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Travels With Maggie

            “Soon or late, every dog’s master’s memory becomes a graveyard; peopled by wistful little furry ghosts that creep back unbidden, at times, to a semblance of their olden lives.” – Albert Payson  Terhune.          

Maggie on a trail in the Tonto Basin -- Photo by Pat Bean

  When I came across the above quote, it moved me to remember all the dogs that have made my life better.

            There was Curley, my grandmother’s stand-offish white spitz, who once jumped out of a car at a grocery store and wouldn’t let anyone approach him. They came and got me out of my second-grade school class, and he came right up to me.

            Blackie is the second dog I remember, a cocker-mix, who shared my childhood tears of injustice as we hid away in the center of a large hedge in the side yard.

            Tex, a beautiful big gray weimaraner, whom was inherited from my ex-husband’s dying grandfather, came next. Tex could jump the backyard fence from a standing position, and gave my young toddlers horsie rides.  

             Two dogs named Rev, for reveille came next. They were loving family dogs, more attached to my kids than me, although I was the one who fed them.

Albert Payson Terhune with one of his collies

            Then there was a period of time, following a divorce and several moves, when I didn’t have a dog. It was a busy time in my life and I didn’t know how much I missed having a canine companion until Peaches came into my life.

            I got her from a young couple who were moving when she was about five years old. It was instant love and bonding between the two of us. She never wanted out of my sight, and it gave her great joy to watch over and please me.

            She was my hiking companion, instantly by me knee when anyone approached on the trail, but otherwise circling around, seeing the scenery with her nose. And if there was a group of us, she felt it her duty to keep us all together. She would run up to the  leaders and urge them to slow down, and then back she would go to hurry the laggards among us along.

            The last long hike she and I took together was Negro Bill Canyon, a five mile hike to an arch near Moab. It was a very slow hike as I was recovering from foot surgery at the time and Peaches was blind.

            A few weeks later, when she and I were out on a short walk, she gave out. I had to carry her home. I babied her, cooked chicken and rice for her meals, and watched over her for another few months before it came time for me to bid her good-bye.

            Maggie, my current black cocker spaniel traveling companion, came next. I rescued her from a shelter when she was a little over a year old.

 She’s as different from Peaches as a bluebird is from a raven. She’s a whimpy hiker, and she thinks it’s my duty to protect her.

Maggie in her favorite spot in our RV -- Photo by Pat Bean, July 2006

She’s my boss, not the other way around. And everyone knows it

            And now she’s 13, gray around the muzzle and slowed by age. Time has become our enemy. Her life expectancy is shorter than mine. And as I acknowledge this, the tears flow on this page.

            Albert Payson Terhune, whose words inspired this blog, was my favorite author as a child. I read all his books, which are mostly about dogs. He was especially partial to Collies. His first, and probably best known book, is “Lad: A Dog,” published in 1919 and still in print today. .  

Who would have thought that the words of this favorite author from my past would return and now haunt me.

            Thankful the good memories of my pets, while not obliterating the pain of loss, outweigh it.

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