“This is Maggie,” I say, pointing to the picture taped to the side of my computer. Some people have photos of their kids, families. I have none of the former and few of the latter. Even fewer that I actually like.
“That’s Maggie. She’s my dog.”
That is an outright lie.
She is not my dog.
I am her person.
“I adopted her about two years ago,” I tell anyone who will listen. I pull pictures up on my phone like a parent pulling school photos out of a wallet.
But no, that’s not right either. She adopted me. Her big brown eyes conned their way into my heart and my apartment (which is also now hers rather than mine. She is kind enough to allow me to still sleep in the bed, which is also now hers, as evidenced by the coat of fur my comforter now wears.)
She is a mutt – the most ridiculous-looking mutt. Her proportions are all wrong, and she cannot sit properly because her legs are too short for her long, long body. Her toenails don’t curl under, so they are constantly too long. Her toes are webbed, but she
cannot will not swim. We tried once. She still hasn’t forgiven me, and it took two of us to pull her back onto the dock – her little T-rex legs were too short to reach it.
Maggie Mae had three homes and at least one litter of puppies before she adopted me. She was pregnant the first time she was brought to the shelter. She found a home, but their other dog wanted to eat her. She went home again, but her inconsistent house-brokenness got her sent back.
She’s still not entirely housebroken.
We have good days and bad days.
I think she was abused. Any decibel higher than a normal speaking voice sends her rolling over into a submissive position. No living thing has ever looked so hurt as when I yelled at her for eating my red shoes.
I don’t yell at her much anymore.
She likes to snuggle, and if you stop petting her before she’s done being petted, she lets you know. She makes strange noises – moans and groans and whimpers and cries, usually for no reason. She grumbles and sings. It’s all very bizarre.
Sometimes, she snores.
She is afraid of cats and vacuum cleaners, but not thunder or lightning or the freight train that rolls right outside our apartment. She loves every single living thing she meets (aside from the cats).
If her papers are correct, she turned six last October. It scares me that she’s that old already.
She has taught me patience. She has taught me to take joy in small, quiet moments. She is one of the few constants in my life.
She has taught me unconditional love. Not just how to give it, but how to get it. I have smacked her nose for eating shoes pants books pillows and she has run to me – the one who caused the pain – for comfort.
She lets me bury my face in her black coat when I need to hide from the world. She has lain on the floor and licked my tears as I’ve questioned every decision I’ve made in my life.
She has made an irrevocable pawprint in my life and on my heart, and I am forever a better person for having walked into Animal Friends that day.
She is, right now, curled on the left corner of my bed, where she sleeps and waits for me. There is a 50-50 chance she has used my bedroom floor as a bathroom. But it doesn’t matter, because she’ll leap into my arms when I get home, and I will remember how dearly I love this dog and how I cannot imagine my life without her.
She is not a rescue dog.