Sweet Maggie is a wonderful example of dogs and humans teaching and learning together.

Maggie spent the first ten years of her life with a man who adopted her as a puppy from PAWS in Lynwood. When her best friend died suddenly, Maggie’s whole world turned upside down: her friend was no longer physically with her, she spent several days alone in the house with her friend’s body, and then she had to leave the only home she’d ever known. She was so stressed her skin was raw and bleeding and the confusion and sadness in her eyes was clearly visible.

But, in spite of all she’d been through, when we first met Maggie and told her she was welcome in our home she wagged her tail and smiled at us. We don’t have tails to wag, but we hugged her and smiled back. The first order of business was a bath and haircut, which she seemed to enjoy. (We had no idea about her breed when we first saw her because she was so shaggy, but I’ve had years of experience clipping schnauzers so she ended up looking like—and actually was—a schnauzer.) Next, we took a trip to the vet to see what could be done about her skin issues, and to take a closer look at her rear legs and back, which seemed to bother her.

With a change of diet and the absence of stress, her skin issues cleared up. X-rays revealed the ligaments in both rear knees were torn and her back was riddled with arthritis. The appropriate medications were prescribed and Maggie began to feel much better. We knew she might not be with us a long time because of her back and knees, but we know … as did Maggie … that it’s only the moment that counts.

During the almost two years that she was with us Maggie made every moment count. She loved going to the beach every morning and even though she walked like a bow-legged cowboy, sometimes she even tried to run with the other dogs. The beach walk was even better on days when there were stray crab legs just waiting for her. She never ate them; she just walked very proudly with a leg remnant hanging out of her mouth. Maggie’s other favorite things were riding in the truck, meeting new people, sleeping on the bed, barking at the dogs on the TV, eating (especially bunny poop) and just hanging out in the yard and on the deck. She was always fully present, enjoying every moment of her new life. She was a very willing student when it came to learning how to enjoy a second chance at happiness.

Maggie the teacher taught the value of:  determination, trust, letting go of sadness and replacing it with joy, unfailing optimism, and she gave new meaning to the phrase, “It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.”

For some reason the word “grace” comes to mind when I think of Maggie even though she was anything but graceful in the typical sense of the word. There was, however, a sense of grace about her that was very appealing. We loved her. We’ll miss her. And we thank her for sharing a part of her life with us.