For the last 15 years, Christmas Day has been a mixed day of emotions for me. While the true meaning of Christmas always rings loud and clear, there is one memory that stirs within me with all sorts of emotions on every Christmas Day. December 25th, 1998 is when Meggie Sue and I stomped through 6 inches of snow walking around our 5 acres, running and throwing sticks, pretending to chase a rabbit out from under the woodpile, stopping to observe Meggie doing “the snowplow” in the new powder and just enjoying the beautiful Christmas Day of sunshine and Christmas magic. Meggie Sue was a very special lady only 11 years of age at the time. Her life was spent as a working dog for us on our last Dairy Farm west of Loveland. Meggie and I did everything together. She was such a big help to me with the cows, protected me twice from a major mishap with the breeding bulls and always stood faithfully by to help move a calf or cow anywhere I wanted it to go. Meggie Sue was a Blue Heeler/Black Lab mixed breed dog I found at the Boulder Humane Society around Christmas time in 1987. I always called her “my very smart love muffin”. I promised myself long ago that I would write a book about all the things I learned from Meggie and the wonderful events her and I experienced together. Believe me, there really is enough to fill a book easily. Meggie was an amazing dog. I hope some day I can actually take the time to document those wonderful stories.
Going back to that Christmas Day of 1998, Meggie Sue and I arrived back at the house when she came across her long time rival, a cat named Scotchy. Meggie dominated all the cats around the Dairy Farm, but Scotchy was a large male cat who wasn’t about to be intimidated by any dog. When we retired and moved off the Dairy to our home near Berthoud, Scotchy was in a field behind our house and obviously was an abandoned cat. After several days of watching Scotchy, we finally adopted him and gave him a place to stay with us as an outdoor cat. Meggie took it upon herself to keep Scotchy in line by giving him a tiny growl and a slight jump in his face as she walked by him, but Scotchy would just look calmly at Meggie and ignore her. Those 2 carried on like that for nearly 6 years. It was entertaining to watch. On that Christmas Day, Scotchy was by the back door of our house and as Meggie and I passed by him, Meggie gave him a little growl and a slight jump which never ever worked, but it became the salute from one to the other.
Meggie and I walked into the house, I removed my coat and wet boots. I heard a moaning noise which caused me to turn around and then I saw Meggie Sue was having a seizure on the floor. She was laying on her side, went into a coma and died within a few seconds in my arms. I couldn’t believe it after spending such a high quality moment with her out in the snow frolicking around like 2 kids enjoying a perfect Christmas Day. Meggie had some seizures before, CSU diagnosed it as an inoperable large brain tumor several months earlier. So while this event wasn’t a total surprise, the final moments played out as if it were some sort of a beautiful farewell plan.
A very big chunk of my heart went with Meggie Sue that day. I know many of you have gone through the same experience and no matter how many times you go through it, it never gets any easier. Losing Meggie hurt so bad I never wanted to get another dog ever again, but after two years I finally did………her name was TILDA. Tilda gave me part of her heart and once again a large chunk of my heart left with her when she died. It was Tilda who managed to teach me that with every new dog comes new adventures and experiences. All of them much different then than the last dog, yet it all seems to fit together into what feels like some marvelous plan of life. After Tilda, Sissy-Biskit came into my life and this shy and super sensitive little dog has brought about a bunch of brand new rewards and wonderful experiences. Again, much different than Meggie Sue or Tilda brought to me, yet it all fits together like pieces of a puzzle. Sis brings to me things that Meggie or Tilda couldn’t. It is like they all have been discussing this back and forth between them with a lesson plan of what the old man needs to learn this time.
A dear friend of mine named Linda S. of Utah sent me a birthday present in November. This present is most fitting to mention here as it was a wall mural of a phrase that says it all:
“It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them, and every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.”
I want to thank Linda S. for this mural as it appears to explain exactly what has been going on in our hearts as dogs become more and more of our lives. We do end up being better people for it.
So on this Christmas morning, my thoughts are with Meggie Sue. 15 years ago today, we shared one of those very sweet and very sad days. I still have all of our memories of us together and pray I can keep them forever. She lived 11 years with me so have 26 years of remembering those great times with Meggie Sue. In dog years, that is a very long time. Thanks so much, Meggie, for finally steering me to Tilda that day at Longmont Humane Society who in turn steered me to Sis-Biskit almost immediately after Tilda left. I know beyond any doubt that Tilda still lives on through Sis every day. Meggie Sue continues to be the Matriarch of all of us. It is simply a fact that it is her way of doing things. Thank you, dear girl. You are never forgotten and Christmas Day will always be your special day with me!!
‘Til we meet again!