December 12, 2000 – April 26, 2010

My beloved Rhodesian Ridgeback/Lab X Maggie was humanely euthanized last night at just over nine years of age.

From an inauspicious start as a pound puppy, Maggie flourished into a strong, independent dog who was my teacher, my guardian, my friend.

We were her fourth home at the tender age of 11weeks.  Maggie was one of a litter of eight pups – two of which (Maggie and a male littermate) ended up in two different shelters.  She was my first dog in my adult life, a pain in the ass puppy, an incredibly smart dog and a fine teacher to me.  As an adolescent she started exhibiting some troubling behaviour that led me to find out more about dogs and dog behaviour and ultimately led me to the teachings of Suzanne Clothier.  It was Maggie who was the catalyst to my journey of becoming a professional dog trainer and for that I am forever grateful.

Maggie taught me very well to listen to you dog.  Always clear in her communication – she let me know in no uncertain terms if she thought I was being unfair.  Another valuable lesson learned – that of looking for underlying health issues when behaviours change.  Maggie was diagnosed with thyroid disease – a contributing factor in her intolerance of other dogs. That and the fact that I ‘overdid’ the dog park – it really wasn’t her thing and finally I listened to her.  We changed our routine and she settled into enjoying life, our hikes in the woods, mousing in the fields.

She kindly accepted the addition of a German Shepherd pup and then an annoying persistent little Beagle.  In the last couple of years Maggie and Lewis the Beagle became fast friends. Lewis taking liberties that no other dog would be permitted to do. I regret that I never got video footage of Maggie and Lewis playing.

Yesterday I was home earlier than usual after completing my first aid exam.  Maggie refused to eat her first meal of the day – an unusual event for a food hound. She then had some unproductive vomiting and laid down in Bronson’s kennel (something she had never done before).  I checked her gums which were very pale, heart rate had increased and she was obviously uncomfortable.  I suspected bloat and rushed her to the emergency clinic.  Initial x-rays showed a large (grapefruit sized) mass near her spleen that was bleeding – hemangiosarcoma was suspected. Options presented were surgery or euthanasia.  We opted to do more diagnostics before making a decision – ultrasound and chest x-rays to check for metastases.  While not definitive, there were actually two masses involving the spleen as well as possible metastases on her lungs.  With surgery offering a poor prognosis (one to three months), a dog that was obviously in pain and when asked let me know she was done – Maggie was eased from this life with my daughter Jennifer and I holding her in our arms.

I am thankful that what were now Maggie’s final days were spent doing what she loved to do – hiking in the woods and trying to dig up mice.  In fact we had been out for a two hour hike the night before with no indication that anything was wrong.

It will take some time to adjust to life without Maggie. She has left in her wake quite a legacy.  Anyone that has come to me for dog training, for help with troubled dogs ultimately has Maggie to thank.  For that, for leading me to my friend and teacher Suzanne Clothier, for being my buddy – thanks Mags – you were one of a kind!!

Run free with your buddy Aime across the rainbow bridge.

Sadly,

Suzanne W.