Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Storytime with Lady Maggie Moo

So after last week's heavy Thursday (all is well here; all computers remain on lock down, appropriate and positive follow-up conversations have been had, a mama's night out with friends has been enjoyed), I thought we'd turn to Lady Magnolia Jane. Also known as Maggie, Maggles, Maggie Moo, Maggie Moodle, Magna Doodle, Noodle, Gorgeous Perfect Angel Puppy Dog, she wants you to know she loves you and thinks you're doing great.

Maggie has been with us for just under 5 months and she is just the most magnificent and majestic of canines.

Her scars, skin, teeth, and vet records tell a sad story we've pieced together over the last few months, but her smiles lift her ears and our hearts and I'm so glad she's now ours to spoil.

We know that Maggie was a puppy mill mama. The industry that breeds purebred dogs to sell for thousands to those not looking far behind the curtain rests on the often neglected backs of the mama dogs. Kept in a metal box (her teeth are ground down into her gums from chewing the bars); badly bitten by one of the male dogs used to breed her (a bite left untreated to slowly heal on its own, resulting in the large, ugly scar she has on her back hip); her tail broken, likely from repeatedly wagging against the metal bars, again left untreated until it was so infected it was removed at the vet after she was rescued; ears so badly infected and so long untreated that the scar tissue inside looks like a bomb went off in her ear canal; and top teeth pulled, possibly to prevent biting, she's a bit of a heart-tugging mess. Her belly bears multiple c-section scars, something I can't even think about given the complete lack of pain and wound care she received where she was kept. Her ears were gnawed on by other dogs and scars cover their rough edges.

At some point in August of last year, fresh from another recent litter and c-section, Maggie either escaped or was dumped on a 107 degree day and was found dirty, starving, and delirious near a lone tree by the side of a road. A sweet woman picked her up and called the Lonestar Bulldog Club Rescue. She spent 6 weeks at the vet undergoing multiple surgeries and treatment for her ears, tail, skin, and heartworms. Her veterinary records frequently mention that she was in "rough shape" but was "very sweet and gentle" and very trusting of her caregivers.

I can't imagine looking in these eyes and being indifferent to her pain, but that life is far behind her now.

When we adopted her she was learning to like grass (most mills just use concrete surfaces that can be hosed off), walks (the leash was VERY SCARY and it took weeks of gentle practice and treats to keep her from cowering and peeing whenever she saw it), and a potty schedule (willing, just occasionally unable to communicate her needs without her foster pack to follow). She had nightmares, occasionally waking up from a deep sleep with a yelp and heart-wrenching cry. Maggie is completely deaf and never barks, so it was shocking to hear such a tortured sound come out of her, but it's been a few months since it last happened and I hope those bad dreams are gone for good.

Despite her background, she IMMEDIATELY loved all five of us, all of our guests, all dogs, all food, and ALL of her outfits.

When I would hold up a new little dress or sweater, she would jump up and down (as much as her short legs and general level of athleticism allowed) and duck her head so I could put it on her.

She is a natural model.

I had testimony today and start my yoga teacher training tonight (7:15-10:15 p.m. Tues, Wed, Thurs nights for the next 8 weeks!), so I thought I'd start this busy season off with a few of my favorite Maggie stories so far. I look forward to many years more:

~ ~ ~

Back in March, on her 2-month adoptiversary, Maggie celebrated by throwing a party from 12-2 a.m.: jumping up in our bed repeatedly (a trick she’d never done before and was TOTALLY delighted by), running the loop through our closet/bathroom/bedroom, collar jangling merrily all the way, and making me take her outside twice for reasons neither of us could figure out as we stood there staring at each other in the grass, me barefoot and half-naked in the dark at 1 am.

The next morning, after dragging our exhausted party-girl out of bed for breakfast, she exhibited another feat of athleticism never before seen, running through my legs and jumping up into the car while I was loading Cora and her things for school. Maggie evaded my attempts to get her out of the car, hopping nimbly between seats until I dragged her out, Cora cackling from the back row, my black pants now covered in fur.

She passed out while I re-rolled my work clothes and I left her snoring loudly, sleeping off her fun night out with mom. I smiled the whole way to work thinking of it.

~ ~ ~

Landon takes Maggie on a morning walk down the street every day before school and camp. One day in April he came *bursting* back into the house at 7:30 a.m., trumpeting news of Maggie’s incredible bravery.

He said they were walking past our neighbor’s house when Maggie got bold and decided to walk on the grass (she was still in her pavement-only days). Suddenly a squirrel ran down from a tree right in front of her! She got scared and hopped backwards twice. THEN, looking at her vulnerable human boy, she got “VERY brave” and “charged forward 3 BIG steps” and barked one time! (Maggie is deaf and doesn't bark.) Landon was SO proud. Maggie was dubbed a knight of the seven kingdoms and spent the rest of the day sleeping off her heroic act.

~ ~ ~

On another exciting night in April, she remembered she could jump on our bed around 2 a.m. and proceeded to do so four times in rapid succession. She'd jump up, I'd pick her up and drop her off the other side of the bed, and then, thinking this was the best game EVER, she'd take a running leap and do it again.

James snored through the whole party and Maggie has not attempted it again. I wonder when she'll next remember that she can.

~ ~ ~

The kids adore their new fur sibling and each of them has a unique and deep bond with their "Maggles."

One afternoon I was cooking dinner and looked over to the living room where I heard Cora crooning gently, “Okay Maggie, so you put one foot here and two feet here and that’s how you play Hop Scotch!!”

Maggie did not quite grasp the game, but Cora never gave up and declared Maggie the champion after several (unsuccessful) attempts at the first square.

She is the center of the Lag Liv household. We're 5 minutes late to everything because "Oh I didn't say goodbye to Maggie!" or "Maggie needs one more pet mommy!"

Maggie loves them back just as fiercely.

~ ~ ~

On Saturday the kids were at a swim meet with James (Claire did her first no-breather 25 free! Landon won everything!) while I stayed home with our still-sick Cora. After 4 days in the house, Maggie and I decided Cora needed a field trip so we packed her in the car and headed to a nearby Starbucks. The fact that we wanted an iced chai and a puppuccino was just a coincidence.

Maggie LOVED her Puppuccino.

She loved it so much I had to pull back into the parking lot and going through the drive-through just so she could finish it before we got home. She can't wait to go back.

~ ~ ~

Car rides remain Maggie's FAVORITE thing. She can't hear, so she can't figure out what signals whether the car is on or not, so every time I let her outside she runs hopefully towards the car, waits a few minutes, and then if I don't go open the door, she gives up and goes about her business. But when I do open that door, her whole face lights up.

On Wednesdays she was my co-pilot as we dropped various children off and picked them up at all the different activities. She took her job seriously, staying alert at least 35% of the time and getting pets from one and all at drop off and pick up.

I can tell she really misses our Wednesday routine of spending 90+ minutes in the car driving all over town. (I, on the other hand, do NOT, though I try to give Maggie rides whenever possible to make up for her loss.)

~ ~ ~

We used to have a routine where I took her out to go potty every night when I went to bed around 11.

Maggie had a routine where she absolutely refused to wake up or move until I picked her up and carried her outside, and if I set her down any moment before we were both fully outside with the door closed, she'd run straight back to her bed.

After 2 months of no accidents in the house I decided she could decide when she wanted to go outside and no longer bother her after her bedtime of 7:30 p.m.

It's going well for both of us. She gets her 12-13 hours of uninterrupted beauty sleep on her favorite bed in the art room (snuggled under two blankets we tuck around her after we finish dinner because we are all ridiculous) and I don't have to raise my heart-rate by dead-lifting a bulldog at 11 p.m. Another upside: she now sleeps in the main part of the house and I don't hit James at 3 a.m. to make him stop snoring when it's actually Maggie snoring from across the room.

~ ~ ~

One thing we noticed quickly is that Maggie will ALWAYS find her spot in the sun.

She sleeps approximately 20 hours a day but somehow she stealthily wakes up and shifts over just enough to always stay within its warm rays.

She LOVES being outside and will snooze until she's sunburned (literally, we have to put sunscreen on her scar) and near to overheating. We keep a close eye on her and she does NOT like it when we drag her inside when her time is up on a hot day.

Luckily, she's in a house full of floor to ceiling windows and skylights, so sun can almost always be found.

I feel like there's a life lesson in there.

~ ~ ~

My final favorite Maggie story from our first few months together is how she follows me around the house whenever she's awake. Having a deaf dog is such an adventure- she can't hear a thing, so when she wakes up, she's never sure if anyone is home or not (it's still funny to me that she has no idea when we come home from being out; she wakes up whenever she wakes up and is like "oh! you're here! how great!")- so anytime she wakes she does a little loop around the house to see who's here. In the mornings, she follows me from the kitchen where I start my tea, to the bathroom where I step in the shower. Once I'm in the shower I have disappeared and she spends the next 10 minutes trotting around the bathroom in circles looking for me. I'll open the (clear glass, but now fogged) shower door to wave, she looks relieved, and then I close it and I've disapparated yet again. She can't hear the water, the fog is apparently totally opaque (we're pretty sure her eyes aren't very good either), so it's a BIG surprise when I step out of the shower in my towel a few minutes later. Watching her trot circles around the bathroom hunting for me is one of the highlights of my morning.

~ ~ ~

And that's it for today's collection of Maggie stories.

I did not have this much love to give a dog when my human babies were young and demanding, but now, there are many days where she is for sure my favorite child.

[I'd be remiss if I didn't add that Fort Worth has a huge overcrowding problem in our pounds, shelters, and rescues right now. I read that over 300 pets were surrendered in the last 6 days and the city is having to euthanize animals for space. There was a devastating article last year by a shelter worker describing the physical act of walking dog after dog down to be euthanized and then dealing with the volume of dead bodies afterward. It was haunting. If you're interested in adopting, fostering, or simply donating to the cause, please google your way to a rescue organization near you! Here in Fort Worth you can volunteer with the city Animal Care & Control and Cody's Friends Rescue and Saving Hope are doing great work for foster and rescue, along with SO many others. And of course the Lone Star Bulldog Club Rescue is near and dear to our own Maggie-loving hearts and can always use donations to support the rescue of these wonderful, wrinkly, medically demanding doggos.]


  1. this makes my heart happy:)

  2. Completely heartwarming - thank you for sharing. Maggie is so lucky to have come to such a good family and it is clear she brings you lots of joy in return. What a sweet-natured dog.

  3. I had to just skim this post because I kept tearing up as I read it, but thankfully they're not just tears of horror and sadness but also pure joy that Maggie has found her forever home. I used to volunteer extensively with the Irving shelter, the DFW Humane Society, and various rescue groups in north Dallas, periodically fostering but mostly picking up stray dogs (my specialty) and finding them foster or forever homes. I was so grateful when the Texas leg passed a law laying down stricter breeding laws; although the law doesn't outlaw pet breeding, it was a huge step forward for animal lovers who have been waiting for years for the state government to recognize the appalling conditions dogs suffer at too many breeding facilities. It's one more significant step towards outlawing the practice entirely.

    So so happy to see beautiful Maggie enjoying her new life!

  4. This is one of my favorite posts yet!

  5. I don't come to your blog super often - usually just redirected here throughout the years from your longtime reader theshubox :) - but I might have to come more frequently after this read! What a bright spot of sunshine!!

  6. Heart breaking and beautiful all at once... she is The Cutest!