Saying goodbye to a family member

I lost my best friend within the last hour. We ended our chocolate lab’s battle with cancer this morning. Sadly, Maggie fell right within the window of anticipated life expectancy from the date of diagnosis of lymphosarcoma.

Without reiterating the details, we started chemotherapy last week but evidently it was too late. Although she acted entirely normal for several days following the chemo session, it became apparent over the last 48-60 hours that the battle was rapidly being lost. Maggie wasn’t well enough to have her second round of chemo Wednesday. Our wish to not lose her didn’t outweigh the toll the cancer was taking or allowing her to leave us before losing what little quality of life remained. We owed her at least that after a dozen years of unconditional love.

Fittingly, if not karmically, Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May,” part of the inspiration for her name, is playing on the radio as I write this. Maggie was our youngest family member in human years but around 90 in dog years. I’m not ashamed to call her my best friend. She was my unwavering and unflappable companion for nearly a quarter of my life and brought joy to it 98 percent of the time.

People can learn a lot from dogs. A lot about themselves. I often think of a refrigerator magnet we bought years ago with a picture of a chocolate lab on it. It says: “May I always be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.” Looking in her eyes last night and in the minutes before her death this morning, I believe I met that standard and her needs today.

I don’t invariably live up to expectations. Maggie always did.

The morning sun when it’s in your face really shows your age
But that don’t worry me none, in my eyes you’re everything

“Maggie May,” Rod Stewart, Every Picture Tells A Story

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