Maggie 4

I first saw Maggie on an advert online at 8am on the 19th December 2008. She was being sold for £100 because she was no use to the backyard breeder as all her puppies had died (she was bred at 7 months old). He stated in his advert that “the dog needs to go asap as my ex-girlfriend is beating it up”. I called him straight away; I simply had to help this girl. He told me that someone else had already offered him a motorcycle helmet and a signet ring but if I got there first with cash then I could have her. I finished work at 4pm and those hours at work were so long; I was frantic that she would be gone by the time I got there.

My first glimpse of Maggie was as she walked across a dark car park, skinny and frightened, unsure what was happening and very afraid. She had no collar, and no lead, and cowered as she walked beside the person who had chosen to breed and then discard her. Despite being so afraid, she got in my car with no fuss and I could tell instantly that Maggie – as she came to be known – was a sweet, gentle and very special girl. My intention was to rehabilitate her, have her spayed and vaccinated and then find her a forever home. However, it took me all of 15 minutes to realise that I had found my doggy soul-mate and that our lives were to be lived together.

Maggie and Me
Maggie and me

I had to put her into kennels with my good friend Heather until I was able to find somewhere else to live that allowed dogs. Maggie was the most wonderful dog I could ever have the honour of sharing my life with. She was a wonderful foster sister to all my fosters, and her calm, playful, accepting and gentle personality worked wonders with the frightened souls who arrived confused and sad. That backyard breeder gave up the most amazing companion that day in a dark car park, and although I despise him for what he put her (and many others) through, I will be forever grateful that I met my doggy soul-mate that night.

Maggie and I walked side by side and were together for just under 7 years. We were best friends. We walked together, had fun together; she made me laugh, I rubbed her tummy and scratched her chin; she comforted me when I cried. We slept together at night, we cuddled on the sofa, and we were always there for each other. Maggie loved the snow, and she loved the sun; she loved catching snowballs as much as she loved sunbathing. She loved her food, and her “sweeties”, and that she couldn’t help wagging her tail when I said her name always gave away when she was pretending to be asleep when she didn’t want to go out in the cold for pee pees. Maggie was so loved, more than I can describe, and she loved back in a way that made me feel like the luckiest person in the world. She was loved by everyone who met her, especially her gran and gramps; she loved to go on her holidays to her gran and gramp’s house, as her Gran Flora always spoiled her!

To know the love of an animal is to know true love, unconditional love, and a devotion that is unwavering. It tears my heart apart that all I have now are memories, but in the darkest of moments I remind myself that the only reason I feel Maggie’s absence so much is because I was so blessed to know her presence. Maggie truly was – is – the most special soul I have ever met and I am honoured to be her friend.

On the 24th October 2015, my beloved friend Maggie died after a short illness, in very tragic circumstances. She had been diagnosed with lung cancer 10 days before, and had undergone an operation to remove the tumour. Unfortunately, the primary tumor in her lung had metastasised into her oesophagus, and its removal meant a feeding peg had to be put in for 10 days to allow her oesophagus to heal and to reduce the risk of infection. She was recovering well, and enjoying walkies with the vet nurses, she was sitting up and alert, and enjoying lots of attention. After many phone calls to update me, on Saturday evening I was beside myself as I expected to be going to collect her from hospital on Sunday morning, having not seen her since Wednesday. On Saturday evening at 5pm I received a call saying she had deteriorated drastically and that she had the worst case of peritonitis ever seen in the vet school. Her feeding peg had become dislodged, and the feed had filled her abdominal cavity. A frantic operation was carried out to try to save her life, but just before 8pm on Saturday 24th October 2015, on the telephone, I had to make the decision not to let her wake up from her anaesthetic, such was the extent of the damage. I didn’t have time to be with her, I couldn’t be with her. I promised Maggie I would never leave  her, but she died without me being there, and that will hurt until my last breath. I promised I would never leave her, and I did. I had to – she was in intensive care in hospital and I wasn’t allowed to visit her – but she didn’t know that.

On the way to say goodbye to Maggie the day after she died, as my dad drove and my mum and I held hands, crying, still in shock and overcome and numbed by grief, I turned to mum and said, “The Maggie Fleming Animal Hospice”. She nodded, and smiled. I vowed then to do this in her honour, in her name, to provide a safe place for abandoned animals who otherwise would have no where to go to spend their final days, somewhere they would know they were loved, somewhere they would know kindness, somewhere they didn’t need to be afraid, somewhere they knew was home and they would never be alone, somewhere they knew they could relax and take comfort as their end neared.

I couldn’t keep my promise to Maggie to always be with her, to never leave her alone especially at the end, so I vowed that in her name I will be there for as many others as I can when they need a friend as their time here comes to an end and as their light goes out. Maggie is my soul-mate, my friend, and my inspiration. I will love her forever, and miss her more than I thought it was possible to miss someone. But I will do all I can in her memory, and hope that I can do justice to the kindest, most wonderful dog I have ever met.

This is for you, my darling Maggie.