View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


The end is almost here for my beloved Maggie.

It's been coming for a while. To be honest, I was afraid that she wouldn't survive last summer. She was having a harder and harder time walking. Her hind legs and hips were going - a problem with older German Shepherds (she's a Shepherd/Labrador mix). She's 14 +.

Yet she made it through summer, to Thanksgiving, to Christmas, and into the New Year. But getting worse. And starting to have incontinence problems.

Today, she could barely walk. I took her out for a short morning walk. She kept falling. She stumbled through the house. When I came home, I had to carry her out to the yard, then back in. She ate, stumbled into the living room, fell down, got up, moved a little further, fell again.

She's resting now.

Maggie was a City Pound rescue. She was about one year old when I spotted her in a pen there in the spring of 1995. Beautiful, and so gentle. She had me when she licked my hand through the bars. My wife was grumbling about getting a dog, but when I took her to meet Maggie, she melted.

Maggie's always been a good dog, dealing with cats and children with patience, but barking mightily whenever any stranger approached the house. And the Lab in her loved water. We even got her a kiddie pool for the yard . She used to jump in, lap up some water, run around the yard, then jump in again.

Two summers ago she would gingerly get in the pool. Last summer, we didn't put it out. She was no longer capable of getting in.

Maggie used to wait each day for me to come home. She'd hear my car down the street and head to the door, all excited. Now, we can walk in the house and she won't hear or notice us until we walk right up to her, and sometimes not until we pet her.

I've been praying that she would simply fall asleep one day and not wake up.

I fear that will not be the case.

Her limp is so bad. Maybe it was the icy conditions we've had lately. Maybe something broke or is dislocated. Maybe something's just strained. I don't know. She doesn't seem to be in pain. She eats. She just has a hard time walking.

We used to take long walks in the morning and at night all around the neighborhood. We'd go out in the yard and chase each other. In the winter, I used to toss snowballs in the air and she jump up and catch them. And sometimes I took her for rides in the car, her head out the window as we'd head to a park or a wooded area for her to wander around in and sniff. Our trips often ended with ice cream cones - one for each of us.

I'm giving her one more night. Maybe by tomorrow the the leg will be a bit better. Maybe she has a few days or weeks or months more in her.

Or maybe tomorrow she will need to be carried out to the yard and back in again.

If so, after school tomorrow I'll call the vet.

This night is more for me than for her, I know. I hope she simply falls asleep.
Maybe she'd like some ice cream now.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cried readng about you dog. I had to put my dog to sleep a year ago. I found her at the Rochester Humane Society at Lolly Pop Farm eight years ago. She was only eight weeks old - part lab and something else. She was a stray so we didn't know what actual breeds her parents were. I still miss her very much.

4:50 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Sorry about your dog. It is a painful thing. Dogs are part of the family.

Maggie enjoyed the ice cream last night. This morning, she moved a little better, but we could not go for a walk - and ice storm didn't help. We just went out in the yard. She came in, ate some breakfast, then staggered into the living room to her "bed" (a blanket next to the couch). But she did walk.

I still don't know what's going to happen later. Or maybe tomorrow. Or next week.

6:22 AM  
Blogger Rich Leonardi said...

C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain:

"If, nevertheless, the strong conviction which we have of a real, though doubtless rudimentary, self-hood in the higher animals, and specially in those we tame, is not an illusion, their destiny demands a somewhat deeper consideration. The error we must avoid is that of considering them in themselves. Man is to be understood only in his relation to God. The beasts are to be understood only in their relation to man and, through man, to God...

"Now it will be seen that, in so far as the tame animal has a real self or personality, it owes this almost entirely to its master. If a good sheepdog seems 'almost human' that is because a good shepherd has made it so... I am now going to suggest-though with great readiness to be set right by real theologians-that there may be a sense... in which those beasts that attain a real self are *in* their masters. That is to say, you must not think of a beast by itself, and call that a personality and then inquire whether God will raise and bless that. You must take the whole context in which the beast acquires its selfhood- namely 'The goodman and the goodwife ruling their children and their beasts in the good homestead.'

My condolences, Lee.

6:14 PM  
Blogger Esther said...

I'm really sorry about Maggie, Lee. She reminds me so much of our old family dog Bronco, a black lab mix. He finally had to be put to sleep after 17 years. Losing a pet is so painful...Again, my condolences.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Here it is Thursday. I have not taken Mggie to the vet. The walking improved - a little - though we can no longer go for even the short walks we used to. I lift her up and down the stairs, but she is able to stagger out the door and into the yard to do what needs to be done. She just ate a good dinner after a few minutes in the year.

I'm delaying, I know. But she was so happy to see me when I walked into the living room.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Esther said...

I don't know how Maggie is today but she is in my prayers. I started a new blog for prayers for our pets in need. and posted her name.

7:41 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Esther - how thoughtful - thank you. And I do like that prayer on the prayer blog.

Maggie is stable. She can still walk, though very unsteadily. I help her up and down the back stairs, but I haven't had to carry her in a couple of days. Out back, she falls frequently. A few times I have had to help her stand - the back legs just don't work well.

I still think it's soon. One day she will not be able to stand.

7:04 AM  

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