hat and make phone calls to his siblings and, most difficult, to his parents on vacation in Chicago.

I never had a pet growing up so this whole pet death thing is a little new to me. And having lost plenty of real people in my life it's difficult for me to find the right emotions or even the right thing to say to someone who has lost an animal. But nonetheless I know that Maggie was loved and having loved and lost is emotional no matter if it's a bird, a pig, a person or a sad-eyed yellow lab with plenty of grey to show her age.

It will be very weird walking into Brian's parent's house for the first time without Maggie's bark to greet us. But I think what I'll miss most about Maggie will be William's interaction with her. As you've heard me say before William is in love with dogs and he associates Nana and Papa's house with being able to see and play with a puppy.

Last night Brian and I were out for dinner when he received a phone call from his dad. His parents were at Kevin's house to take Maggie's body back home. Brian's dad asked him if he wanted to see Maggie one last time. Of course, we'll be right over.

Brian said, "William, you want to go see Nana and Papa?"

"Puppy?" William asked.

"No, buddy," Brian replied, "puppy all gone."

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