Chewing on a rawhide stickIn 1995, I bought a puppy as a present for my wife, who was out of town for a few weeks. I wanted her to have a companion around the house while I was at work or on business trips, someone who could bark and warn her when there were noises in the yard.

I named her “Maggie”, and I set out to train her on the basics of living in a house.

When my wife got home, Maggie and I met her at the airport.  I was disappointed to learn that she and I did not share the same enthusiasm for pet ownership.  Making matters worse, Maggie seemed to be confused about this strange woman who had just shown up and taken all of my attention.  This battle lasted for a couple of years.  Unfortunately, the house-training exercises also took a couple of years.

Maggie stayed with us, and she eventually learned the difference between carpet and grass.  She learned her place in the family. She became a constant companion. She reminded us to go outside and get some fresh air.

She moved with us to new places, including a year and a half in Singapore.  She watched as our family grew, and she dutifully accepted her demotion with each new child.  She slept on our bed, keeping us warm on cold winter nights, and reminding us not to sleep too late on Saturday mornings. She also kept our kitchen floor clean.

As she got older, she became less interested in fetching tennis balls and going for walks, preferring to stay inside, and enjoying her quality nap time. But every day, when I came into the driveway, she would look out the window to see who it was, and she would greet me as I came inside.

A few months ago, she started showing the inevitable signs of age. I could sneak in without her hearing me. She sometimes needed help going up and down stairs.  She fell off of the bed a couple of times, and so was demoted again — to a floor-sleeper.  She started wearing diapers at night.

Shortly after her 16th bithday, Maggie grew weak, not wanting to get up to go outside any more. The vet confirmed that she only had a few more days with us. So I stayed with her at night, comforting her while she slept.  And today, I worked from home so I could be next to her.  This morning, while I worked, she quietly slipped away.

For 16 years, Maggie was a good dog, a close friend, and an essential member of the family. We are grateful that she chose to stay with us for all of that time. She will be sorely missed by all of us.

More photos of Maggie are in our photo gallery.